A bit over a year ago, I was back where I started, posting on a message board. It was several months after the famous “dueling press conferences,” and a number of posters were discussing the case. In looking at the then recent conduct of the Centre County District Attorney Michael T. Madeira, in the disappearance of his predecessor, Ray Gricar, I commented. I referred to him as a “stumbling block” in finding the solution to the solution of the mysterious disappearance of Mr. Gricar.
In all fairness, I had not looked at Mr. Madeira’s then two and a half year role in the investigation in great detail. I have now, and frankly I would not characterize his conduct as being a “stumbling block.”
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I would describe Mr. Madeira’s actions as being a twenty ton boulder astride the path to a solution of Mr. Gricar’s disappearance.
Mr. Madeira has failed. He has failed Mr. Gricar, a man who he described (accurately, from what I’ve been told), as “a friend.1” He has also failed the residents (and the electorate) of Centre County as “highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the County.”2 It is more than the investigation happening on his watch, but his actual conduct in regard to the case.
Mr. Madeira began his involvement with the Gricar when he took office. He received an “overview” of the case, which consisted of a ninety minute meeting, which was roughly ten minutes for each month of the investigation. After this, he characterized the investigation as “They [the police] have left no stone unturned3,” a now laughable comment. There were stones unturned, including the computer searches, a failure to look at many of those close to Mr. Gricar4 and the inaccurate claim that Mr. Gricar’s fingerprints were found inside the car. There were also stones that seemed to have been turned in the dead of night, away from the sunlight of public scrutiny. The prime examples of this are the sighting by Mr. Fenton, the witness reported by Mr. McKnight, and the police officer witness in Wilkes-Barre.
I can understand Mr. Madeira making mistakes in first weeks in office. What I cannot understand is his comment when some of these were revealed. Mr. Madeira said that he hoped to talk to Mr. Gricar’s nephew and family spokesman, Tony Gricar, “correct the record on why police stopped going after certain leads or other information ... so he can feel more comfortable.”5 Mr. Madeira, initially, did not say that there may be problems and that there would be attempts to correct them; he actually wanted to explain why the police were not investigating things. It was only a firestorm of negative press that Mr. Madeira relented and called in the Criminal Investigative Analysis Unit of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP-CIA Unit).
And when the PSP-CIA completed its work, what happened? Next to nothing. The person who public requested it, Mr. Madeira, would not say what they found. We only possibly know two things that came out of that investigation. That there was no “inherent risk” to Mr. Gricar and (possibly coming from this investigation) that Mr. Gricar did searches on his home computer about how to destroy a hard drive. Instead of releasing what was discovered, Mr. Madeira engaged in a virtual investigation by press release, only releasing selected information. In the case of the computer searches, this information was known nearly two and a half years prior to its release6.
The secrecy surrounding this case also might reflect on Mr. Madeira’s leadership abilities. There have been many things suggested to advance the Gricar investigation. Here is an index of some other things I, and others, have discussed in the past: Index of What More Can Be Done Many keep the control of the investigation with the Centre County District Attorney’s Office and the Bellefonte Police Department; many have minimal costs, measured in the hundreds of dollars, not thousands of dollars. It has also been suggested that the case is too much of a drain on the Bellefonte Police Department and should be given to the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Officer. Other than the still undisclosed PSP-CIA review of nearly three years ago, Mr. Madeira has done nothing new.
Should Mr. Madeira pursue some of these other methods? Possibly. All that can really be said is that is that Mr. Madeira’s methods so far have failed to yield a public resolution to the Gricar case. One thing that can be said is that Mr. Madeira has, since the minute his term of office started, had the ability to use other methods of investigation, and has failed to do so. I do not blame Mr. Madeira for failing to solve the Gricar case, but I do fault him for not looking at other options when he did fail to provide a solution.
The investigation by press release should concern you, if you are interested in what happened to Ray Gricar. As was shown in prior blogs,
The Investigation Part 12: The Internet Interlude , Release More Information , discussion of the case has prompted leads. It is not theoretical, or a “maybe” situation, more public information has led to new leads in this case. It would be likely to help resolve the Gricar case than hurt it. Here, Mr. Madeira has failed Mr. Gricar, Mr. Gricar’s family and Mr. Gricar’s friends.
The investigation by press release should also concern you, even if you not particularly interested in what happened to Mr. Gricar. There is still a good possibility that Mr. Gricar was the victim of foul play, good enough that you should be very worried about a murderer walking around Central Pennsylvania, perhaps even Centre County, who was smart enough to not only kill Mr. Gricar, a bright and “street smart” prosecutor, but stymie numerous police forces including the Pennsylvania State Police. Mr. Madeira has, by shrouding the investigation in secrecy, kept you from being warned of this possibility.
It was Montour County District Attorney Robert W. Buehner, Jr. who asked, "If this is the quality and quantity of a criminal investigation into the disappearance of a sitting DA, what chance would an average family have if their loved ones went missing?"7 He is right. Yes, so long as there is a reasonably good possibility that Mr. Gricar was murdered (and there is that possibility), the “highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the County,” Mr. Madeira, has failed to protect you.
These are Mr. Madeira’s failures. And for now, these will remain his failures. Even if he were to release more information prior to the November Municipal Election, it would likely be regarded as but a cynical attempt to manufacture an “October Surprise,” especially if the information were found to have been known by Mr. Madeira for years prior to the release. I have not wanted to dwell on the politics of the matter, but they now intersect with the investigation. Only if Mr. Gricar’s remains would be discovered, or if he were to walk into the Centre County Courthouse to claim his pension, would the situation change.
The taint of failure in the Gricar investigation will stick with Mr. Madeira, at this point. It was his now opponent in the election, Stacy Parks Miller, said, "I don't think the community can ever really rest until we have an answer to Ray's disappearance."8 She is right. Mr. Madeira has failed to provide at least some of those answers to the community and has failed to provide other answers for years, even where he knew them. He could have; he has had ample chances to do so. He has not. His conduct in the case, not to mention his strange comments on the investigation, have now ensured that the Gricar investigation will be Mr. Madeira’s failure.
1 CDT, 12/31/05 http://tiny.cc/Sworn774
3 CDT 1/11/06, http://tiny.cc/stones111
5 CDT 5/15/06 http://tiny.cc/justify
6 DC 4/16/09 http://tiny.cc/PSPCI9
7 DC 7/7/08http://tiny.cc/RBquote
8 DC 4/17/09 http://tiny.cc/SPMquote