Grandmother of missing Wood County woman believes “she’s gone” as police continue investigating one year later

Story by Carrie Hodousek, MetroNews

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — The grandmother of missing Wood County resident Gretchen Fleming says while she believes police are nearing a resolution in the case, it could be unlikely that her granddaughter is found alive.

Gretchen Fleming, 28, of Vienna, was last seen Dec. 4, 2022.

“I’m hoping and praying for a miracle. My heart wants that, but my head tells me she’s gone,” Louise Fleming said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

Gretchen Fleming, 28, of Vienna, disappeared one year ago. She was last seen leaving the My Way Lounge & Restaurant in downtown Parkersburg in the early morning hours of Dec. 4, 2022. Her family reported her missing on Dec. 12, 2022.

Since then, Lousie Fleming and her family have been hanging posters, banners and other signs around the community in hopes that someone would come forward with information on Gretchen’s whereabouts.

“I just try to keep her face out in the public so no one will forget about her, so they’ll keep praying and keep trying to remember something, the slightest little thing that would lead us to an arrest and finding her,” she said.

Parkersburg Police Chief Matthew Board confirmed to the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Monday a person of interest has been identified as Preston Pierce but declined to provide any more details. Pierce has not been charged in connection with the case.

Investigators said they found Fleming’s purse and phone at the My Way bar but have not been able to find additional evidence that would lead them to an arrest. Board told MetroNews Monday that police have been working to obtain and execute search warrants over the last year and that the case remains far from “cold.”

“This is not a circumstance where it’s been put on a shelf or forgotten about,” Board told MetroNews. “It’s being actively pursued as it was from the beginning.”

Gretchen lived with her grandparents at the time she went missing. Fleming said Gretchen was a beautiful girl who loved to sing and be active in her community.

“She went to Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March when she attended Marshall (University). She sent me one picture. She was on some kind of stage-in with Marshall with a megaphone talking to the crowd. She wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in,” Fleming said.

Fleming called it “the worst year of my life” in a Facebook post Sunday, which marked the one-year anniversary since Gretchen disappeared.

Fleming said Parkersburg Police Detective James Zimmerman has remained in regular contact with her family since then. She said she has faith in the police and believes the community will hear a resolution in the case soon.

“It’s not a dead end. We’re 99 percent sure we know who did something to her. I know they’re getting closer every day. I have confidence that it won’t be that much longer that we’ll have some answers,” she said.

The family is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to Gretchen’s location and an arrest and conviction in the case.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Parkersburg Police Department at 304-424-8444 or Detective Zimmerman at 304-424-1072.