Chelsea Grimm – vanished on a cross-country roadtrip

Chelsea Grimm is a 32 year old woman from San Diego who has been missing since September 30, 2023.  

Chelsea’s parents are Stephen and Janet Grimm.  According to Chelsea’s FB page, as of November 2022, she was a licensed social worker.

In late September 2023, Chelsea had plans to attend a wedding in Connecticut. She had been planning to fly to the wedding, but after she realized she could not take her pet bearded dragon Roxy on the flight, she decided to drive across the country instead.

Chelsea’s mother Janet said “She was originally going to fly but because of she recently acquired a bearded dragon as a pet and the airlines wouldn’t let her take that animal on the plane, so the day that she was supposed to fly east for the wedding, she called and said I am going to drive across the country, and she said I packed my car, I have my tent, I have my sleeping bag, I might spend a couple nights in a hotel, I might camp, we are sort of going to see how that goes.” 

Her father Stephen said “The magnitude of this ‘adventure,’ of driving across the country, was a lot even for Chelsea, and we said we both thought it was too much and we would help her fly from Phoenix home, or if there was friend in Phoenix she could leave her car with, we gave her a bunch of options.” 

“She changed plans a lot,” said Stephen. “This wasn’t the first time she ever changed a plan, for sure.”

Chelsea told her parents that she was going to undertake an art project while on her drive, to document the ‘lost and forgotten’ people of the U.S.

So in terms of a timeline of Chelsea’s disappearance, she left her home in San Diego on September 24 in her Ford Focus SUV with her bearded dragon Roxy.  

We know that a few days later, on September 27, Chelsea met up with a friend in Phoenix.  In three days, Chelsea had only traveled around 400 miles, or around 5 hours of driving time.

She spoke to her parents on that day.  

‘We last talked on the 27th in the afternoon and she said I’m probably going to camp for a couple of days,’ said Janet.

‘So for a couple of days we didn’t even think about her, she told us she would be offline and we knew she’d be in an area of Arizona where there are spots not good for communication.

Janet said also later said “’Three days later she was only as far as Arizona and she said I just don’t think I can do this by myself.

‘So she said I’m just going to skip the wedding and stay here for couple of days and do a little camping, and she made it sound like she was going to head back to San Diego.’

One of Chelsea’s friends has been commenting on reddit and they said this about Chelsea’s decision to not goto the wedding.

It was the wedding of a longtime close friend. Honestly I find it hard to believe she wouldn’t do everything possible to be there.

This comment is also from reddit and is about what Chelsea’s original plans possibly were.

I’ve been in contact with some of her friends and still trying to piece things together myself. Chelsea had told me in early September (the 5th) that she would be in nyc on September 24-26 and back in the city on October 1. She stated that she intended on flying out and that her parents were going to help her fly back to CA from nyc.

My guess is that the wedding was September 29/30th and that the original plan was for Chelsea to fly back on October 2nd.

After Chelsea spoke to her mother, she called a friend and cancelled a lunch date that she had planned for the next day, September 28.  

Chelsea was seen at a hotel in Seligman, Arizona on September 27.  A witness who saw her said that she appeared disoriented and was trying to use Euros instead of US Dollars. 

Chelsea told the clerk at the hotel that she was aiming to stay off the grid.  She also mentioned that she was looking at changing her name. 

Chelsea was captured on police body cam on September 28.

Someone called in reports of a suspicious person in a vehicle in Williams, Arizona – this is around 42 miles/45 min drive from Seligman.

Police responded and found Chelsea sitting in her car, near a graveyard and war memorial.

Chelsea seems to be upset in the footage and the officer asks her if she was okay. She had Roxy in the car with her at the time. 

“Yeah, I just was doing a photo shoot of the lost soldiers and got a little emotional, so I was crying before I got back on the road,” she said.  

Chelsea did tell the officer that she had smoked marijuana ‘hours and hours ago’ and the officer reported that to his dispatcher but said she did not look impaired.

The police officer asked Chelsea if she had a hotel to stay at for the night.  

“I don’t, I was actually thinking of just camping for the night, but I wasn’t really sure exactly yet. I didn’t plan to be here until sunset,” she told him.  

The officer told her that as per Wlliams city ordinance, she was unable to sleep in her vehicle.  He directed her to a nearby truck stop.

“The yellow lights up there, the Loves? It’s the trucker stop. In the gas station area, you can sleep there. Nobody will bother you,” the officer says.

“Oh, perfect. Awesome. Yeah, love that,” Chelsea said.  

‘If it’s okay with you if I hang out here for another like 15 or 20 and then head on the road, that would be my plan I think.’ Chelsea then said.

‘Hang out here however long you want,’ he told her before leaving.

‘And then you’re good to go.’

It has been reported that Chelsea’s phone and bank movements stopped on the 28th.

As far as we can tell, Chelsea’s movements on September 29 are not known or have not been made public.

We know that on September 30, Chelsea talked with a woodcutter in Ash Fork, Arizona.  That location is around 18 miles/20 min drive from Williams.

Stephen spoke to News Nation about this interaction.  ‘‘He thought she did not seem in distress or in need.” 

‘He went back to make sure she didn’t want help and she declined, so his conclusion was that she was in pretty good shape.’

“[He] talked to her around noon. And said she was fine and said she didn’t need any help. And she was out taking photographs.” 

Other reports say that Chelsea had been discovered camping in the area by the woodcutter.

When Chelsea’s parents did not hear from her by October 4, they knew something was wrong and they filed a missing person report on that day.

The following day, October 5, Chelsea’s car was found just outside of Ash Fork (which was the area where she talked with the woodcutter).

The car was found with two flat tyres. It was found abandoned in the middle of a road used by hunters and woodcutters.   

“The car was locked,”Janet told Law&Crime. “It was neat. So there were no visual signs of a struggle. And it’s possible that she just decided that she was going to proceed with her camping.”

Her family have theorized that she perhaps got a ride with someone after her car got the flat tyres. Roxy was not with the vehicle. 

“There is a chance that she got a ride out of there. She seemed to have left that car of her volition, in an organized way. It was locked, she had taken her wallet, we think, her phone and her sleeping bag, among other things, along with the bearded dragon,” Stephen said.

“Chelsea has always had a special spot in her heart for children, elderly people and animals, and she would never leave an animal behind, she just wouldn’t do it, so I think that that is a tell tale sign,” Janet said.

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