In April of 2005, former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar disappeared. Something happened in my life, about a week to ten days before Mr. Gricar disappeared, that wasn’t so earthshaking. I bought a car.
I needed a car. My old one, the one with 120,000 miles on it, died. I bought it in 2000, when it had just over 100,000. The engine pretty much died. It had more than a few dents in it. Well, I managed to get to a used car lot where I got $50 for it, where I bought a used car. The lot was mercifully within walking distance. I still have that car. When I bought it, almost five years ago, it had just over 63,000 miles on it; now it has about 80,000 miles on it. I don’t drive too much, basically because I don’t really have any place to go.
I bought the car legally from a dealer and about a week or so later I received my renewal of my registration on the old car, the one which I sold for $50.00. The new title had yet to be processed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Even when I called up five weeks later, it still hadn’t been processed; the fact that I had bought a car, legally, was not yet in the database. The dealer sent in the proper paperwork, but the bureaucracy hadn’t processed it yet. It was finally processed just before the deadline, and I went to Triple A to get the sticker processed. I’m an ex-bureaucrat, so dealing with paperwork wasn’t too bad. I could still drive the car, legally, because I had a temporary registration, a “pink slip.”
What if the police had happened to be trying to find me? They would have run through the data base at the Department of Transportation and found, nothing. If I was stopped by the police for something (and I was), I could only show them the pink slip. My information on the pink slip would not, however, be in the PennDOT database.
What if Mr. Gricar had purchased a car on or about 4/15/05? Even if he bought it under the name “Ray Gricar,” had the police checked, they would have found nothing. Further, it might not have been under the name “Ray Gricar.” It could have been under a legal variant, like “R. F. Gricar” or “R. Frank Gricar.” Had Mr. Gricar established a new identity, it could have been under any name.
A used car, like mine, is not the most expensive thing in the world to buy; a perfectly serviceable one, basic transportation as it were, could be purchased for under $5,000. If Mr. Gricar had bought a car, he could have used it to get where he was going and then resold it, recouping some of his costs. It was reported that in the 2 ½ years prior to his disappearance, Mr. Gricar had removed $16,000 from ATM’s.1 While, as noted when reported, that is not too unusual, it doesn’t list any other money withdrawn directly. It certainly would have been possible for Mr. Gricar, over a period of months prior to his disappearance, to slowly remove several thousand dollars from his accounts.
He would not have needed a check; cash transactions of up to $10,000 need not be reported to the government.
So Mr. Gricar could have purchased a car and driven off into his voluntary disappearance. Did he?
To follow this road not taken is to look a car driving on the road out of Lewisburg. The purchase, at most, would have had to be in walking distance of where the Mini Cooper was found, perhaps no more than a ten mile radius. I’d start by looking at vehicles purchased between 4/14 and 4/18 in that radius; Mr. Gricar was out of the office on 4/14/05 as well. I’d rule out those that were reregistered at the same local address at the time the registration had to be renewed. I’d look closely at purchases of used cars for less than $10,000. I doubt that this list would be long.
1 PPG, 8/17/05 http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05229/555106-85.stm
E-mail J. J. in Phila at email@example.com