In the previous blog about the mysterious disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar, I talked about things that we could rule out as explanations for his disappearance. We cannot, at this point, rule in any single explanation for that question, “What happened to Ray Gricar?” There are elements of what happened in the events surrounding Mr. Gricar’s disappearance that we can rule in. They happened, but what do they tell us about his disappearance.
1. Ray Gricar was in Lewisburg on 4/15/05, at least until the late afternoon. The Mini Cooper Mr. Gricar was driving was in Lewisburg. A bloodhound found his scent in the parking where his car was found.1 His DNA was found in a water bottle in the car2; Mr. Gricar was known to be fanatical about the car clean, so it unlikely it was there from a previous drive.
There are at least 10 witnesses that either had contact with Mr. Gricar on that day, or that saw him on the road to Lewisburg, or in and around Lewisburg on 4/15/05.3 At least one of the witnesses, one that saw him in route, knew Mr. Gricar well enough to recognize him on that day.4 The times that he was spotted by the witnesses corroborates the other witnesses.
2. Ray Gricar was planning to be in Lewisburg that day and did not communicate the purpose of the trip. He had generated a map on the desktop in his office to Lewisburg at some point prior to 4/15/05.5 Mr. Gricar could have giving directions or checking the driving time for someone else, but he was a prosecutor, not a travel agent. There was no official business in Lewisburg, as it is well outside of his jurisdiction.
Mr. Gricar could have easily left a note about the trip, told his girlfriend, Patty Fornicola, where he was going, even from the car, or told one of his staffers where he was going. His closest friend, Steve Sloane, was recuperating at home from an accident. Mr. Gricar could have called him and told him where he was going. He could have printed out the map and left it on his desk.
3. Ray Gricar wanted to destroy the data on his laptop and had the laptop with him on 4/15/05. For about a year prior to his disappearance Mr. Gricar had been asking around about getting rid of the data on his computer6; he had purchased software to do just that. The police revealed that he had done searches on his desk top to do it.7 A witness reported seeing Mr. Gricar with the laptop in the Mini in Lewisburg.8 Nobody is known to have actually seen him toss the drive or the computer, though he was seen in close proximity to where the drive was tossed.9
Someone else, in theory, could have tossed the drive and the laptop, but no one else could have asked other people about getting rid of the data. Certainly the intent was there, as was the opportunity, and the ability to toss the drive from the riverbank and the laptop from the Mini while on the bridge.
Well, what do these three things suggest? Well, it would hugely unlikely that a suicidal Mr. Gricar would need a map to go to Lewisburg to commit suicide. He was familiar with the location, having visited it many times in the past. If he was planning suicide, he wouldn’t need to be worried about the mileage or how long the trip would take. There are other problems with the suicide theory that make it even weaker. Perhaps nearly destroying suicide the suicide theory is the most that these three things do.
Voluntary departure? Yes, the computer destruction would be consistent with Mr. Gricar hiding his plans to leave, the arrangements as it were. Planning the first leg of the trip would account for the map, especially if he wanted to double check the drive time for himself or someone that would help him walk away. He obviously wouldn’t announce his departure. Mr. Gricar would not readily recognized in Lewisburg, which is not in Central Pennsylvania media market,10 and could have used it as a departure point.
Foul play? Yes. If Mr. Gricar were meeting someone in Lewisburg, he would obviously go there. He had plan that meeting, i.e., arrange with time and place to meet the other person. The map might have been generated to give the drive time to someone else, or to check his own drive time. So those two elements fit.
The element that doesn’t fit directly is taking the laptop. We do, however, know that Mr. Gricar had a longstanding desire to destroy the data on the laptop and that he looked at water damage to laptops on his computer. As noted in a previous blog he might have decided that he would be in Lewisburg anyhow, it would be a good time to get rid of the laptop.8 Simply put, he might have decided to arrive early, toss the drive and the laptop, and then meet the person he had arranged to meet.
This is consistent with the witness reports of 4/15/05, and would be ruled out by the witness reports of 4/16/05.11 Around lunchtime he was seen alone across from the Packwood House, but then he was not seen until between 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM.
If this is a meeting that ended in murder, we can say one thing about it. Mr. Gricar was not too worried about his physical wellbeing. He didn’t leave a note stating who he was meeting on his desk. There wasn’t an email to his office computer that said, “I’m going to meet X.” He didn’t tell anyone whom he was meeting. His cell phone was turned off,1 which would mean it could not be located quickly, if something happened to him. Mr. Gricar wasn’t worried.
We know some things about the disappearance of Mr. Gricar, but not enough to answer the question, “What happened to Ray Gricar?” What is known fits almost as well with foul play as it does with voluntary departure. Only the theory that seemed the most likely possibility in the first months after his disappearance, suicide, does not fit.
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