[This is the tenth part of a series on the investigation into the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar.]
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On May 13, 2006 it is fair to say the investigation into the disappearance of former Centre County District Ray Gricar was turned upside down. Probably since the first week of the investigation, there was nothing so earth shattering. There has been nothing so earth shattering since. The crime reporter for the Centre Daily Times (and my predecessor on this blog), Pete Bosak, had his investigative reporting article, “Missed Leads,” published.1 If the new emphasis on the “Mystery Woman” during the prior week created a “media firestorm,” 2 the article “Missed Leads” created a media hurricane that felt well beyond the confines of Centre County.
“Missed Leads”1 included these pieces of previously unreported evidence:
A. The Fenton sighting.
B. Mr. Gricar’s uncharacteristic behavior a month before he disappeared3.
C. The profiler concluding that Mr. Gricar had committed suicide (this might have appeared in the Q and A Forum).
D. A rough estimate of the amount of money Mr. Gricar had.
E. That Mr. Gricar had claimed he was putting the Mini Cooper in Ms. Fornicola’s name in case he was sued (likewise, that might have been in the Q and A Forum).
F. That Det. Zaccagni had never interviewed Mr. Gricar’s friend Ed Walker. There is a question if the staff of the District Attorney’s Office was interviewed by anyone other than the profiler.
G. That the police were not monitoring Mr. Gricar’s accounts. This was left to his daughter, who declined to speak to the press about the issue.
Montour County District Attorney Buehner said, "I think this case is larger than the Bellefonte Police Department's capacity to investigate every lead that is out there. They have worked it as hard as they can. But this case needs a statewide task force led by a veteran prosecutor." Family spokesman Tony Gricar said, "At this point, given the revelations, another set of eyes can do a lot of good.” He also concluded, "If there are lapses in the investigation, things need to be tightened up and we need to find whoever can complete this investigation. I just hope there haven't been other lapses."
A day later, 5/14/06, the hurricane intensified. Tony Gricar said there had been a “colossal collapse in judgment,” in the investigation. He noted that Ms. Fenton was, “as credible a witness as we've had all along,” and “The single most-credible witness was discredited because of timeline issues when police didn't even have a credible timeline." Mr. Buehner and Clinton County District Attorney McKnight again called for turning the case over to the Attorney General’s Office.4
Chief Weaver wanted the Bellefonte Police to continue holding the case, saying, "We will remain steadfast in this investigation, and we will see it through."4
Mr. Madeira did not speak that day. The next day, 5/15/06 two days after the story broke, he did weigh in. When he did, Mr. Madeira did not make any suggestion on anything new that should be done in the investigation; he said that he was satisfied with the investigation (possibly a strange comment in itself). He said that he’d like to meet with Tony Gricar, who would be in town during the week, in order to “correct the record on why police stopped going after certain leads or other information ... so he can feel more comfortable.” He actually wanted to attempt to justify why the police were not following leads!5
The Dateline story ran on 5/13/066. It should be noted that the Dateline piece had none of the new information from “Missed Leads.” Various media planned stories on the Gricar case; more were in the works7. It was about this time that Mr. Madeira realized that some of those unturned stones were being blown through the glass house he had built around the Gricar investigation, by the growing media hurricane. On 5/16/06 Mr. Madeira announced that he would ask the Criminal Investigative Analysis Unit of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP-CIA Unit) to review the case.8 The hurricane force winds faded.
For about 72 hours, however, the hurricane that the Gricar investigation became raged in Centre County. “Missed Leads” made a difference in the public case. Probably more information about Mr. Gricar, and about the investigation, was released in a brief point in time because of Mr. Bosak’s story. We still do not know entirely what was gained as a result of this story. The PSP-CIA review did find some things, but what they found is still being obscured from public view.
Several things were lost. One was the trust of the public in the thoroughness of the investigation, to that point; the more public support of Mr. Gricar’s nephew for the investigation vanished. Another thing lost was the thought that it would be the belief that it was impossible for Mr. Gricar to have left voluntarily; the article put the walkaway scenario front and center, especially with Ms. Fenton’s report of seeing Mr. Gricar in a different car, in Bellefonte, at 3:00 PM on 4/15/05.
This marks the second pattern seen in the Gricar case. When there is negative press, do something. This, along with putting out information previously disclosed, or close to what was previously disclosed, is a pattern that will be repeated. We will see it again.
[Part 11, The PSP-CIA Review, is next]
1 CDT , 5/13/06 http://www.centredaily.com/news/ray_gricar/story/3802.html
2 CDT 5/10/06 http://porchlightinternationalformissinguid.com/
3 Mr. Gricar’s unusual behavior was also noted by Mr. Joseph of the CDT and, closer to the time of the disappearance, by Ms. Arnold in her LGJ.
4 CDT 5/16/06 http://porchlightinternationalformissinguid.com/
5 CDT 5/15/06 http://tiny.cc/justify
7 CDT 5/19/06, for the actual announcement: http://tiny.cc/Media372
8 CDT 5/17/06 http://porchlightinternationalformissinguid.com/