Special Reports

Murder II: A Short Walk to Death

This is the fourth (and probably the last) in series of blogs discussing the possibilities about what happened to Ray Gricar, the then Centre County District Attorney who vanished.  These are possibilities, not facts and not advocacies or any theory.  I want to mesh each theory with the publicly known evidence. 

This entry is based on this premise:  Mr. Gricar met a friend, possibly a lover, and left for what was intended to be a rendezvous for a few days.  During this time something happened resulting in Mr. Gricar’s death.

Basically, Mr. Gricar just planned to go away for a few days, incommunicado, with this friend.  It wasn’t completely unknown for Mr. Gricar to get away, as with the trip to the Cleveland Indians game; this would be longer, but possibly not by much.  He intended to come back.  One of his friends, Montour County District Attorney Robert W. Buehner, raised the issue that Mr. Gricar might have been staying at a motel with a woman.  http://www.centredaily.com/news/local/story/691532.html

Mr. Gricar was planning for this trip for a few weeks.  He increased his workload and became anxious about the trip.                     

A Change in Demeanor and Activity   He’d planned it be a very long weekend, leaving on a Friday.  Friday, Thank God It’s Friday  Obviously, if leaving with a lover, he wouldn’t be seen in an area with the lover.  He drove outside of the Central Pennsylvania Media Market to meet his friend. The Media Markets and Geography   Conversely, if the friend was from out of town and Lewisburg was a good meeting point.  The call would put Ms. Fornicola at ease, basically calling as he leaving.

A Call About the Dog If he needed an excuse, he could simply say that he spent the weekend in Lewisburg.  Based on his experience with the Cleveland trip, nobody would call the police.

Mr. Gricar arrived a bit early because he wanted to destroy the drive of the laptop.  The Data and Erasing It  He disposed of it (see, this keeps coming up), and driving around the Lewisburg area, and being seen by the various witnesses.  He was going to be in Lewisburg anyhow, so he decided to get rid of it before leaving.

Sometime before 6:00 PM the friend showed up, and was seen.  This might be the “mystery woman.”  They might have left the area, but they were there in the evening on 4/16/05, when Mr. Gricar was seen by the witnesses.  The Lewisburg Witnesses, April 16, 2005

Mr. Gricar kept his keys, as he was planning to return to the car; he’d be out in the sun, so the sunglasses were kept.                            What Else is Missing?  They left in the friend’s car, explaining the scent.  The friend was a smoker, leaving the trace ash and scent in the car.   The Physical Evidence

They continued together through the weekend, not catching the Sunday news, and went to Wilkes-Barre.                                           Wilkes-Barre, Monday, April 18, 2005  One key point is that the press conference with Lara Gricar and Patty Fornicola didn’t occur until around noon on 4/18/05.  I am unaware if it was covered on the noon news in Wilkes-Barre.

Sometime on 4/18/05, possibly on the 11:00 PM news, Mr. Gricar saw the press conference and decided to return to his daughter; he did not anticipate her returning to Pennsylvania.  It produced an argument with the friend, one that became heated.  Something happened.

What is questionable is what happened.  It might have been a crime of passion.  It might have been an accident.  Mr. Gricar might have been shocked and had a coronary.  Whatever happened, the friend panicked and hid the body.

           Mr. Gricar obviously couldn’t be collecting his pension if he were dead.  The Pension

One point may or may not point to this, putting the Mini Cooper in Ms Fornicola’s name. Liability and the Mini Cooper  I had a suggestion from a correspondent that Mr. Gricar might have been having a longer term relationship and put it Ms. Fornicola’s name out of guilt.  I’ll call this inconclusive.

Some pieces of evidence would be coincidental, the similarities to 20/20 Vision, 20/20 Hindsight , and his financial situation,                Income and Assets , and the interest in the Wiley case                       Wiley and Gricar, the Timing .

One point argues against this premise, the Fenton sighting.

Behind the Courthouse It really doesn’t make sense from Mr. Gricar to return in another car, after meeting his friend in Lewisburg.

There is another factor; none of his clothes seem to be missing.  Some things, like underwear or toiletries, could be purchased on the road, but a suit is not generally something that can be picked up in the course of a few days.

The evidence for this short walk to death scenario is :

*  A friend thinks it’s possible that Mr. Gricar might have been with this “friend.”

*  Mr. Gricar’s increase of workload is consistent with taking a few days off.

*  He left going into a weekend.

*  He went to an area where he wouldn’t be recognized.

*  The call could have provided an excuse for where Mr. Gricar was during this time.

*  Mr. Gricar expressed an interest in eliminating the data on the drive.

*  Mr. Gricar would keep the keys wallet and sunglasses if he was planning to come back.

*  The physical evidence supports Mr. Gricar getting into another car and a smoker being present.

*  The premise is consistent with the 4/15/05 Lewisburg witnesses.

*  The premise is consistent with the 4/16/05 Lewisburg witnesses.

*  The premise is consistent with the Wilkes-Barre witnesses.

*  Mr. Gricar, if dead, could not claim his pension.

One piece which is inconclusive is putting the Mini Cooper in Ms. Fornicola’s name.

The evidence against this short walk to death scenario is :

*  The Fenton sighting.

*  There is no evidence of Mr. Gricar making preparations, i.e. packing, for a short trip .

Twelve pieces of information point to this short stroll to death, two refute it, one is inconclusive, and three pieces are coincidental.  Not the strongest, but still very strong.  It is too strong to be ignored. 

Interestingly, this scenario has generally not been discussed.  It has run through the minds at least of some people that knew Mr. Gricar prior to 4/15/05. 

I’ll give you a summary of these scenarios and some commentary on them next.