I should say a few things about the cell phone records of missing person Ray Gricar. First, the police checked it early on. They had determined, on April 16, 2005, that there was an outgoing call from the Brush Valley area on April 15, 2005. Yes, the oft criticized (on line at least) Bellefonte Police Department did a very professional job with that and had the information within twenty-four hours of Mr. Gricar being reported missing.
Second, I do not advocate releasing the raw record. The record should be redacted to protect the privacy of all concerned. Lara Gricar, who called her father on April 14, 2005, should not have her private number splattered across the front page of CDT or the Internet. That call could be listed as, “Call from Lara Gricar’s home phone” or “Call from Lara Gricar’s cell phone, called by cell tower located in Seattle, WA.”
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Third, obviously there will be some calls for which there are no records. For example, local calls would not produce a record. Even long distance calls to the office went through the main Courthouse at the time. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to tell if a long distance call placed to the Courthouse was directed to the District Attorney’s Office or to the Prothonotary’s Office.
The information could be redacted in this manner. We know that Lara Gricar called her father on April 14, 2005. Let’s assume, as an example, she called his cell phone, from her land line, at 11:45 AM (Eastern Time) and that he was just north of Huntingdon, on his way to Lake Raystown; she just called to say that she loved him, so the call lasted less than a minute. The record would look like this:
“4/16/05, 11:45:00 AM: Call from (206) 123-4567 to (814) 098-7654, carried by cell tower 123 [located one mile north of Huntingdon, PA]. Call ended at 11:45:55.”
Redacted, this would read:
““4/14/05, 11:45:00 AM: Call from Lara Gricar’s home phone to Mr. Gricar’s cell phone, carried by cell tower 123 [located one mile north of Huntingdon, PA]. Call ended at 11:45:55.”
This would tell us a lot, specifically where Mr. Gricar was at 11:45 AM on 4/14/05. It would also help corroborate Ms. Gricar’s claim that it was just a routine call; a call that last for fifty-five seconds is likely to be a short call just to tell him that she loves here. A longer call might raise suspicions. A similar scenario could be constructed with the call to Patty Fornicola, the one about the dog.
In regard to Ms. Fornicola, she made a series of calls to Mr. Gricar’s cell phone on the evening of 4/15/05. Those records would confirm where she was that evening.
Other than, presumably, supporting Ms. Gricar’s and Ms. Fornicola’s version of events this record could serve as “electronic breadcrumbs” for Mr. Gricar’s movements on 4/14/05 and 4/15/05. Likewise a pattern could emerge, or their could be call to or from someone who served as a helper or to or from someone who murdered Mr. Gricar.
Knowing that Mr. Gricar was in a certain area at a certain time might help jog a witnesses memory. All of these things could help connect the dots in the picture of what happened to Mr. Gricar. This one is more of a long shot, but it still might help.