The Code Book

Posted by JJinPhila on April 1, 2009 

Well, this much has been reported.  A copy of the County Code was found closed on First Assistant District Attorney Mark Smith on the morning of April 18, 2005.  When opened, it came open to the section on how to replace a sitting district attorney.

 Mr. Gricar obviously wasn’t there and he had access to the book.  He checked it and left the book on Mr. Smith’s desk to find, or so the theory goes.  Ms. Arnold noted that he did leave books out, but generally marked them with a “sticky note.”  There was no sticky note.

            Mr. Bosak explained in a previous blog how this discovery was made.  He said, “hold the cover, front and back, and look at the pages. There will be a slight gap where the book last was opened. In this case, the book opened up to where county code explains how to replace a retired or otherwise absent DA.”

            Okay, probably someone opened the book and looked at that section.  Was it Mr. Gricar?  Well, I decided to try a little experiment of my own.

            First, the question is, what type of a book was it, hard or soft cover?  Yes, that makes a difference.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prints a soft cover version that contains just the statute related to counties.  A publisher called Purdon publishes all of the statutes in Pennsylvania called Purdon Consolidated Statutes.  It is a multivolume work that looks like Encyclopedia Britannica on steroids, and each volume is hardcover.  It is unclear which book was the book.  Then why not check both hard cover and soft cover and see if either would open to the right page?

            First, I have some other code books floating around the house, so I could use one quite similar to the soft cover book; I used the Second Class Township Code.  I used a different reference book with similar binding for the hard cover; it happened to be a type of law book. I left each turned over on a specific page for a half hour; then I closed them and used the “Bosak method,” to check the pages.  The gap formed in both, just as he said.

            Okay, if Mr. Gricar in the one who opened the book, he did it, at the latest before 9:00 PM on 4/14/05.  The book was discovered on the morning of 4/18/05, about three and a half days later.  I tried it with the soft cover code.  No gap formed after that length of time (the gap was still there after a half an hour).  Many months ago, I decided to try it after about three and a half days.  No “gap” was formed.

Now to the hard cover.  After a half hour, it formed, barely; there were several others that also showed up as well.  One hour, after I tried, the gap was still there, but it wasn’t the first one to be visible.  Even trying to create the gap, it still didn’t work as clearly as described.

            I had some time away from home, so I thought I’d try a longer experiment.  I left the book opened to a particular page for two hours, and then I closed the book.  I left it sitting closed while I went on brief trip to Hershey.  Fifty hours later, I tried to find the gap.  There was no gap at all.

            Hard cover or soft cover, I could get the “gap” to form a few hours later; I could not get it to form more than two days later.  Mr. Gricar couldn’t have been the one to create the gap, unless he returned to Bellefonte on Sunday, April 17th, surreptitiously entered the Courthouse and put the book on Mr. Smith’s desk.  Yet the book did have that gap and it was on Mr. Smith’s desk.  How did the gap and the book get there?

            There are two possibilities:

1.  Someone checked, or started to, and forgot they did.  April 18, 2005 was an obviously stressful day for the employees of the District Attorney’s Office; the boss, who was the boss for nearly two decades,  was missing, and may be dead.  A brief check, possible one interrupted, of a statute may be easily forgotten.  Even Mr. Smith might have checked, or started to check, and forgotten.

2.  There was the thought that Mr. Gricar might have been dead, that he may have been murdered, committed suicide, or had some health crisis resulting in his death.  The person checking might thought that he or she would look ghoulish for checking.  The person checked, but didn’t say anything.  In my public sector experience, I have seen inquiries about replacing a deceased office holder within 24 hours of the office holder’s death.  It isn’t generally discussed, but it does happen.

            It is hugely unlikely that the person who put the code book on Mr. Smith’s death was Mr. Gricar.  This one doesn’t even rise to the level of coincidence.  This detail seems to be completely debunked as having anything to do with the disappearance of Mr. Gricar.

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