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WV Police Search For Missing Woman Last Seen Leaving Local Bar With Person Of Interest
Surveillance video from the My Way Lounge and Restaurant shows Gretchen Fleming leaving with an older man on Dec. 4, shortly after 3:00 a.m. Police say the man, who is now a person of interest in Fleming's disappearance, has provided them with "inconsistent statements."
Authorities in West Virginia say they’ve identified a person of interest weeks after a woman disappeared from a local bar.
Gretchen Fleming, 28, vanished in the early morning hours of Dec. 4 after leaving the My Way Lounge & Restaurant in Parkersburg, West Virginia — about 110 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio.
Bar staff and patrons from the bar were instrumental in helping police develop a person of interest in the case. However, investigators are not issuing the person’s identity at this time, the Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported.
Investigators say Fleming left the Juliana Street establishment at around 3:10 a.m., leaving her purse, cell phone and personal documents behind, all of which are still in police custody, according to NamUs.
Parkersburg Police Lt. James Stalnaker said Fleming did not own a vehicle and arrived at the bar with another person, according to Fox News. It was unclear whether that person is the individual police identified as a person of interest, the latter of whom Stalnaker described as an older man.
“We know she left with him,” Stalnaker stated. “We believe that she traveled back to his residence with him.”
Lt. Stalnaker claimed the person of interest has since provided “inconsistent statements.”
“Through his own admission, she was at one point in his vehicle, but he’s claiming she didn’t make it to his house,” Stalnaker continued to Fox News. “There is no indication they knew each other prior to this night.”
Fleming reportedly lived with her grandmother in Vienna, just north of Parkersburg.
Family members filed a missing persons report on Dec. 12 — more than a week after Fleming vanished — though long-time friend, Jake Grim, told Dateline it might not have been unusual.
“The investigation, right from the start, lost 10 days,” Grim stated. “I’m 28 years old, and I don’t talk to my parents every day, you know? So, I mean, it happens.”
On the same day Fleming was reported missing, the Parkersburg Police Department published her photo, asking the public for any information that could help them find the missing woman.
“People that have seen things, heard things, or just think that something might help, they have not hesitated to reach out,” Parkersburg Police Chief Matthew Board told West Virginia MetroNews. “There’s also been around-the-clock work for detectives to go through those leads.”
Board said witnesses at the bar had been “extremely cooperative with police from the onset of the investigation,” according to the News and Sentinel.
Surveillance video from My Way Lounge and Restaurant captured Fleming and the unnamed man leaving the establishment and heading toward the male’s vehicle, according to Fox News. Additional footage tracked the vehicle during the two-mile drive to the man’s home.
“At this point, we’re not getting anything from the person [of] interest,” Stalnaker claimed.
Chief Board confirmed search warrants were executed about two weeks ago but declined to get into the details of what police may or may not have discovered. Lt. Stalnaker told Fox News the unnamed male’s residence, vehicle and electronic devices were covered under the warrant and that investigators were still waiting for results.
Fleming’s relatives are expected to provide investigators with Fleming’s dental records this week.
Lt. Stalnaker said they would be necessary “in the unfortunate circumstance she is located deceased,” according to Fox News.
So far, there have been no arrests.
Fleming had recently taken up work at the H&M clothing store at the Grand Central Mall in Vienna. Her father, David Fleming, spoke to Dateline on Dec. 22, just one day before Fleming’s 28th birthday, according to NBC News.
“We love her. Something happened to her. I don’t know what to say,” said Mr. Fleming. “Tomorrow would be her 28th birthday, which will be hard. She’s an amazing little girl. I just want her home.”
Loved ones held several vigils for Fleming in her absence in hopes that she’ll return home safely. In the meantime, friends, including Jake Grim, continue to remember Fleming as a “creative” and “well-spoken” woman who enjoyed writing, music, and traveling.
“She has this way about her,” Grim told Dateline. “Once you meet her, you’re kind of just infatuated with her because she’s not like everyone else.”
Fleming stands between 5-feet and 5-feet, 2-inches tall and weighs about 100 to 120 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes.
“You have a young girl that nobody has heard from, nobody has seen, no social media activity,” Chief Board told MetroNews. “Things of that nature are very concerning.”
Anyone with information about Fleming’s disappearance is encouraged to contact the Parkersburg Police Department at 1-304-424-8444 or Lead Detective James Zimmerman at 1-304-424-1072.