Walkaway

Posted by JJinPhila on April 24, 2009 

This is the third in series of blogs discussing the possibilities about what happened to Ray Gricar, the then Centre County District Attorney who vanished.  These are possibilities, not facts and not advocacies or any theory.  I want to mesh each theory with the publicly known evidence. 

            This entry is based on this premise:  Mr Gricar, after a great deal of planning, voluntarily left Lewisburg and started a new life someplace else.

            Many of Mr. Gricar’s friends, including one of his closer friends, Assistant District Attorney Steve Sloane, think that he could have walked away.  He was certainly bright enough to pull it off.  Interestingly, he did leave without telling anyone where he would be several years before, while married to his second wife; then he was only gone for about a day and a half, not more than four years.  That time, he was at a Cleveland Indians game.

            Mr. Gricar at least had a passing interest in another walkaway case, the 1985 of Hinckley Township Ohio Police Chief Mel Wiley. 

Wiley and Gricar, the Timing  While the case happened after Mr. Gricar moved to Centre County, Mr. Gricar was familiar with it and discussed it with Mr. Sloane at least after the disappearance.  Since Ms. Arnold thinks she heard the case mentioned around the office, it seems likely that he didn’t discuss it just with Mr. Sloane.  Perhaps as a message or as a private joke, he chose the same day, April 15th, as the day used in 20/20 Vision.  20/20 Hindsight  The interest, to pull off a difficult departure and confuse the combined law enforcement communities of Central Pennsylvania could be motive.  It would be a challenge to outsmart them. 

            Mr. Gricar had expressed an interest in erasing the drive as long as 16 month prior to his disappearance (that is supported by the recently released computer searches).  The Data and Erasing It He could have followed through on his plan and tossed the drive into the river.  There was obviously something on that drive he didn’t want to see the light of day.

            Mr. Gricar had the Mini Cooper titled in Ms. Fornicola’s name; it was legally her car even though he was the principle driver.

Liability and the Mini Cooper It gave her an asset and could have been a “parting gift.”  In any event, it was not a loose end that was left behind.

            Possibly for a month prior to his disappearance, Mr. Gricar’s demeanor changed; he demonstrated several times that he was not focusing on events in the fall, even to the point of saying that he wouldn’t be available to handle a murder case.

A Change in Demeanor and Activity  He also had been working harder in the days prior to his disappearance, again tying up loose ends, accounting for his change in moods.

            Mr. Gricar took a Friday off and left the Central Pennsylvania Media Market.  Friday, Thank God It’s Friday 

The Media Markets and Geography  This would make both difficult to be recognized before his disappearance was announce and delay the news of his missing to get out.  The call to Ms. Fornicola further drew the police to begin looking for him in the same media market and 20-40 miles away from his destination. A Call About the Dog

            Mr. Gricar arrived in Lewisburg and was seen by the Lewisburg witnesses. The Lewisburg Witnesses, April 15, 2005  He acquired another vehicle and drove back to Bellefonte, where he was spotted by Ms. Fenton. Behind the Courthouse  He then returned to Lewisburg and repositioned the Mini Cooper in the lot across from the Street of Shops.  

            You might ask, why would Mr. Gricar return to Bellefonte?  There are several reasons, he might have wanted to get something from the house, and wanted to check and see if Ms. Fornicola was still in the office.  He might have been dropping off the person who provided the vehicle.  Both are possibilities.

            Mr. Gricar could have returned to (or never left) Lewisburg on 4/15/05, where he was spotted by the witnesses.

The Lewisburg Witnesses, April 16, 2005   There was no media reports on his disappearance, and he could have expected, based on the Cleveland trip, none would be made that day.

            He left and went to Wilkes-Barre, perhaps to observe the press coverage.  Wilkes-Barre, Monday, April 18, 2005  He could also have been waiting to make some transportation connection.

            Mr. Gricar would not have left his keys or wallet in the car. 

What Else is Missing? He might need to prove his real identity if this didn’t work.   Someone could break into the car and get the keys.  Both would be dead giveaways that he left intentionally.  He also took his sunglasses; slipping them on would be part of an effective disguise.

            The scent dog handler thought the dog behaved as if Mr. Gricar got into another car. The Physical Evidence  He would have under this scenario.  He disposed of the laptop and drive.  The cigarette ash is interesting.  At least one of the Wilkes-Barre witnesses, the police officer, say him smoking.  If he thought someone was focusing on his face, Mr. Gricar could take out a cigarette and raise it to his face, block the view to the observer.  Traditionally a nonsmoker, people seeing a smoking Mr. Gricar could easily conclude it was not really him.

            The assets could provide one of the motives for Mr. Gricar to walk away. 

Income and Assets  He could have been walking to those assets.

            What point argues against that scenario. The Pension Mr. Gricar likely would get a substantial pension.  He could have even arranged with his attorney to handle it and done it by mail. 

            What is written off as coincidence in this scenario?  Surprisingly, none of the evidence has to written off as coincidental.

            The evidence for the walkaway scenario is:

            *  Some of Mr. Gricar’s closer friends think he did.

            *  His interest in the Wiley case.

            *  The similarity with 20/20 Vision.

            *  His interest in erasing the data.

            *  Mr. Gricar putting the Mini Cooper in Ms. Fornicola’s name.

            *  Disappearing from another media market.

            *  Disappearing on a Friday.

            *  Misdirecting the police by calling 20-40 miles from where the car was found.

            *  The Lewisburg witnesses of 4/15 support the premise.

            *  The Fenton sighting supports the premise.

            *  The Lewisburg witnesses of 4/16 support the premise.

            *  The Wilkes-Barre witnesses support the premise.

            *  The other items missing partly support a disguise.

            *  The physical evidence supports Mr. Gricar to getting into another car.

            *  There seems to be fewer assets than expected, making financing a walk away possible.

            The evidence against the walkaway scenario is:

            *  Mr, Gricar could have claimed his pension, and has not.

            None of the evidence is coincidental.

            Fifteen points for the premise, one thing points away from it.  It’s a lot stronger than the first two, but I’m not ready to call it quits just yet.  There a very strong murder scenario out there as well.  That one, a Short Walk to Death, is up next.

 

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