There is a good argument for releasing more information about the Gricar case. It has been suggested by numerous people, including a former police officer (Slamdunk), a former assistant district attorney (Ms. Arnold), and a former reporter (Mr. Bosak). You can add my name to the list, as an ex-politician and ex-bureaucrat. :)
Now, there are reasons that have been given for releasing this information, some good, some bad. I want to deal with the bad reasons first.
Never miss a local story.
The first reason given is that the public has a right to know. With a some of evidence yes. In the case some other pieces of evidence, no.
First, there can be disclosures that really will damage the investigation. If this turns out to be an example of foul play, and there is a good chance it might, some released information might help the perpetrator escape.
Second, there are legitimate privacy issues. Take the cell phone records. Assume that Mr. Gricar, during the week before he disappeared, during the course of conducting his official duties he called you at your private number. You have no idea what happened to him; you are not a criminal and was never any implication that you were. Perhaps you were a witness to a crime, or that he contacted you regarding a charitable donation. Why should your private number be spread over the pages of newspapers or the Internet?
The second argument is that it will end the speculation around the case. First, factually, it may not. The evidence may not be conclusive.
Second, I’ve seen the speculation around the most recent release of information, that Mr. Gricar did searches on his computer about how to eliminate data on a hard drive. Several posters have insisted that it would be impossible to prove that. From what I’ve heard about Detective Rickard, if he says he can, he can; I’d like to know how he can prove it as well, but I doubt that he’s bluffing. The thing about this piece evidence that it just supports evidence from what others have said about Mr. Gricar’s intent and it doesn’t really support any theory about what happened to him. Releasing the information won’t stop the speculation.
Those are two not very strong reasons to release the information, but there is one very strong reason. Releasing more information will generate leads. My fellow blogger, Slamdunk, noted this in regard to the other searches.
He noted “it may lead to someone linking previously unconnected dots,” and that, if necessary, the search list could be “filtered,” as a method for protecting privacy. He also made another good point, “If it is determined later to be a crime, the defense for anyone charged, will have access to the search term list anyway, … .”
Slamdunk is right, because the evidence released has already led “to someone linking previously unconnected dots.” At least twice, people looking at the case from the outside have found something.
The first example involves the role of the novel 20/20 Vision in this case. It wasn’t until several years after the disappearance that author, Pamela West, learned of Mr. Gricar disappeared. Ms. West heard about the case from a friend and then began reading about the detail online. She noticed the similarities, especially the date, April 15th. You can read about it here http://tiny.cc/Clues [Be warned, this set off my virus alert as a “phishing” site, but earlier attempts didn’t. My antivirus has given some false positives.] The interesting this is that a day after this, a retired State Police Corporal revealed that Mr. Gricar had read 20/20 Vision, a piece of information unknown to Ms. West at the time.
Ms. West saw something and connected the dots. Unknown to her, there was evidence that Mr. Gricar actually read 20/20 Vision, that came out a day later. All of this was from public sources of information.
The second one is Mr. Gricar’s interest in the disappearance of Hinckley Township Ohio Police Chief Mel Wiley, in 1985. I was asked on a message board if anyone “responsible” had every walked away, and I remembered the Wiley case, but not by name. I did remember reading it in Time in the late summer of 1985 (my father had a heath situation in early August from which he never fully recovered, so I associated the story with that). I Googled some of details, and found the story, along with that of the more famous Jay Carsey, subject of the book Exit the Rainmaker. I was very surprised when Ms. Arnold indicated, in her “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury,” that she might have heard to the case discussed at the office. I was even more surprised that she mentioned it in her introduction.
I sent an e-mail to Mr. Bosak about six months later (My father succumbed to that health crisis in the interim, which left me somewhat busy.) and suggested that see if anyone in the office remembered Mr. Gricar did. He contacted Mr. Sloane, who remembered it, at least seven years after the fact.
Both are cases of the public connecting the dots. It might be a coincidence, but it might also be a lead, one that will give the solution. If there ever is a criminal charge involving the disappearance, the defense will get the information as a matter of course. By redacting some of the personal information, privacy can be protected. How many more dots can be connected if more information is released? It’s impossible to say, but maybe all of them.
I hope to expand on this topic in a future post. In the meantime for more information of the link to the Wiley case and 20/20 Vision see: