This entry is to give a brief summary of the physical evidence in the disappearance of Ray Gricar. It has been so widely reported, and much, if not all, of it has been discussed in passing.
The Mini Cooper was found in Lewisburg, in the parking lot across from the Street of Shops. It was undamaged and locked when found. No readable fingerprints were found inside, though there were unreadable ones taken; a thin lair of dust covered the car. The State Police determined the car had not been wiped down. A fingerprint identified as belonging to Mr. Gricar was found on the outside of the driver’s side window.
In the car was Mr. Gricar’s cell phone, turned off; he had voice mail. A water bottle, which contained Mr. Gricar’s DNA, was found in the Mimi.
A trace of cigarette ash was also found in the Mini, on the passenger side. When opened, the police detected a faint scent of cigarette smoke. Mr. Gricar was not a cigarette smoker and did not permit smoking in the car.
A scent dog detected Mr. Gricar’s scent in the parking lot, and trailed it for 20 yards, but not beyond the parking lot. The handler felt the dog acted as if Mr. Gricar got into another car (the dog wasn’t talking). The dog was scented from an item retrieved from the house.
On July 30, 2005, Mr. Gricar’s county issued laptop was discovered in the Susquehanna. It was on the north side of the bridge; Tony Gricar determined that it was physically possible to have been tossed by the driver of a car crossing the bridge. Because it was on the north side, the driver would have to be heading toward Bellefonte. It was badly damaged by the water, with the plastic pealing off, indicating that it had been in the water for a while, but it cannot be said that it was tossed in on 4/15/05 and may have tossed in weeks later. There was no impact damage, but the drive was removed.
The drive was found in late September 2005, upstream from the bridge. It was found in a spot that would have at least six inches of water on 4/15/05 and was covered by debris. (My guess from the description was more like two feet of water). It was unreadable, but there was no indication it was dislodged because of the laptop being tossed into the river. The drive was unreadable and would have been the water for a while, but it could have tossed in well after 4/15/05.
What does all this mean?
The location of the Mini corresponds to where some of the witnesses saw Mr. Gricar driving the Mini on 4/15/05. So does the scent detection in the parking lot, but Mr. Gricar was also seen across from the Packwood Museum and in the Street of Shops and the dog did not detect the scent at those locations. That isn’t definitive, however. The scent could have been dispersed in those locations by the time the police checked. The dog also could have detected the fresher scent, indicating that this was the most recent place Mr. Gricar walked in Lewisburg.
The drive was removed from the laptop prior to it being tossed into the river. The laptop was on the north side of the bridge, making it very probable that it was tossed from a car driving from the east side (Milton side) of the river toward the west side (Lewisburg side) of the river. There were no reports that Mr. Gricar crossed the river, but he could have done so unobserved, especially under the cover of darkness. The laptop and drive could also have been tossed into the water weeks after 4/15/05.
The cigarette ash and scent of smoke indicate that someone smoked in the Mini. However, the two Wilkes-Barre witnesses saw the person they believed to be Mr. Gricar smoking. It doesn’t point to anything definitive.
The water bottle could have been left from an earlier trip, though Mr. Gricar was said to fastidious about keeping the Mimi clean. As he had voicemail, turning off the cell phone was not indicative of anything; he could check periodically for important and unexpected calls.