Overview of Chelsea Grimm
Chelsea Grimm is a talented young photographer who had planned to document her 2,860 mile road trip from her home in San Diego to a friend’s wedding in Connecticut. Only a few days into the trip, Chelsea vanished.
Born to parents Stephen and Janet Grimm on March 22, 1991, Chelsea was loved immensely. She grew up in Stamford, Connecticut, and attended Pace University in New York City where she studied Psychology.
“Chelsea is an incredibly vivacious and talented young lady and she’s got a heart of gold,” Janet Grimm told Law & Crime. “
In 2019, Chelsea graduated from New York University with a Master’s degree in Social Work, where she worked for the NYC Department of Education caring for 12th graders as a social worker.
Soon after starting in that role, Chelsea was looking for more adventure.
In 2020, she moved to Ocean Beach, California, where she settled into a beachfront neighborhood in San Diego. While in the Golden State, Chelsea deepended her love for the arts, and worked on her photography while maintaining her Clincial Social Work license.
A Fall Wedding in Connecticut
In September of 2023, Chelsea had plans to travel to Connecticut for a friend's wedding. She was using the opportunity to also see her parents. While she originally planned to fly in for the wedding, when Chelsea learned that airlines would not let her fly with her bearded dragon, Rox or Roxy, Chelsea decided to drive.
So, Chelsea packed her white Ford Focus SUV with camping gear, clothes for the trip, and her camera equipment.
“She was spontaneous. She changed plans a lot,” Stephen Grimm, her dad, told NewsNation. “The magnitude of this adventure, of driving across the country was a lot, even for Chelsea.”
Three days into the trip, Chelsea appeared to change her mind.
Chelsea called her parents saying she didn’t think she could do the trip by herself. She told her mom that she planned on camping for a few more days, and would then turn around to go back to San Diego.
She arrived in Pheonix, where she was supposed to meet with a friend for lunch, but calceled her plans, heading to Williams, Arizona, instead.
On September 28, 2023, Chelsea had an encounter with a police officer.
From video captured by the police officer’s body-worn camera, investigators learned that Chelsea did make it to Williams, Arizona. The police department got a call about a suspicious vehicle near a graveyard and war memorial.
It turned out to be Chelsea.
In the footage, Chelsea shares with the officer that she was feeling okay, but was upset.
“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 says from the driver’s seat.
Chelsea’s family has confirmed to the media that she was planned on documenting the “Lost and Forotten People” for an art project during her trip.
Chelsea and the officer continued to chat about her photography and even her bearded dragon before the officer asked if she was staying at a hotel 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 tells him.
“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 replied.
She ended up staying at the Loves that night.
She was seen again for the last time by a woodcutter on September 30, camping in her car near Ash Fork, Arizona.
Chelsea told her parents she might not have cell service while she was camping. But when they didn’t hear from her for several days, her parents reported her missing on October 4, 2023.
The next day, Chelsea's abandoned car was discovered.
Chelsea's locked car was found with two flat fires by hunters in Kaibab National Forest, just north of Ash Fork. Investigators note that her bearded dragon was gone, along with her wallet, driver's license, clothes, and sleeping bag. Her camera was found inside her car.
Her parents said she was upset about her romantic life the last time they spoke with her.
“She was upset with a boy she was dating; she was scared of him,” Stephen Grimm told Law & Crime. “We feel like she was running away from him. And I think overall, that was affecting a lot of her mindset.”
Overall, her family just wants Chelsea to come home.
“We love you, Chelsea, we can’t wait to see you again,” her father shared with Law & Crime.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue and Criminal Investigations Divisions say the investigation is on-going. If you have any further information on this incident, please contact the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office at (928) 774-4523.