When investigating any disappearance there are bound to be dead ends, avenues of investigation that were checked out and did not lead any place. The disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar is no different.
In the past, the Bellefonte Police Department has said that numerous things did not lead anyplace. It was widely reported that a suicide that took place on 4/17/05 was unrelated to the disappearance. The victim, Mr. Leathers, was subject to an investigation and the Pennsylvania State Police created a time line on him which showed he was accounted for that weekend. It was also reported that Mr. Gricar did not rent a car using his credit card or using public transit to leave Lewisburg. Many things about what was checked by the police have been released.
What could be released? One thing I’d really like to see is if the police checked the whereabouts of Mr. Gricar’s friends and staff members on 4/15/05. Did they look at the whereabouts of former significant others? Did they look at the possibility that any of these made a straw purchase or rental of a car? Did they look to see if there was a rental or purchase of a car on 4/15-4/16/05 by a seemingly non-existent person? If they did, and the answer is no, the likelihood that Mr. Gricar walked away would drop dramatically.
Would any of this somehow imperil the investigation? No. These are things that obviously do not explain why Mr. Gricar disappeared. Certainly if there was a trial, these things would have to be eliminated. Proving a murder without a body is difficult in itself, but at this point even a great prosecutor would have a hard time proving that Mr. Gricar was dead without ruling out these possibilities.
Privacy would not be an issue. For example, assume that they checked the former significant other identified as a nurse. They discovered that she was working during the day and went to the movies with a friend that evening. They could simply relate that without naming her.
While releasing this information may not generate new leads, it may help someone looking at the case to connect the dots. I think this would be a gold mine of information to those of us who follow the case. If I could be sure that some of the things I’ve mentioned were ruled out, I certainly would greatly reduce the chances that Mr. Gricar’s disappearance was voluntary.
Releasing what was checked, and ruled out, would give the public a realistic view about what happened to Mr. Gricar. It would also do something else. The Bellefonte Police Department has received much criticism about the Gricar investigation. In looking at other recent disappearance cases, which I plan to discuss next week, the Bellefonte Police did a thorough job in the first weeks of the investigation. I’ve gotten the impression that it has continued to be thorough and much more has been investigated that has been known. The full scale should be publicly known, even if it ultimately led nowhere.
On every level, releasing what has been checked, and ruled out, would not hurt the Gricar investigation and may help it. It may also help dispel some of the unfair criticism of the law enforcement investigation.