When writing about the disappearance of Ray Gricar, Centre County’s former district attorney, commentators often talk about movement, or lack thereof, in the case. Simply put, it means some new information has come out, something that isn’t ruled out almost immediately. Well, this is no movement in the case. There is, however, movement of the case. The agency that will be leading the investigation will no longer be the Bellefonte Police Department. The lead agency will be Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).1
That is a good thing, in general, for several reasons.
First, and most importantly, the PSP has substantially more resources than the Bellefonte Police Department (BPD). We have seen that they have been looking at the possibility that Mr. Gricar is in Europe, to the point of distributing flyers in Slovenia, and battlefields he talked about visiting.2 There are questions about how much they can look at his finances; I’ve never heard of the BPD Forensic Auditing Unit.
Second, just about everyone in local law enforcement knew Mr. Gricar. That can be a good thing, but it also can impact the perceptions of the people looking for him. We saw this very early on. The members of the BPD of the day had reports, as early as 4/16/05, that Mr. Gricar was seen with a “Mystery Woman.” This was not widely disseminated until 5/11/06, more than a year later. “Sensitivity” was cited as the reason, because the police who knew Mr. Gricar, and his girlfriend, did not want people to think that Mr. Gricar might have been with another woman.3 As this Mystery Woman might have had valuable information on what happened to Mr. Gricar. Out of a sense of “legacy protection” valuable information may have been lost. The PSP may be less concerned about legacy and more about the resolution of the case.
There is also the flip side of the coin. Many people think that Mr. Gricar’s disappearance was voluntary, walkaway or suicide. Former Centre County District Attorney Michael, who headed the investigation for four years thought he probably walked away.4 Former lead detective, Darrel Zaccagni, thought he committed suicide.2 Almost four years ago, current District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said, “The only thing I will say is that I believe homicide is the least likely, but we rule out nothing.”5 They may be right, and Mr. Gricar was not the victim of foul play, but a fresh perspective may lead to a different conclusion, one with solid evidence. Perhaps they will find evidence confirming one of those theories.
This is nothing new for the PSP. In 2006, their Criminal Investigative Analysis unit reviewed the case and may have involved in discovering of the computer searches.6
There can be a downside as well. The Betsy Aardsma murder has been held by the PSP since 1969, and remains unsolved, though there is a plausible suspect. The PSP is known for being more tightlipped that local law enforcement. Still, on the whole, this good news and the BPD, the review panel, and the District Attorney deserve credit, and thanks, for still trying to do more. Moving the case might ultimately lead to movement in the case.
If you should have any information on the disappearance of Ray Gricar, call 800-472-8477 or 800-4PATIPS.
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
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