DISCOVERY is the Right Name

Posted on March 1, 2011 

            Last night, the Investigative Discovery channel aired an episode of its Disappeared program on former Centre County Attorney Ray Gricar.  I wrote, in my last entry, “At the very least, Disappeared can become a video milk carton with Mr. Gricar’s face on it.1  This was a lot more than a video milk carton; with this show, I wasn’t laughing, but doing something with intensity I have not done since an undergraduate.  I was taking notes.  I’m going to have to change my odds once again and a few more things.

            The show is a wealth of information, and not, it wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t solve the case, but we now have more.  There were many things, but I want to start with the most important.  Mr. Gricar Googled a route to Lewisburg on his office computer, despite having been there multiple times.  That is important in one respect.  It is solid evidence that Mr. Gricar was planning to go to Lewisburg at some point before he was last in the office.   His trip was not random.

            Now, why would Mr. Gricar need to do that?   I do it occasionally, for two reasons.  Rarely, I use it to check mileage for a business trip (usually when I’m sending my taxes to my accountant).  The problem is, Mr. Gricar had already filed his taxes and there was very little business related for him in Lewisburg.  The second reason I do it, and why I’d expect Mr. Gricar to do it, is get a good estimate of the time of the trip.  That points to something scheduled in Lewisburg, specifically.

            There was more.

            - A witness that described as a “Courthouse worker” saw Mr. Gricar turning onto Route 192 in Centre Hall on the morning of 4/15/05 (giving a minimum of seven witnesses that saw Mr. Gricar driving the Mini on 4/15, and a minimum of nine that saw him after he left Lewisburg).  Yes, I’ll have to update the list.

            - The time Mr. Gricar was seen at Lake Raystown on 4/14/05 was between 10:30 and 11:00 AM.

            - The police do have the DNA from the cigarette butts found near the Mini Cooper, but there is no match on a criminal database.

            - While Mr. Gricar had been working hard that week, he had been moving cases to others and trying to disengage a bit from being district attorney.  I had heard this, but not publicly.  (That isn’t too unusual because he was planning to retire.)

            - The trip to Cleveland to watch the Indians occurred after he became “fed up,” according to reports from his ex-wife.

            - The police response was very quick as this involved a “brother” law enforcement officer, in Deputy Zaccagni’s words.  They initially searched the Brush Valley area because they thought that Mr. Gricar might have had an accident.  There isn’t anything strange in either.

            - The 4/15/05 movements of Mr. Gricar’s girlfriend, Patty Fornicola were more detailed.  She left for the local YMCA shortly after 5:00 PM and was there for about two hours.

            - The trip to Cleveland to watch the Indians occurred after he became “fed up,” according to reports from his ex-wife.

            There was another development, and a very welcome one.  Last summer, I wrote about “The Great Retreat,”3, 4 how several people close to Mr. Gricar had pulled back from public contact on the case.  These included Mr. Gricar’s nephew and the family spokesman, Tony, his close friend and then coworker, Steve Sloane, his girlfriend, Patty Fornicola, and his daughter, Lara.  I characterized Tony’s retreat as more a “strategic withdrawal,” and praised Mr. Sloane when he did an about face and began speaking to the press over the summer.  I was pleased and surprised when both Ms. Fornicola and Ms. Gricar extensively participated in this episode of “Disappeared.” 

            I was also pleased to see Deputy Darrel Zaccagni and Detective Matt Rickard, the former and current lead detectives, respectively, participating strongly in the program.  Their commitment speaks volumes.

            I talked about the last television show on the Gricar disappearance, “Nancy Grace American’s Missing,” and how laughably biased it was.  “Disappeared” was not.  It was balanced, very straightforward and frankly, very well done.  If you want to see a good television program on the Gricar case, watch this one; it has been the best one I’ve seen.

            That said, I saw a few things that raised questions:

            - The Mini Cooper was depicted as being at the corner of the lot across from the Street of Shops.  Tony Gricar’s photo indicated that it was in the middle of the second row; the car was moved.  I wonder which is correct?  That could be significant.

            - The time that Mr. Gricar left the Courthouse on 4/14/05 was given as 8:03 PM.  The time that I’ve seen is 9:07 PM.  They did run the surveillance tape, which is the first time it has ever been aired in public.

            “Disappeared” was a quality depiction of the Ray Gricar case.  It was more than a video milk carton and may help lead to a solution to the case.  It will probably be rerun again and again, and it will be worth it. I can only encourage you to watch it.

 

Edit:  Time changed from 11:00 to 10:30 to 11:00 AM.

 

End Note

1 http://www.centredaily.com/2011/02/27/2547727/day-of-investigation-discovery.html#ixzz1FJg22FiB

2 http://www.centredaily.com/2009/02/28/2397115/a-change-in-demeanor-and-activity.html

3 http://www.centredaily.com/2010/08/03/2397492/the-great-retreat-part-1.html

4 http://www.centredaily.com/2010/08/06/2397502/the-great-retreat-part-2.html

5 http://www.centredaily.com/2011/01/28/2483200/grace-note.html

 

E-mail J. J. in Phila at scorg@live.com

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