In looking at the public case of the disappearance of Ray Gricar, the former District Attorney of Centre County, one aspect has been noteworthy. There has been a gradual retreat of those that were close to Mr. Gricar from the public sphere. This retreat is not just by the Gricar family, but by his friends and associates. It is a retreat from public comment on Mr. Gricar’s disappearance, but not a retreat from caring about Mr. Gricar.
Before I get into it, I want to start by saying that this is basically a chronology. It is not a conclusion or a criticism. I may have some of both, potentially. At this point, however, I want to look at what happened, not why it happened.
The case still draws interest, in blogs like this one, on message boards, and in the media when there is some new development or an anniversary. At least a large segment of the public is interested and is watching. However, with a few exceptions, the retreat from public comment of those close to Mr. Gricar, is near complete.1
It wasn’t always that way. When this case started, there was a vocal group of family and friends willing. It started at the public press conference on 4/18/05, where both Mr. Gricar’s daughter, Lara, and his girlfriend, Patty Fornicola, spoke.2 Both continued to speak with the media over the summer, with Ms. Gricar being interviewed by Greta van Susteren in May3 and being quoted in the CDT in late July4. Ms. Fornicola was interviewed on television regarding the Southfield sighting in early June5. Early June was the first mention of Tony Gricar that I found in the CDT; in regard to the missing person website set up to inform the public about the case.6 He gradually displaced his niece, to the point that in August, in the story on the discovery of the laptop, Tony Gricar7 provided family comment, not Lara Gricar.8 Ms. Gricar did speak in the fall, on passing her polygraph test 9. Around the first anniversary, she spoke through her attorney, Amos Goodall, who said, “"I don't think she's ever given up hope that her father will come back."10 She did comment for Mr. Bosak’s “Missed Leads,”11 in may of 2006, but even at the time this was rare. While there were some occasional comments, there was nothing on many of the developments in the case, like the disclosure of the computer searches in 2009 or the “dueling press conference” in 2008. Her retreat was complete.
Ms. Fornicola continued to speak. She continued, even being a major participant in the May 2006 Dateline story.12 She responded to the publicity around the “mystery woman” at about the same time.13 In late November of 2006, Ms. Fornicola participated in a press conference to express her appreciation for the police efforts. 14 She commented around the second anniversary, saying, "People come up to me and say, 'Well, you should just start believing that he is dead.’ Well, I need proof."15 By the 2008 anniversary, she only indicated, “I haven’t given up.”16 That ended most of
Ms. Fornicola’s public role in the Gricar case.17 After that, her retreat was complete.
And then there was former Assistant District Attorney Steve Sloane. He spoke in the press as early as the first week of the Gricar case.18 It made sense; he was both a close friend of Mr. Gricar and an experienced prosecutor who worked in the District Attorney’s Office. He was quoted in “Missed Leads.” Often a cited source for Mr. Bosak, he provided information for the Mel Wiley connection19. He was there for years. But the last public comment I heard, attributed to him at least, was at the fourth anniversary on the story “Foul Play Theory Weakened.” 11 After that, he retreated.
Part two will look at the person who has been the forefront of the public case for the longest period of time, the family spokesman, Tony Gricar. I should note that others, such as Mr. Gricar’s first wife, and mother of Lara, Barbara Gray, have spoken publicly, but not with regularity, and generally have not spoken on specific developments.
A note about the title: The term “The Great Retreat” described the British and French retreat toward Paris in the opening six weeks of the First World War (August 1914), as they were being attacked by the Imperial German Army. Despite this retreat, the British and French ultimately won the war.
[Part II will be next, but I will interrupt for breaking news]
1 Some notable examples have been colleagues of Mr. Gricar, Ted McKnight and Robert W. Buehner, Jr.
5 Abram’s Report 6/9/05, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8171216/
7 To avoid confusion, I will refer to Mr. Gricar’s nephew as Tony.
17 She possibly continued to provide information to the police, as she was cited in regard to the erasure software. That information may have been provided earlier.
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