Generally I try to do a blog on the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar about once a week. This past week, I didn’t. There were some reasons, which, tangentially, do have a bearing on the investigation into the Gricar disappearance, and maybe about investigations in general.
The main reason that I didn’t write a blog last week was that I had professional obligations to perform. I retired from my day job more than a decade ago, but since then, I’ve done some consulting (in a different profession). October is generally a busy time for me, and this October happened to particularly busy. It did tell me something very important about the Gricar case, however.
What it told me was that, “Life goes on.” It is very difficult to do nothing but focus on the Gricar disappearance 24/7. This applies to not just Mr. Gricar’s family and friends, but to the people in law enforcement. Crime didn’t stop in Bellefonte, Centre County, or Pennsylvania when Mr. Gricar disappeared. While the case, over the last six years needed to be a higher priority that it was at some points, it could not the sole priority. Likewise, we cannot expect Mr. Gricar’s family and friends to do nothing but focus on the case for the last six years. They all have additional obligations, both personal and professional, as I did.
Crime, along with life, goes on, and that leads to second reason I have not written recently. A family of another potential crime victim contacted me through a mutual friend and asked me to look at a case. They were aware that I’m not in law enforcement, but they still permitted me to look at the police and autopsy reports and some very graphic crime scene photos. I wrote up a several page report on my observations, dispassionately. That told be something about law enforcement; to do the job effectively, you have to put your emotions in check. That gave me a bit more respect for people in law enforcement.
A third thing I did was follow up some leads. One, I’ll share with you.
A gentleman, I’ll call him G, sent me an e-mail about a possible connection between Mr. Gricar and a murder of a man known as “Joe King.”1 Mr. King, a man in his seventies, somewhat of recluse, was found murdered in his Akron home in 2008. His death was caused by a combination of a gunshot wound in the stomach and by having his fingers cut off; the fingers were then pureed in a blender. Mr. King left an estate worth in excess of four million dollars; including the house where his body was discovered. There was another problem; the real Joe King died not in 2008, but in 1932 as a child. The ersatz “Joe King” had stolen his identity.
G noticed something that made him think of the Gricar case, beyond the Northeast Ohio connection? The real Joe King was born at the hospital in Bellefonte. He wondered if there was a connection between the two.
Well, a quarter of the state of Ohio isn’t exactly a small place. “Joe King” had purchased his home in 1979, well before Mr. Gricar lived in Bellefonte; Mr. Gricar had obviously not been in Akron since 1979. The old Bellefonte Hospital had merged and closed; after a few checks it became clear that some records were not well kept and that might have made Bellefonte a good choice for someone wanting to create an identity.
You might think that “Joe King” would tell me that people can establish a new identity and live under it for decades. Well, I knew about that a few years ago. We’ve seen a couple of examples, also from Northeast Ohio, Mel Wiley2 and “Joseph Newton Chandler.”3 There is a connection between the Wiley case and Mr. Gricar, but not with the Chandler case or the case of Joe King. Both are interesting, but except for showing that it is possible to successfully disappear voluntarily, neither is connected to Mr. Gricar’s disappearance. It does show that there are dead ends out there, which often don’t pan out. They take time to check out, and to rule out.
I have that time, usually, but last week was an exception. I’m certain that the police and Mr. Gricar’s family and friends, don’t have quite as much free time as I do. Granted, they also greater resources than I do, but they’d still be faced with some of the same delays I have experienced in the last week.
Centre Daily Times Ray Gricar Section: http://www.centredaily.com/138/
Link to the Main Index for Sporadic Comments on Ray Gricar: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/21/2597340/main-index-32011.html
E-mail J. J. in Phila at email@example.com