The Great Retreat, Part 2

Posted by JJinPhila on August 6, 2010 

There has been a gradual withdrawal of those that were close to former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar from the public sphere.  The first part looked at the withdrawal of Mr. Gricar’s daughter, girlfriend, and one of his closest friends who was also a coworker.  This will look at the family spokesman, the greatest public presence outside of law enforcement  in the case.

Like the first part, this is basically a chronology.  It is not a conclusion or a criticism.  This is what happened, not why it happened.

            The family spokesman is Tony Gricar1, who assumed the role of family spokesman in the summer of 2005.  As previously indicated, one of his first contributions to the public case was the website “Ray Gricar is Missing.”  This was created about a month after Mr. Gricar disappeared.2  It was Tony along with his brother, Chris, and Patty Fornicola who reviewed the video tape of the man in Cleveland reported to be Mr. Gricar; that sighting was ruled out.3 By August of 2005, Tony was speaking, solely on the discovery of the laptop.4  Tony continued through 2006, being the main commentator on the firestorm after “Missed Leads” in May of 2006, meeting with then District Attorney Madeira to ask him to transfer the case,5 the Code Book, the PSP-CIA review in December of 2006,6 the assigning of the case to Detective Matt Rckard,7 the J. Karen Arnold’s LGJ 8 the famous press conferences of Mr. McKnight and Mr. Buehner, July 2008.9  Also through this period, Tony entered the realm of the “chattering class,” message boards.10  In short, he was out there speaking for his uncle.  The main reason he deserves a separate entry is because he was such an active as the family spokesman.

            It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Tony on the Internet Sea.  There were various back and forth exchanges on the Internet, with various people (and at least one brief one with me).11   There were more than a few suggestions, both on message boards and in comments on news stories, that he, and/or Ms. Gricar, was hiding their uncle, part of some sort of a Gricar family conspiracy.  It was not just on-line.  In one case, in 2008, a reporter showed up at Tony’s lake house unannounced and then flashed a photo of Mr. Gricar to people at the marina bar, inquiring if anyone had seen him.

            Tony did not retreat, but at the fourth anniversary, he began a strategic withdrawal.  It started with the release of the computer searches; the police released the information without informing him.  When he heard about it, from CDT reporter Sara Ganim, he said, “To me, it looks like it absolutely knocks out the theory of foul play.”  He added, “But I’d be a fool to say that I can rule out or can’t rule out homicide at this point.”12   Tony publicly complained about being "blindsided by this proverbial curveball."  He also said that “the public would be rightfully outraged," if his uncle had left voluntarily.13  He posted a few things on a message board soon after that, but that was it.14   I could not find a record of his return to the chattering class.

            In late November, after the election which saw Stacy Parks Miller assent to the District Attorney’s Office, the family web site, maintained since May of 2005, went down due to technical problem.  The last time I heard from Tony, it was in late November of 2009, after the election.  He indicated that there was a technical problem with the website, but that it should be up in the next day or two.  That was the last time I heard from him.  It has been more than eight months, and the website still has not been functional; it appears that the lease on it has expired.15  With that, the strategic withdrawal was finished, but it was not a complete retreat. 

            In 2010, the family spokesman, once at the forefront of the public case, has spoken publicly on only two occasions.  First, Tony commented, on Ms. Parks Miller’s role in the case, upon her announcement of the review, saying, “So far we’re extremely pleased with Stacy Parks Miller’s role in this. We’re very comfortable with her and her role in this, and her communication is great. She’s walked into the largest case that they’ve seen in that area, and we’ll see where it takes us from here.”16   This was perhaps a muted response from someone who called for “a fresh set of eyes,”7 and with the possibility of the case spreading beyond the Bellefonte Police Department.  Second, Tony commented at the fifth anniversary, about a fortnight later saying:  “You start to move on. There’s definitely that aspect of it. Then you get something new, and there’s hope that we can get at least some closure on this. I think everybody has their opinions on it, but there’s nothing really factual that can lead to one theory over another.”17  It wasn’t a particularly optimistic comment, in light of a new investigative initiative.

            An article in the DC, on the fifth anniversary, noted, “Plenty of people don't want to talk about Ray Gricar.” 18 If anything, this is an understatement.  Some like Ms. Parks Miller and, yes, Mr. Madeira may not be able to talk too much about it because of professional ethics.  The rest are not.  It came down to, Tony Gricar, Mr. Buehner, and “a leader,” supposedly, of “an online quest to find Gricar,” to talk about the case.  Well, at least Tony and Mr. Buehner knew Mr. Gricar.

            This is a chronology, not a conclusion nor a criticism; it doesn’t answer the question why. 

End Notes

1  To avoid confusion, I will refer to Mr. Gricar’s nephew as Tony.









10  Some of these comments are gone, except when quoted by others.  Here are some examples:


Tony Gricar appeared under his own name no later than the summer of 2006 and has been suggested that he appearing under a different screen name prior to that.  I frankly never asked.








14  The original post has been deleted, but it was copied the next day, by another poster:

15  The site was here:










E-mail J. J. in Phila at



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