Special Reports

A Note on Saturday Witnesses

Since I’m about to post links to the evidence, and since it is a Saturday, I thought I’d post this and explain my methodology a bit.  I’m a bit surprised no one caught this. 

In James Renner’s article on the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar, Mr. Renner quoted Detective Darrel Zaccagni as saying the following abiut the Lewisburg witnesses on 4/16/05:

“We can definitely put him there on Saturday, too. There’s a museum right here, across from the park. I think it’s called Cottingwood House. The employees there watched Ray bring his car and park it two or three different times across the street. He came and left, came and left, came back. He got out of his car, sat on a bench. He was reading a newspaper or something. But by noon Saturday, he just seems to have fallen off the earth.”   http://tiny.cc/Zaccagni

            You might wonder why I have not added these multiple witnesses to my list or mention.  No, I didn’t list them and their omission was on purpose.

            This was the only story where I heard about these witnesses, though other Saturday witnesses at the Street of Shops were discussed in detail in the press.  Detective Zaccagni was known for making “mistakements.”  He, incorrectly stated that Mr. Gricar’s prints were found in the Mini Cooper, a statement since corrected by the Bellefonte Police Department.  He didn’t mention the other reported Saturday witnesses, Mr. Bennett and two employees at the Street of Shops, and this account is quite close to those to the Friday witnesses.

            I consider it possible that Detective Zaccagni misspoke and was referring to the Friday witnesses.  He apparently did not check the file before making the statement; the museum is called the Packwood House, for example, not the “Cottingwood House” as he stated.  I even went so far as to e-mail Mr. Renner before compiling the witness list; Mr. Renner thought that it was possible that Detective Zaccagni had confused the day that the witnesses saw Mr. Gricar.  Unless confirmed, I’m treating it as misstatement by Detective Zaccagni. 

            Detective Zaccagni was known to get things confused, and not to check the file prior to talking to the press (he would have gotten the name of the museum correct in this case); Mr. Bosak noted the care Detective Mathew Rickard, the investigator currently assigned to the case, took in checking the file before answering the question.  While I’m sure that Mr. Renner had the quote correctly reported, I’m far from sure that Detective Zaccagni did not confuse the Friday witnesses with the Saturday witnesses.  I’m being very conservative on the witnesses.

Conversely, if Detective Zaccagni was accurate, this would change my opinion of the 4/16/05 witnesses.  I have said that it was probable that Mr. Gricar was in Lewisburg midday on 4/16/05, but I could not claim it was beyond a reasonable doubt. My Take on the Witnesses  If several more witnesses, apart from the Street of Shops, could put Mr. Gricar in or by the Mini on Saturday, 4/16/05, it would take that well beyond the reasonable doubt threshold.  As I said, I am being very skeptical and very conservative in regard to this statement.

            In fairness to the now retired Detective Zaccagni, and as someone who compiled a list of witnesses in this case, I can see how easy it is to confuse the days in this case, even looking at the file.