[This is another reprint with slight updating]
When discussing the disappearance of Ray Gricar, a few have indicated that they would have a negative opinion of the former district attorney if he voluntarily walked away. On one message board, the suggestion that Mr. Gricar walked away is occasionally called the “cad zone.”1 A few, but nowhere near a majority, of the commentators have expressed the same thought.
After the photographs of a putative Mr. Gricar in Texas appeared, a blogger named Patfish wrote that, “…I must wonder what on earth would possess a man who has been called caring and loving by those closest to him to do such a dirty trick,” and “…a selfish individual who chose the cheap and cheesy way out.”2 Those photos were later determined, by the FBI, not to have been of Mr. Gricar.
Never miss a local story.
When the story of Mr. Gricar’s computer searches came out, one commentator on the story, amb40, wrote, : “IF...and this is a big IF...the man 'walked away'…then he is the biggest criminal Centre County has ever seen and should be arrested for wasting tax payer money on the investigation, defrauding the county by accepting a salary while he was not performing his job and any benefits that his family received - including his salary should be seized.3” Abm40 may not have realized that Mr. Gricar’s salary was frozen within a fortnight of his disappearance and is sitting in the coffers of Centre County at the present time; his pension is also unclaimed.
Last year, a commenter on this blog, johngibson, wrote: “I am curious how Gricar could have walked away without being cold-blooded. He turned his back on his daughter and everyone else who cared about him, … .“4 I’m hoping this blog will explain it.
So, if Mr. Gricar walked away, he’s in the “cad zone.” He is “coldblooded,” “a selfish individual who chose the cheap and cheesy way out,” and “the biggest criminal Centre County has ever seen,” if, “and this is a big IF,” he walked away, according to these people. I don’t agree, and I’d like to spend the rest of blog looking at this.
First is the “criminal” aspect. It violates no law that I’m aware of to just up and leave. Mr., Gricar wasn’t facing any criminal prosecution, like former Cambria County Judge Joseph O’Kicki, or Michelle McMullen.5
Did Mr. Gricar try to mislead the police, if he really did walk away? If Mr. Gricar wanted to make his disappearance look like suicide, he could have done numerous things to leave that impression. He could have left a note. He could have some family photos, perhaps even of his brother, and left them on the seat of the Mini, as though he was doing one last reminiscence. He could have left the Mini Cooper parked where it was first seen, about a hundred yards from the river, on the aptly named Water Street.
Had he wanted to make his disappearance look like murder, he could have done that too. He could have parked the Mini is a less central place where a lack of witnesses could be explained. He could have left his wallet, emptied of cash, and maybe credit cards, tossed on the floor. He could have broken his nonprescription sunglasses and left them in the car. He could have dialed 911 and then hung up, or smashed his cell phone or dropped it in the river. He could have cut his finger and left a smear of blood on the car, or drop some on the floor.
If Mr. Gricar walked away, he didn’t try to make it look like suicide or murder. He didn’t even mislead the police; nothing that Mr. Gricar may have done made is disappearance look like foul play. “Wasting tax payer money” is not a crime, though it may be a Congress.
Now, if he waked away, did Mr. Gricar find a “cheap and cheesy way out?” Not “cheap,” by any stretch of the imagination. He left no debt that we know of. He didn’t follow the stereotype, parodied on the Simpson with the father of the Nelson Muntz character, of the father that goes out for a pack of cigarettes and is never seen again. He wasn’t the custodial parent for his daughter for about a decade before he disappeared and his daughter was living 2,000 miles away on the day he disappeared. No matter what the explanation for Mr. Gricar’s disappearance, on 4/15/05, he had provided for his loved ones.
It was reported that Mr. Gricar had more than $100,000 in his accounts, jointly with his daughter, Lara. There isn’t anything unusual about the joint account; prior to my father’s illness, all of his accounts were in both our names. If something should happen to on the signatories, the other can instantly get access to the account. There also is a potential inheritance tax savings, since, for probate purposes, each signatory can claim a portion of the account; the surviving signatory would not claim a portion of the account as an inheritance. His pension is now unclaimed and she could receive it. Mr. Gricar did provide for his daughter.6 That isn’t “cheap” or “cheesy.”
Then there is Patty Fornicola, Mr. Gricar’s girlfriend and housemate on 4/15/05. Legally, she’d have no claim against Mr. Gricar; it doesn’t break any law to break up with your girlfriend and walk away from her. Mr. Gricar, however, did provide for her.6 The Mini Cooper, that Mr. Gricar drove almost exclusively, was in Ms. Fornicola’s name. Legally, it was hers, and had possibly more than a five digit value. Mr. Gricar, who owned no property, paid on Ms. Fornicola’s mortgage, basically increasing the value of her home. That isn’t “cheap” or “cheesy” either.
Now we come down to Mr. Gricar being “cold-blooded” and being in the “cad zone,” if he walked away without telling his daughter or girlfriend. Not telling would protect them. If Mr. Gricar, privately, to his daughter Lara, or Ms. Fornicola prior to leaving, either would be put in this situation of lying to the police. It would be doubtful that either would be able to pass a polygraph.
There is another problem. If Mr. Gricar had left a note behind, or even a letter of resignation, there would still be questions. People would be asking about his sanity, questioning his sexuality and sexual activities, questioning if he had been engaged in criminal activities, and questioning if he was forced at gun point to offer the resignation.7 You know, almost the same questions we have seen in on the Internet when the topic of Mr. Gricar comes up.
Many of the people that say if Mr. Gricar walked away are missing facts in this case. Patfish referred to a sighting that was determined not to be Mr. Gricar, and his assumed “cheap and cheesy” walkaway was anything but. Amb40’s concerns about paying the salary were groundless, as Mr. Gricar’s salary was frozen since in the spring of 2005; the money that is there, he earned. In terms of being “the biggest criminal Centre County has ever seen,” Mr. Gricar didn’t even give the impression that he was a crime victim; there is no crime in deciding to start over, even anonymously. Even johngibson’s comment about Mr. Gricar being “cold-blooded” doesn’t take into account that Mr. Gricar may not have wanted to put his girlfriend or daughter into a position of lying to the police or putting them into a public relations disaster of declining to take a polygraph.
None of this suggests that Mr. Gricar did walk away. If he did leave voluntarily, however, Mr. Gricar would not be a “cad,” “cold-blooded,” “a selfish individual who chose the cheap and cheesy way out,” or “the biggest criminal Centre County has ever seen.” Mr. Gricar would be a man who provided for his daughter and girlfriend, protected them, committed no crime, and had no financial obligations. He just didn’t tell them, or us, what he was doing, if he did, in fact, walk away.
If Mr. Gricar did walk away, and I agree that this remains a very big “IF,” he wasn’t a “cad.” He was a guy that started a new life, without leaving any dependents behind, providing for his adult daughter and girlfriend, leaving no known financial obligations behind, and not violating any law. He didn’t attempt to hoax anyone by making his disappearance look like a result of foul play or suicide.
I can’t, in all honesty, say that his possible choice would not have been mine, but, though I’m leading the life of Riley, I am not leading the life of Gricar.8 If he made this choice, I respect it; I just want to know that the disappearance was his choice, and not foul play. Even though I’ve been writing a blog about this case for more than two years, Mr. Gricar owes me nothing, not even an explanation.
1 http://tiny.cc/Cadzone In fairness to the poster, UndertheRadar, she was referring to the comment used by another poster.
3 http://tiny.cc/criminal518 (Comment no longer on-line)
4 http://tiny.cc/coldblooded (no longer on-line)
6 Note that this would be the same situation if Mr. Gricar committed suicide, a voluntary act. He did provide for his daughter and girlfriend. It is important to note that if Mr. Gricar’s disappearance was voluntary, he did provide for his loved ones.
7 Most of these things, completely without evidence, have been stated or implied on the Internet at some point.
8 In my case, disability would be a factor in not walking away. I’d have a problem getting across the state, not to mention getting across the county or across the planet. If I were healthy, that might be a different story.
E-mail J. J. in Phila at email@example.com