Gretchen Fleming’s high school friend talks about her impact on his life

WTAP News @ 10
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 5:14 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - “She approached me in the hallway, we became friends. But I don’t think it was by some weird coincidence. I think it was by like, ‘We were supposed to meet,’” says Jake Grim. “Because she just had this way of like she saw past people’s perceptions of you. And she really got to know the true me and she really got to open my eyes to a lot of cool and different things. She saved an adolescent me. So, I feel like I’m trying to return that favor for her.”

Grim is a high school friend of Gretchen Fleming’s and is one of many who are following the search for her as close as possible. However, Grim says that sometimes it can be overwhelming.

“We talk about it every day, people send us stuff. It’s like you try to escape it – just for a little bit because you just don’t want to be in the mindset of it. And you can’t. It’s everywhere. And that’s so important,” says Grim. “But it definitely takes a toll on your own mental health. I can’t even imagine how her own family’s processing it.”

Grim also says Gretchen’s disappearance still runs through his mind. Not just because of her being missing over a month, but because of the mental state Grim says Gretchen was in at the time.

“People have to understand too, she had her mother pass away in May. And I had known that before the investigation came out as well,” says Grim. “Just from me and my friend knowing the family. She was going through a lot. And, you know, just thinking that she was alone that night and having nobody, it just messes with you. That’s just something that I replay in my head.”

Since the missing person’s report was filed, Grim has done as much as he can to keep the attention on the search for Gretchen.

Including holding a candlelight vigil that gained a significant amount of attention.

“We had so many people that saw it,” says Grim. “And it wasn’t even people from our community, it’s states away. I have friends that have moved away and there are some on the west coast. And they have been a part of this story. And, I mean, this doesn’t happen in our small town. You know we have missing people and some cases that are sadly still open. But, to this magnitude, we’ve never seen a case like this.”

Grim says he will always remember Gretchen for her love of music and her signature Doc Marten’s she wore.

And his favorite memory with her is the birthday party him and a few other friends threw for her back in high school.

“We went to Skate Country, the local skating rink for her birthday. I think it was her 16th birthday. Her grandma actually dropped us off and we made a big thing about it because we hadn’t been since we were little kids. And we didn’t grow up together being little kids,” says Grim. “So, it’s something that we wanted to have together. And, you know, we got all the slushies, like just did the thing. We made it special for her and she was just really excited to have that time with us.”

Grim says that when Gretchen is found he would like to be one of the first people to see her after she catches up with her family.

“Now that I’m older and I’m more appreciative of those friendships and want to hold onto them, I would want her to come home. And as soon as she’s done with her family playing catch up, I would love to see her. I know that our other mutual best friend would love to see her as well. And we’d just love to give her a hug and support,” says Grim. “She’s not really a big hugger, but she’d have to take a hug from me anyways.”

If you have any new information on Gretchen Fleming, contact Detective Zimmerman by dialing 304-424-1072 or dial 304-424-8444 for after hours.