Over the last 14 months of looking at the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar, I’ve looked at a lot of evidence. One great problem with looking at the evidence is the meaning behind it.
Look at one piece of this evidence, the cell phone call to his girlfriend, Patty Fornicola from someplace in the Brush Valley on 4/15/05. A Call About the Dog
Was the call an attempt, probably on the part of Mr. Gricar, to misdirect those looking for him? Did he want the police to spend a lot of time looking for him in the Brush Valley, while he was in Lewisburg? Walkaway Was it an attempt to put Ms. Fornicola at ease while he met someone in Lewisburg? Murder II: A Short Walk to Death Was Mr. Gricar calling because he realized he wouldn’t be home in enough time to walk the dog? Murder I: A Meeting for Murder
I don’t have an answer, except to say that the call is consistent with each of these scenarios. That is the problem. This call neither rules out nor points strongly any one scenario. Most of the evidence is like that; it either doesn’t point to one scenario, or it could be a coincidence. There were two pieces of evidence that didn’t; one pointed to walkaway and the other pointed to murder. In looking at this again, and I’m always looking, they both could have alternate explanations. These two pieces of information are the titling of the Mini Cooper and the Mr. Gricar’s pension.
Mr. Gricar put the Mini Copper, the car that he drove principally, in the name of his girlfriend, Ms. Fornicola. The stated reason was in case he was sued, yet a number of people noted both that he had a great deal of legal immunity and carried liability insurance. Liability and the Mini Cooper Was the reason to give Ms. Fornicola a parting gift before he walked away?
Maybe not. When Mr. Gricar bought the Mini, he was 58 years old, an age when many men think about getting older, and dying of natural causes, or even an accident. Sometimes there loved ones, or even themselves, are squeamish about the prospect. Did Mr. Gricar tell a white lie, that the reason for putting it in Ms. Fornicola’s name was liability? Was the real reason in case he died of natural causes? He did have his bank accounts held jointly with his daughter, Lara, which give her instant access, and a break on inheritance taxes, should he have died.
Then there is the thing that argued strongly against Mr. Gricar walking away, his unclaimed pension. The Pension Why would he leave it behind if he walked away? Well, the answer is the same as above, so his heir, his daughter, could eventually receive it. If Mr. Gricar walked away, eventually, his daughter would receive that pension. And that, one of the stronger pieces of evidence against Mr. Gricar’s voluntary disappearance, can be explained.
Last July, I couldn’t find a reason why Mr. Gricar would put the Mini Cooper is his girlfriend’s name, unless he was planning to walk away. The Least Weak Evidence Well, there is one. When I was writing, about a year ago, I couldn’t find a reason why Mr. Gricar would walk away and leave his pension behind. Well, there is one.
That is the problem with this evidence. It is physical and can be documented; it exists. It is, however, subject to interpretation and, therefore, to different explanations.
E-mail J. J. in Phila at firstname.lastname@example.org