Moving the Mini, the Street of Shops

Posted by JJinPhila on May 5, 2010 

For some reason, the still missing former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar was seen by witnesses moving his car around in parking spaces.  He was seen around lunch time across moving the distinctive red Mini Cooper across from the Packwood House. Moving the Mini, the Packwood House That wasn’t the only place.  He was seen moving the car in the parking lot across from the Street of Shops in the evening of 4/15/05.

            Witnesses saw Mr. Gricar arrive in the Mini after 5:00 PM.1  They also saw him moving the Mini there.2  Two people also spotted him across the street in the Street of Shops.3  Mr. Gricar’s modus operandi (I do like Latin) was almost identical to what it was a few hours before, across from the Packwood House.

            Likewise, two of the same theories that didn’t fit at the Packwood House don’t fit here.  There were no trees nearby, so the bird droppings theory fails to explain this.   Parking the Mini in a remote corner of the might have lowered the chances of “dings” from other parked cars. Parking the Mini on Water Street would have been a much closer match to the site of Roy Gricar’s suicide.

            The theory that Mr. Gricar moving the Mini around to make room for someone doesn’t work as well in this case.  The lot isn’t huge, but I’ve never seen a photo where it is filled.  On the south side of St. John’s Street, there is another parking area for the Street of Shops.

            The fourth theory, that Mr. Gricar was trying to attract attention to himself, also doesn’t work too well; there were better ways to do that.  There may be evidence that he was trying to do the opposite. 

            The parking lot has three rows of spaces, all running perpendicular to St. John’s Street.  One is closest to the Street of Shops, parallel to and bordering Water Street4. 

A photo is here:

This row has space for about seven or eight cars.5

The middle row is a double row, parallel to the first.  A photo is here:

Each side has room for five to six cars.

The third row, parallel to the first two, is the most distant from the Street of Shops.  It is the same as the first row.

            According to Mr. Gricar’s nephew, the Mini was found parked in the middle row, about four or five spaces in, almost at the end of the row.  This had a noticeable effect that different than the other parking location.  It made the car less visible from the street.

            I’m sure most people reading this have gone to a super market or a strip mall with stores.  What spaces tend to fill up first, those closest to the store or those further distant?  Every time I’ve been to a store, it is those spaces closer to the store.  In this case the first row and the side of the second row closest to the Street of Shops is the closest.  Anyone parking a car where the Mini was found would know that the view of the car would be blocked from the street, so long as there are other cars in the lot.  It also becomes harder to see from a passing car, because the car is moving and at best it can be seen for a fraction of a second.

            In the caser of the Mini, it was a smaller.  Even a regular sized car could block the view.  Even though Water Street is used as a local shortcut, including by the State Police3, it would be difficult, if not impossible to spot the Mini from a car driving down that street.  It is no accident that the Mini was spotted at 6:30 PM, when there would be likely fewer cars in the lot.  Had the Mini remained parked across from of the Packwood House, it is hugely likely it would have been discovered earlier.

            It sure looks like someone wanted to delay the discovery of the Mini Cooper.  Notice I said “someone” and not necessarily Mr. Gricar.

            Mr. Gricar was seen in the parking lot around 5:00 PM; a scent dog brought in on 4/17/05 detected his scent there, but not beyond.  It has never been reported if the spot where he was seen moving the Mini is the same spot where it ended up.  His prints were not found in the car; the prints were smeared.  Even if the witnesses, on 4/15, saw the Mini being parked by Mr. Gricar in the same place where it was found, it didn’t necessarily stay in that place.

            That leaves several possibilities.

            1.  Mr. Gricar was the last person to drive the Mini and left it parked there since the early evening of 4/15/05.

            2.  Mr. Gricar was the last person to drive the Mini but he drove it on 4/16/05.

            3.  Someone else drove the Mini after the early evening on 4/15/05.

End Notes

1 “On the Record” 4/21/05,2933,154192,00.html


2  CDT 7/2/08


3 CFT 11/16/05


4 The lot is separated from the street by a sidewalk and a grass parking strip.


5 The lot is gravel and does not have solidly defined parking spaces.  It is possible for eight cars, parked closely, to park in the end rows.  In Philadelphia, that is called “normal.”


E-mail J. J. in Phila at

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