I’ve been writing this blog on the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar for about four years. Let me put this into perspective. I started this blog a few days before former District Attorney Michael T. Madeira turned the Sandusky complaint over to the Attorney General’s Office. I had been asking questions about the case over the Internet since November 2005. I guess I’m one of those people that gets the title of an “old Gricar hand.” There are a few of us still around, but none of us can answer the question, “What happened to Ray Gricar?” We can answer the question, “What didn’t happen to Ray Gricar.”
There are several things, some popular, explanations that fall apart when looking at them closely. They are about as likely as the possibility that Mr. Gricar was eaten by a troll living under the bridge in Lewisburg.
1. Ray Gricar and another woman drove off into the sunset both assuming a new identity. This usually comes up when the “Mystery Woman” is mentioned.1
Well, no other woman that Mr. Gricar knew is missing; no other person from the area has been reported missing in the year after Mr. Gricar disappeared (and not found). If Mr. Gricar walked away and did so with another woman, she was still maintaining her identity. He would have been likely to be recognized at some point by her acquaintances, so even that is unlikely.
2. Ray Gricar is in the “Witness Protection Program.” Well, it is actually called the Witness Security Program. One of the great problems is that there has been no indication that Mr. Gricar witnessed anything. It could be argued that he did witness something relating to the Sandusky case. No one, outside of those people involved in the investigation in 1998, knew about the case in 2005.
There is another problem. In 2012, Mr. Gricar could have been a witness. In his opening argument Sandusky’s attorney, Joseph Amendola, brought up that Mr. Gricar had declined to prosecute Sandusky in 1998, saying, “Mr. Gricar would prosecute anyone who he thought a crime was committed, and he was particularly protective of kids.” He added, “And it was Mr. Gricar who made the decision not to prosecute.”2 While Mr. Amendola’s argument did not work, and Sandusky was convicted of ten of the eleven charges related to the 1998 incident, bringing in Mr. Gricar to explain that decision would refute the premise. So even when Mr. Gricar could have been a witness, he was not. We can dismiss this one.
3. Ray Gricar was followed and killed by a drug ring he was prosecuting. Well, the case of Taji “Verbal” Lee and was a major case. Neither Mr. Gricar nor the Centre County District Attorney’s Office was prosecuting the case. It was being handled by then Deputy Attorney General Michael T. Madeira.3 Mr. Gricar’s photo, however, did appear with those of other officials in a press conference held by then Attorney General Tom Corbett.
Well, we do have witness accounts, and some physical evidence, of Mr. Gricar’s travels on 4/15/05. He drove for about 50 miles to Lewisburg, down a not well traveled Route 192. Then he drove to close, but different locations in Lewisburg. If he was being followed, why didn’t he spot the car that was following him for perhaps six hours? Further, Mr. Gricar drove through an area without cell phone coverage while going down Route 192. If someone wanted to kill him, why not force his car off the road there, in a rural area where there could be fewer witnesses, and where he couldn’t call for help.
There is also the “no body” problem. Prosecutors are rarely murdered for their official conduct, but it does happen.4 It happened early this year, in Texas. A prosecutor named Mark Hasse was gunned down outside of a courthouse.5 There was no attempt to hide the body. One effect of his murder was creating fear in others in the criminal justice system. Without a body, that message could not be sent.
So this theory falls apart on several grounds, but it doesn’t preclude Mr. Gricar being lured to Lewisburg and murdered, but not to send a message.
4. Someone on staff lured Ray Gricar to Lewisburg, where he was murdered. The usually comes up when someone on staff in 2005 does something improper or odd, and there has been no shortage of that since 2005.
Now, everyone on staff had basically daily contact with Mr. Gricar at work. There would be nothing unusual about any of them being seen with Mr. Gricar. All of them could have requested a private meeting with him in his office, with the door closed. Could you imagine his reaction to any of them if they had said, “Ray, I want to speak to you privately. Meet me in a town fifty miles away and in another county?”
Even if for some reason this hypothetical staff member did not want to discuss this in the office, it would still be known in the community that the person was on staff. It would be expected to see them together, possibly discussing something official, over lunch, or even possibly sitting on bench or walking along the streets of Bellefonte. All the staff lived in the area, so the meeting could take place at the staff member’s home, or at Mr. Gricar’s residence. Anyone seeing them together would assume that they were discussing a work situation.
There is no plausible “lure” that any one of them could have used to get Mr. Gricar to Lewisburg, at least based on a personal discussion.
All these theories get bandied about websites and in comment sections. None of them hold up. A troll living under a bridge in Lewisburg is probably just as good an explanation for Mr. Gricar’s disappearance than any of these.
2 http://wearecentralpa.com/sanduskytrial_documents (Defense Opening, p. 7)
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