I’ve never been a big fan of the late Frank Sinatra, but like most people, I’ve heard him sing the song “My Way.” They played at my grandmother’s funeral; if you knew her, you’d understand. The lyrics were written by Paul Anka, who written everything from the theme to Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show to co-writing Michael Jackson’s “This is it.”1 That’s quite a range.
Mr. Anka wrote “My Way” as a retirement song for Mr. Sinatra; it was to be Mr. Sinatra’s swan song, though his retirement proved to be short-lived. It contains these lyrics: “Regrets I've had a few, But then again too few to mention.”2
Well, I’m not planning to retire from blogging at this point (the editor may have other ideas). I do have some regrets, just a few, about looking at the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar. Unlike Mr. Sinatra, I’ve decided they should be mentioned.
Regret #1: When the news that Mr. Gricar was missing broke, I wasn’t paying close attention to the case. I looked at the initial story and thought that the reason was probably suicide, by drowning; “probably” means above 50%. An accident, he fell into the river and was drowned came in second, with murder a close third. In all cases, I was sure Mr. Gricar’s body would be found in a few weeks at most, in or along the Susquehanna.
I never paid attention to the scope of the searches of the river and didn’t pay any attention to the post April 16 witnesses3. It was not for nearly six months that I ever publicly asked a question about the case.4 I also initially tried to steer away from message boards, though over the next four months, I started reading them. I never thought that the case would be unsolved more than five years later. I never thought I’d be blogging about it more than five years later either.
Regret #2: I should have been less concerned about Mr. Gricar’s reputation and more concerned about what happened to him. My predecessor referred to this as members of the chattering class thinking Mr. Gricar was “Superman.” (I’m hoping to discuss his true legacy as District Attorney in a future blog.)
For years after there were published reports of rumors circulating and commented on by Ms. Fornicola, both before and after the Mystery Woman one witness saw with Mr. Gricar in Lewisburg was emphasized, I still wouldn’t talk about the possibility. It was a bit of self censorship on my part, even knowing that Mr. Gricar was twice divorced and living with his girlfriend.
After Montour County District Attorney Robert W. Buehner, Jr. publicly released his letter to Mr. Madeira, it was very clear that this could be a possibility.5 He asked that the possibility that Mr. Gricar checked into a motel with a woman be investigated Mr. Buehner was a friend of Mr. Gricar who knew him in informal situations and he is convinced that his friend was a murder victim. If he thinks it is possible Mr. Gricar was spending the night with a woman, I bloody well have to believe it is possible and consider it. I have since I started writing this blog.
It is surprising that some people still, after all of this, think I really shouldn’t be talking about it. One poster, who’s done some guest blogs on another site, called it, “efforts to paint Gricar as some kind of Lothario.”6 I may be the tour guide, but I’m not the artist of any of the portraits in this gallery.
The question always should have always been “What happened to Mr. Gricar,” not, “How will whatever happened to Mr. Gricar look in the paper.”
Regret #3: I should been critical of former District Attorney Michael T. Madeira’s conduct in the Gricar investigation much earlier. Okay, everyone, close your collective mouths.
I was critical of Mr. Madeira’s conduct in the Gricar case, on-line, but not until after the dueling press conferences. I didn’t know Mr. Buehner at the time and I still question the advisability of his suggestion to turn the case over to the State Attorney General’s Office. I was appalled that Mr. Madeira had not responded or even indicated what law enforcement was doing from December of 2006 until July of 2008. After his initial non-response, I slowly became more critical on message boards; I called him a “stumbling block”7 to the solution; that is not exactly strong criticism. I still, even on message boards, basically gave him a two and half year pass.
The first blog in which I was really critical of Mr. Madeira’s conduct in the Gricar investigation was July of 2009, the anniversary of the dueling press conferences.8 I was blogging for months before I was openly critical of his conduct in the Gricar case; some of his foibles and failings I did not even realize until I began researching the investigation. The tenure of Mr. Madeira was marked with foot dragging, sitting on information, and a sting of strange comments. I did not expect him (or his successor) to completely solve the case in a month, but when this continued for months with nothing, I should have said more.
Regret #4: I should have looked at the Southfield sighting much sooner. This is one where nearly everyone dropped the ball. It was reported, discussed by the police publicly, listed, and then virtually ignored for five years.9
There was never a look at the details of the Southfield, and the parallels with some of the other sightings, was never public checked, until June of 2010.10 That was more than five years after it was reported. I should have looked at it a lot earlier, like when I was looking at the other witness sightings, or after the entry on 20/20 Vision.
I only give this sighting, based on the witness and the circumstances, a 50% likelihood of being accurate, but it is the only post April sighting that reaches that level. It may or may not have been Mr. Gricar, but it deserves greater attention.
Those are my regrets. I asked my first question about the disappearance of then District Attorney Ray Gricar over four and a half years ago. I guess an average of slightly less than a single regret per year constitutes “a few.”
I still have those regrets. For me, it serves as a reminder that when I’m about to criticize someone else, especially the police in general and Detectives Zaccagni and Rickard in particular, for not being perfect, that I’m not perfect either.
3 And there was not a lot being discussed in the media or on the Internet until years later.
5 I have a copy of the text of the letter, which was published in CDT.
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