Special Reports

Releasing the Computer Searches

A few years ago, I saw a popup add on my computer.  It warned about the government doing computer searches for possibly criminal material and offered a free search program to check.  I didn’t think I download anything nefarious, but the word “free” appealed to me and I tried it.  I don’t download porn but I am cheap. 

            Well, there was one surprise.  The word “dick” showed up.  Humm, it would all make sense now.  I’m not married; I like Donna Summer.  I once owned a “Village People” album.  That explains it.  But wait, I’m not gay, not that there is anything wrong with it (for you Seinfeld fans out there).   Why would I be looking up the word “dick?”

Then I realized that while I am straight, I am also a science fiction fan.  The day before, I was searching for information on “Phillip K. Dick,” a well known science fiction author.  He wrote the novels that were the basis the movies Blade Runner and Minority Report.  That explains it; I’m not gay, not that there is anything wrong with it, but I am a geek (and I like classic disco).  Being a geek might explain why I’m not married; being exceedingly cheap might also explain my marital status.

 In researching the disappearance of Ray Gricar, I did Google the Union County District Attorney, the Honorable D. Peter Johnson.  No doubt, this would also trigger that same search program, as both “peter” and “johnson” are slang terms synonymous with “dick.”  Knowing that did the searches very close to when I was discussing, on-line, the role of Union County in the Gricar investigation, makes this much less suspicious.  The context is important as is the timing.

That is perhaps a very good example of one of the problems with releasing the information.  Assume that Mr. Gricar wanted to research a case that Mr. Johnson had argued.  He easily could have searched the name “Peter Johnson.”  Suddenly, we all could be making the same stupid stereotypical assessments that I made in jest.  That is one problem with releasing the information.

There are, however, more potential benefits to releasing the information.  He might have looking at some product that was not available in Centre County, but was available in Lewisburg; this could explain the reason for his trip.  One theory (of many theories) is that someone lured Mr. Gricar with a false report of public corruption.  He might have done a search on the subject; that could be a vital clue.  He could have been looking a place for a rendezvous with a friend or lover.  He could have reading sites on how to disappear (I’ve seen a few), or looking at cases of voluntary departure.  He could have looking at sites regarding depression or other health related issues. 

Let’s pick one, looking at sites for a rendezvous.  Mr. Gricar might have gone to the site, but no one associated the site with him.  This could jar someone else’s memory.  Maybe someone else could make a connection just looking at the searches, in another example of connecting the dots.

The context is also fairly limited.  Mr. Gricar purchased the computer, the desktop at home, in late December 2004 to early January 2005; it was taken by the police on April 17, 2005.  The searches would be limited to that narrow window.  To give an example, I’ve looked at most of things that I’ve listed above, in regard to the Mr. Gricar’s disappearance, but I didn’t do that in the first four months of 2005.

In that regard, I’d like to hear some detail on how the police are sure Mr. Gricar did the searches.  I firmly believe that they could, and have come up with a few methods, but I’d still like to hear the police say how.  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe Detective Rickard when he says it was Mr. Gricar doing the searches.  The detective has a reputation for being precise, and honest.  To use a poker analogy, I don’t believe Detective Rickard is bluffing, but I still would like to see his cards.

The last information release was not really of knew information; it was discovered by the police in 2006, about two and a half years ago.  Mr. Gricar had also asked people about how to destroy the data more than a year before he disappeared; that was reported last summer.  It obviously did not damage the case.  More information can be released on the searches, and should be.