Monday, February 28, 2011 (tomorrow or today depending when you are reading this) is a day a number of observers of the Gricar case have been waiting for since last summer. The mysterious disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar will be explored on the Investigation Discovery series Disappeared at 9:00 PM. The episode is titled, "A Family's Curse." No they are not paying me to mention them. Disappeared profiles missing persons cases, some of which are resolved, many of which are not.
I don’t know what they are going to say, but I do know the show. It tends to be very straightforward and doesn’t force a conclusion. I read the comments of a family member of another subject of the show, who spoke approvingly of it, though admitted that parts of it were hard to watch.
I also know that Disappeared has gotten results. Less than a fortnight ago, I wrote about the case of Michelle McMullen.1 Ms. McMullen disappeared, but she later found to have fled to avoid prosecution. Her story was profiled on Disappeared, and someone watching a rerun of it spotted her, now living under an assumed named in California, and called the police. She was found, and promptly arrested. At the very least, Disappeared can become a video milk carton with Mr. Gricar’s face on it.
We’ve also had some hints about who they would be interviewing. One is Mr. Gricar’s close friend, and former coworker, Steve Sloane. Another is the former lead detective in the case Darrel Zaccagni, now a deputy sheriff in Centre County (well, at least the last time I heard). Both can offer excellent perspectives on the case. They may give the public, you know, most of us, something new.
I must admit that I’ve surprised at some of the members of the chattering class “pre-reaction” to Disappeared. One person actually complained that they would be interviewing Deputy Zaccagni. Yes, there was actually a complaint about having the lead investigator that started on the case on 4/16/05, and served in that capacity for almost the next two years, providing insight. Another complaint was that the car used in the re-enactment had a dent in it. Yes, a dent.
Most people are smart enough to realize a re-enactment is just that, a re-enactment, not the actual event. They realize that Robert Stack really wasn’t standing there, narrating each murder, kidnapping, or UFO landing they saw on Unsolved Mysteries. I expect Disappeared to be good, but not perfect.
I don’t expect Disappeared singlehandedly solve the disappearance of Ray Gricar either. It may help, as that video milk carton, at worst. At best, something new might come out that will help someone connect the dots. If you watch it, you might be that person who connects the dots.
E-mail J. J. in Phila at firstname.lastname@example.org