On the seventh anniversary of the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar, Sara Ganim, the day before she won her Pulitzer, wrote an article on the subject. She did provide some new information, but she also, for the first time, identified, by name, several of Mr. Gricar’s girlfriends. She described him as “a charmer and a ladies’ man.”1
Most of the “old Gricar hands” had some idea Mr. Gricar did date women over the years. Certainly he had two ex-wives, Dr. Barbara Gray, a professor at Penn State, and Emma Gricar, 2 an optician; he divorced them, respectively, in about 1992, and 2001. At the time of his disappearance, he was living with Patty Fornicola, then a clerk at the District Attorney’s Office. The police referred to this group of former wives and women he had dated as "the women." The idea that Mr. Gricar was a monk (or gay) never really held up.
Initially, some of the investigators thought the famous “mystery woman” was former area broadcaster Barbara Petito. She had struck up a friendship with Mr. Gricar while cover him in the early to mid-1990’s. She had been a smoker at the time, and fit the broad description of the mystery woman. She was in New York state (I’m told Long Island) on 4/15/05. She was living in Harrisburg, working as a Deputy Press Secretary for the Attorney General’s Office3 and was thus identified as the “Harrisburg woman.” The new element was that she had seen Mr. Gricar about a fortnight prior to his disappearance, at a press conference in State College called by then Attorney General Tom Corbett.
Another was identified as a “nurse.” I didn’t know her name until the article, Brenda Day. I also didn’t know was that Mr. Gricar had asked her to marry him; she declined. Mr. Gricar filed for divorce from the second Mrs. Gricar in March of 2001; he had moved in with Ms. Fornicola sometime in 2002-03. Unless he made his proposal prior to filing for divorce or while living with Ms. Fornicola, It would have been in that relatively short window between, at most, March of 2001, and early 2003, if not earlier. That is ending one relationship, and starting or trying to start two others in about two years.
Mr. Gricar, during this period, also was flirting with a local waitress, who is not identified. And, in the 1980’s, there was the female “close personal associate,” mentioned in the FBI report.4
Well, that tells us that Mr. Gricar probably wasn’t gay; several friends and acquaintances have indicated that he was not as well. Some of these women were, in high probability, sexual, either current or anticipated. Most men do have sexual relationships with their wives, live in girlfriends, and at least anticipate it with their fiancées. Some of the others might be platonic; I didn’t spend the twenty years prior to Mr. Gricar’s disappearance hiding under his bed, taking notes, so I can’t say for sure.
Probing Mr. Gricar’s social life really is something personal, but it may be relevant. It may however open some possible clues regarding his disappearance.
Witnesses saw Mr. Gricar with the famous “mystery woman” in Lewisburg on the weekend he disappeared. It could be an old girlfriend, maybe someone on this list, but maybe not. It may have been just a woman that briefly struck up a conversation with him and does not even realize she is the “mystery woman.” It may not have been Mr. Gricar, though the odds on that are fairly low.
Many of the known lady friends in Mr. Gricar’s may be able to tell us more about if Mr. Gricar would see another woman while in a relationship. They may be able to tell the police what where he’d like to go when going out. They might be able to tell us if Mr. Gricar would meet a woman for a romantic encounter fifty miles from home. The might be able to tell the police if Mr. Gricar had certain preferences in woman, e.g. some characteristics that would attract or repulse him. Maybe some had spoken with him fairly recently. Ms. Fornicola obviously did, but we now know that Ms. Petito spoke with him about 16 days before he disappeared. Perhaps some of the others did as well. Could he have made some comment that might give us a clue to his fate.
There are other possibilities. One is that one of these lady friends might have helped him to walk away, providing him with a car or a ride out. Another is the “lover’s quarrel” possibility; he met someone that he trusted, but they had an argument that turned violent. It would even be possible that her significant other was involved.
One thing that I have advocated, for a while, is looking at those close to Mr. Gricar, including these female friends, determining where they were, and interviewing them. They are part of that “Inner Circle” of associates.5
Even with that, investigators still might have a problem. Mr. Gricar’s second marriage was characterized as “turbulent,” by Ms. Ganim. Mr. Sloane noted that the second Mrs. Gricar spend some that marriage his kitchen table, being consoled by his wife. Mrs. Gricar complained that she could never seem to connect with Mr. Gricar. Well, from what has been reported, she wasn’t alone in that.
There was a lot more in Ms. Ganim’s article, and it is worth a second look.
While I have in the past declined to identify the second Mrs. Gricar by name, she is quoted in the story and is planning to write a book about the case (which I’ll buy). She has chosen to more closely associate herself with the case.
3 Ms. Petito had been with the Attorney General’s Office since 1997. Now Governor Corbett had served as appointed Attorney General from 10/3/95 to 1/21/97 and served as the elected Attorney General from 1/18/05 until 1/18/11. (http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/theoffice.aspx?id=170 )
Ms. Petito was served under several different Attorneys General, and was not someone “brought in” because of a personal allegiance to Mr. Corbett.
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