Almost three years ago, I posted several blogs, admittedly speculative, looking possible explanations for the disappearance of Ray Gricar. Two of them dealt with the possibility that the former Centre County District Attorney was murdered.1 Today, I want to revisit one of them, based on some new evidence, and the ruling out of old evidence.
As I wrote when I first posted this, this entry does advocate any theory for the disappearance. I want to mesh each theory with the publicly known evidence.
This entry is based on this premise: On 4/15/05, Mr. Gricar was lured to Lewisburg and murdered.
A few weeks ago, I noted how one of the witnesses in the Sandusky case met with investigators in an out of the way parking lot.2 He did not want to be seen talking with investigators. It is fairly easy to understand, that someone could have used this as an excuse. There could have some underlying truth, and it was a meeting that went wrong. The meeting could have been something about the Sandusky case, or some under still unknown scandal at Penn State. It could be something involving Rockview, or something involving the county or any large institution. It would be someone who, at least plausibly, would not want to be seen in the District Attorney’s Office. The idea that there could have been a clandestine meeting becomes plausible.
Never miss a local story.
We know that, despite Mr. Gricar’s familiarity with Lewisburg, he generated a map to the area.3 That would be consistent with checking the time for the trip, either for himself or for another person. There is a strong indication that he wanted to be in Lewisburg at a specific time because the call to his girlfriend, Patty Fornicola, seems to have placed near Centre Hall.4 Choosing an area outside Central Pennsylvania Media Market would help make sure that Mr. Gricar would not be recognized.5 Both of those things are at least consistent with a clandestine meeting.
We also know that Mr. Gricar had a longstanding interest eliminating the data on his computer.5 That might not be related directly to his disappearance. He may have thought that, since he was going to be in an area far from home, with a river, that this would be an ideal place to toss the drive. If a murderer thought that there was some evidence that link that murderer to Mr. Gricar, he may have tossed it, without realizing the drive was gone.
In Lewisburg, the killer could have persuaded, or forced, Mr. Gricar into another vehicle, leaving the scent trail found in the parking lot.6 The other things missing, e.g. Mr. Gricar’s keys and wallet, might simply have been in his pockets when his body went to its final resting place.7 If this was a planned killing, and not a meeting gone wrong, choosing a Friday afternoon would ensure that the story would not get immediate coverage.8
Even the change in demeanor noted in Mr. Gricar by coworkers could be explained. It the story given to him was regarding a major scandal, it might have preoccupied him.9 Admittedly, that is a reach and it would not have accounted for the change in his work volume. There is also the phone call to Ms. Fornicola, which had the effect of causing the police to search about 40 miles west from where the phone was located. Why wouldn’t Mr. Gricar leave it on and not be worried in the least about if it could be electronically tracked to Lewisburg.10
And there are many things that don’t fit. Mr. Gricar was seen on the morning of by several witnesses in Lewisburg 4/16/05.11 There is also the Fenton sighting of Mr. Gricar, in a different car, behind the Courthouse at 3:00 PM on 4/15/05.12 The Southfield sighting of 5/27/05, if accurate, would rule this scenario out entirely.13 They all could be wrong and I’d only give a 50% that they were all correct and that any of these sightings were actually of Mr. Gricar. One very solid sighting, in Wilkes-Barrie, was ruled out by the police.14
There is also the question of total secrecy. We know that in the Sandusky case, at least one other staff member knew that there was something going on in 1998. More may, in what could have been one a case that generated both notoriety and was politically sensitive, have had some idea that something was going on involving Mr. Sandusky. There was none of that around 4/15/05, with any known case.
There are also some that would have to be coincidental. The evidence that would be coincidental to this set of circumstances would be, Mr. Gricar’s interest in the Wiley case,14 the titling of the Mini Cooper in Ms. Fornicola’s name,15 the similarity to the novel 20/20 Vision,16 and Mr. Gricar’s finances.17 The phone call to Ms. Fornicola could be another coincidence. That is a lot of coincidences.
The evidence for this meeting for murder scenario :
* There is a reasonably good chance that Mr. Gricar might be involved in a clandestine meeting that would be work related.
* Meeting in a different media market would decrease the chance of either party being recognized.
* Committing the crime on Friday would limit initial coverage.
* The scent detected by the dog supports the premise.
* A report used to lure Mr. Gricar could have caused his change in demeanor.
* He generated a map to the area, even though he was familiar with it.
* He seemed to have wanted to be in Lewisburg by a certain time.
The evidence against this meeting for murder scenario :
* It would not explain his increased work activity.
* The 4/16/05 witnesses are not consistent with the theory of a meeting.
* The Southfield sighting would rule this out entirely.
* It really does not explain why the cell phone was never turned on in Lewisburg
* There is no evidence of a clandestine meeting was scheduled and no vague knowledge on the part of staff that there was a potentially “hot case” that might be coming up.
Several pieces of evidence would have to be written off as coincidence.
* The phone call placed about 40 miles from where the meeting was to be.
* Mr. Gricar’s interest in the Wiley case
* The titling of the Mini Cooper
* Mr. Gricar’s financial situation.
* Mr. Gricar’s interest in not wanting what was on the laptop to ever see the light of day.
So, there are seven pieces of evidence supporting this particular scenario. Six pieces argue against it. Five pieces would have to be coincidental.
This scenario is a bit stronger than when I first posted it on the Internet in 2006. A key argument against it, the Wilkes-Barre sighting, is gone. There is stronger evidence that Mr. Gricar wanted to be in Lewisburg at a specific time and wanted to check the time it would take for someone to drive there. While that could indicate meeting someone for a case, it could just as easily point to a meeting of a more personal nature, or to Mr. Gricar scheduling connections for his voluntary departure.
This evidence does not conclusively point to Mr. Gricar going to a clandestine meeting, where he ended up murdered. It does, however, indicate that it is possible, and one of several possibilities. It is perhaps the most troubling possibility, and part of the reason I still write about this case.
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