What I Saw in Lewisburg

Posted by JJinPhila on October 17, 2009 

Though it had been a closely guarded secret, known only to half the Internet, I took a trip in late July.  I stopped in Lewisburg around the fourth anniversary of the discovery of the laptop.  The trip was not just to Lewisburg (the distance would be difficult), but I did venture into the field.  I was there with a companion, but unfortunately, it was not Mr. Gricar.  I thought I’d give you some of my impressions, complete with photos.           
     
Now, I’ve indicated this before, I’m very badly disabled and generally have to use a cane (and wear a back brace).  I also have problems sitting for long periods of time.  As I have to sit to drive, driving can be problematic.  I don’t like going into the field for that reason.  It was also a rainy day when I was there.  Searching on the Internet is dryer; I like that.
           
    
One very good advantage, however, is the ice cream cones sold in the café in Street of Shops.  I had a double scoop of vanilla; I recommend it.  You can’t get that via a dialup connection.  
           
       
I have two files of photos, looking at two of the three places that were reported in the press, where Mr. Gricar was seen.  I drove past the third, the intersection where “McKnight’s witness” spotted Mr. Gricar in the Mini Cooper.  The first spot will be the parking lot across from the Street of Shops.  The second is the area around the Packwood House, the park across the street and the bridge.  One thing that struck me was how close the spot where the drive was found was to the bridge, about 75 yards.
           
    
Here is the file for the parking lot photos:  http://picasaweb.google.com/LookingforRay/ParkingLot
The tape measure in the photos is 10 yards (30 feet).  My cane is 35 ½ inches (just under one yard).  The lot is about 30-35 yards long along St. John Street and 25-30 yards long along Water Street.  The size of the lot, and if there could have been enough space for the hound to follow the scent 20 yards, was a hotly debated topic on the Internet a few years ago.  The answer is, yes.  Mr. Gricar could have almost walked straight to Water Street and this would be close to the 20 yards.  Going to the corner of Water and St. John would be longer than 20 yards.           
        
I did have some impressions of this site:
           
       A.  There was a fair amount of foot traffic and the houses were close to the lot.  One has a porch that almost touches the parking lot.   Had Mr. Gricar called for distress, the call would very likely have been heard.  Likewise, it would not be a good place to force someone into a car.
           
     
B.  The only major business in the immediate are was the Street of Shops.  The row closest to the Street of Shops would fill up first.  Anyone parking the Mini would know that by parking it in the second row, it would be difficult to view from the street.
           
     
C.  Most of the area was not covered by overhanging trees.
           
     
Here are the photos of the bridge and the park:  http://picasaweb.google.com/LookingforRay/Lewisburg73009#
           
     
The first two are on the bridge.  The barriers are the same height on both sides, between 30 and 32 inches.  I saw a Mini in a supermarket parking lot a few weeks after taking the photo, and put my cane next to it.  The bottom of the window was well above it; I’d guess it would be about 40” from the ground.  Could someone, even the driver, have tossed the laptop from the car and cleared the barrier?
           
     
Yes, easily.  The driver would have to lower the passenger side window.  The driver, going slowly or briefly stopping, could rest one edge of the laptop on the edge of the door and give it even a gentle nudge.  This one has been the subject of serious debate on the Internet as well, but it is quite possible.
            
      
Photo #4 is looking from the steps of the Packwood House into the park.  Photo #9 is a zoom it of the same shot.   Note that someone could easily see down to the river; the bench is by the bank.  Photo #6 is looking from the Packwood House down towards the Street of Shops.  Photo # 7 is looking back at the Packwood House from the bank; the bench is in the foreground.  Photo #5 is looking from the corner of Market and Water Streets down Water Street toward the Street of Shops.
           
      
Photo #8 is looking down from where that bench is to the spot where the drive was found.  It was found roughly where those green leaves are poking out of the water.  There is 5-10 foot drop.  The photo by Tony Gricar was taken when the river was lower.  My understanding was the river was up to about where the photo was taken on the weekend of 4/15/05.  The area was also filled with debris, like tree limbs.  I think you can see that, even when the area was cleared, and the water lower, it would have difficult to find the drive.  The bench is 70-75 yards away from the bridge entrance.  The bridge extends out at an angle.  Photo #3 is what bridge looks like from the area round the bench.
           
      
I did learn a few things about the Gricar case looking around Lewisburg.  First, I destroyed one of my own theories.  The witnesses at the Packwood House and in the parking lot where the Mini reported that Mr. Gricar was moving his car.  I thought that maybe he was worried about tree sap, pigeon droppings, or even dings from other cars.  Trees don’t overhang any of the parking spaces.  Parking at the far edge of the lot might have better protected from dings, and in three parallel parking spaces, it would difficult to chip the Mini’s paint.
           
     
Second, Mr. Gricar’s initial destination was not the Street of Shops.  Mr. Gricar could have turned on St. Anthony, St. Mary, or St. John Streets and gotten to the Street of Shops before getting to the Packwood House.  If he did use those streets he either would have had to cross the lane or go around the block to park across from the Packwood House.  He was also about 200 yards from the Street of Shops; he easily could have parked in one of the two lots within 25-30 yards of it.  The most likely way he got to the first place he was spotted was by turning off Market Street onto Water Street.
           
     
Why did he go there first?  One suggestion I’ve heard is that Mr. Gricar was waiting to meet someone; that is given as one explanation for him moving his car, to give someone in another car ample space to park.  The "waiting" possibility has been raised by some witnesses.   It’s certainly possible, but I’ll reserve judgment.
           
     
Third, nothing that saw would either prove or disprove that Mr. Gricar tossed either drive or the laptop.  As previously indicated, he could have dropped the laptop from the bridge, even while driving the Mini.  He was close to where the drive was found.  None of these things prove that Mr. Gricar did, only that he could have tossed them.
           
     
The trip was interesting and Lewisburg looks like a nice small town; I’d like to visit it again.  The trip put the last nail in the coffin of my pigeon droppings theory.  It put the last nail in the coffin of some suggestions floating around the Internet.  It raised the waiting question once again.  It certainly didn’t help me make up my mind about what happened to Mr. Gricar. 

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