Looking Back at 2009

Posted by JJinPhila on December 31, 2009 

I thought that, with the year ending, I’d look at the year in retrospect as it relates to the disappearance of Ray Gricar, the former District Attorney of Centre County.  There was some newly released information.  There were some changes, however, in some areas around the investigation.  These included changes in the District Attorney’s Office, the media, especially the blogosphere, and changes in public perception.

            We had precisely one bit of “new” evidence from law enforcement released.  Mr. Gricar searched his home computer on how to eliminate the data on his laptop.1  The police knew about it in 2006. 2 It was reported in 2008 that Mr. Gricar had asked at least two people about getting some data off his computer, and was doing so more than a year prior to his disappearance3.  I know who one of them is, and it isn’t the county Internet Technology person, a staffer at the DA’s Office, a family member; it is no one listed in that famous “Inner Circle.”

            So we knew these things prior to the announcement:

            A.  Mr. Gricar was interested in making sure some data on his computer never saw the light of day.

            B.  The data on Mr. Gricar’s laptop could never see the light of day.

After this earth shattering announcement, we now know:

A.  Mr. Gricar was interested in making sure some data on his laptop computer never saw the light of day.

            B.  The data on Mr. Gricar’s laptop could never see the light of day.

            Prior to this announcement I said that I thought that it was only 48% likely that Mr. Gricar walked away; after this stunning revelation, I said that there was now whopping, huge, gigantic 48% chance that Mr. Gricar walked away.  And in related breaking news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead. 

            Bluntly, we didn’t learn much.  And, that was it from the police for the year, except for Retired Bellefonte Police Chief Duane Dixon, purportedly, pointing out how much money and time the department spent on the case during his tenure.4  And, in all fairness, I did decreased murder from 43% to 42% (suicide went up).

            In terms of the conduct of the investigation, the man I called, “a twenty ton boulder astride the path to a solution of Mr. Gricar’s disappearance,” Michael T. Madeira, will be out of office by this time next week.  The incoming District Attorney, Stacey Parks Miller, said, after the election:

I think I owe it to Ray Gricar to tear the file apart.  And meet with everybody, get up to speed and brainstorm on any new directions to take. And I believe that the Bellefonte Police Department will be open to that because they are invested in the investigation and willing to go the extra mile.5

I hope that this will not become the equivalent of Mr. Madeira’s “no stone unturned” comment 6.  I hope, at the least, it will be a public disclosure of what has been checked, and ruled out. 

Ms. Parks Miller may be the last best hope for a solution to the mystery of Mr. Gricar’s disappearance; she is, de facto, the “fresh set of eyes” various people have been calling for, for nearly three years.  As there are possible resource considerations raised by Retired Chief Dixon4, one of those “new directions” might be turning the case over to the Attorney General’s Office.  While I hope that more can be done on the local level by the Bellefonte Police Department, they may ultimately lack the resources.

The media coverage of the Gricar case continued its migration to the Internet.   Even with that, the traditional media has not forgotten the case.  Recently, the disappearance of Mr. Gricar appeared on a list of the top Pennsylvania stories of the decade.7  I was happy to see that.

 The Internet lost its prime voice, however, when Pete Bosak stopped blogging ten months ago, and his loss has never been replaced.  He probably knew this case better than anyone outside of law enforcement.  Mr. Bosak and I still communicate, and he has been very helpful, but I still miss his blogs.  He took more chances than I do, could dig deeper than I can, and I miss that as well.

Now there are two blogs on Mr. Gricar here on the CDT website.  Slamdunk, a former police officer, did a series on his own blog, to which you have a link; I’d really recommend reading Slamdunk’s blog as well.  At the time of writing this entry, this one is the more active blog here, and I think the most recommended one at the CDT site. That has surprised me, and I hope to discuss it next year.  When I started it, it was suppose to be about a weekly blog about the background of the case, look at the details, sporadically.  Looking at the details is the one thing I planned to do, and did. 

You now have 20 blog entries just each piece of evidence.  Because this is blog, I can take time to explain in detail the importance of things like the different media markets and why Mr. Gricar didn’t need to put the Mini Cooper in Ms. Fornicola’s name to protect it.  I was able to have a sixteen part chronicle of the investigation, and to discuss the various theories, how they fit, or didn’t fit, with the evidence.  And, there are indexes for quicker review.

Out of all that, I think that there was one very important entry, the timeline on the witnesses8.  You never saw that in print in any story or from some other member of the “chattering class.”  I found out a bit more, but most of it was previously published; I just put it in order.  Even with that, the witness list should be considered a work in progress, with both more witnesses and more details about what they saw quite possibly being unreported. 

If you’ve been following the case closely, you probably, today, know more about it than you ever did; I frankly don’t know that much more than you do.  If you have not been following it, you now have chance to look at the evidence, the investigation, and the theories, regarding what happened to Mr. Gricar.  The public case is more public.  That may help solve this mystery.

2009 has given the investigation a fresh set of eyes and the public more detailed picture of what happened to Ray Gricar.  That is a good portent for 2010.  A Happy New Year to you all, and may 2010 bring us a resoultion to the mystery of the disappearance of Ray Gricar.

End Notes

1 CDT , 4/15/09 http://www.centredaily.com/news/ray_gricar/story/1228995.html


2 DC, 4/16/09 http://tiny.cc/Policeknew


3 CDT, 10/1/08, http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/1913945/


4  The comment, purportedly from Retired Chief Duane Dixon is here:

The Investigation, Part One: The First 24 Hours

One account that I read said that the amount of overtime alone in the first 2-3 weeks was a bit less than $5,000.00.  I am mindful of the costs to a small department.  However, if resources are a factor, the District Attorney can request that the state Attorney General take over the case.  That was something that the outgoing District Attorney, retired Chief Dixon and his successor have declined to suggest.


5  CDT, 11/5/09  



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