There is a term that I have used on the Internet when discussing the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar; that term is the “Inner Circle.” No, it is not a mysterious cabal that has occasionally come up from various conspiracy theories that come up about the case (One surfaced briefly that included more than ten people, including the Bellefonte Police, members of District Attorney’s Office Staff, the Pennsylvania State Police, two Centre Daily Times reporters, of WJAC and WTAJ and me.). The Inner Circle is merely the group of people that were close to Mr. Gricar, often with a decade or longer association with him, both personally and geographically.
There are several good reasons to look at this Inner Circle. In the event that Mr. Gricar walked away, one of the members of this Inner Circle might have helped him acquire a car to drive away from Lewisburg, a straw purchase or straw rental; that person would be the “helper,” helping Mr. Gricar depart. In the case of murder, it would be possible, at least in theory, for one of them to be the murderer. Perhaps with a greater probability, it is possible that some of them might have a good idea who he could have had some type of secret meeting with in Lewisburg. Looking at this Inner Circle is useful in this case, if Mr. Gricar either walked away or if he was murdered. It ultimately could lead to proving or disproving one of those possibilities.
Okay, who is in this Inner Circle? A better question is what are the qualities of someone to make them eligible to be in this Inner Circle? Hopefully Mr. Gricar would have heeded the advice of just about every parent gives to their three year old, “Don’t get into a car with a stranger.” If this was walkaway, Mr. Gricar would likely be carrying cash and possibly be the target of a robbery by someone picking him up. The first quality of someone in the Inner Circle is that they would have to be trustworthy.
A rather sizable reward was offered for information in the case was offered; Mr. Gricar could have anticipated this. There was also the emotionally wrenching press conference with Lara Gricar crying. If this was walkaway, the helper would have to look at that and thought, “I’m sorry for your suffering, but my loyalty is to Ray.” The second quality pf someone in the Inner Circle is loyalty.
The third characteristic of the people in the Inner Circle is location. Certainly, if someone, a helper, delivered a car to Mr. Gricar they would have to get back to where ever they lived. If it was a distance, there would be large gap in the time line of that person. Consider Mr. Gricar’s nearest blood relative, geographically, his nephew Chris Gricar. At the time, he lived in the Columbus, Ohio area (he still may). For him to be the helper, he’d need to drive six hours to Lewisburg and six hours to get home. While he may be very loyal to his uncle, and very trustworthy, he wasn’t close enough to have met his uncle in Lewisburg, at least without leaving a gaping hole in his timeline; he’s off the list. Someone in the Inner Circle would have to have proximity to Lewisburg.
So, for someone to be in this Inner Circle, he or she would have these three characteristics: Trustworthiness, Loyalty to Mr. Gricar, and Proximity to Lewisburg. That isn’t a lot of people, but who would it include?
1. Those people that were close to Mr. Gricar, apart from work. On this list would be his girlfriend and house mate, Patty Fornicola, and his close friends Steve Sloane and Ed Walker; Ms. Fornicola and Mr. Sloane, of course, are also “work friends.” There may be a fourth person, Amos Goodall, the Gricar family attorney. He had known Mr. Gricar for about twenty years, and, ironically, was Mr. Gricar’s opponent when he ran the first time for District Attorney in 1985. It obviously was not a hostile relationship, as Mr. Goodall represents the family.
2. Mr. Gricar’s two ex-wives and his former girlfriends (or any current ones that have not been disclosed). We know of two former girlfriends mentioned, the “nurse” and the “Harrisburg woman,” though they have not been named. Ms. Arnold noted something about this (though she was unaware any romantic relationship):
Ray's absence at that point was to my perception clearly being theorized to be volitional and likely in the company of an individual personally known to me to have had a long-standing friendship and admiration for him, and to be a smoker .
Mr. Bosak noted that the claim that one former girlfriend’s time line had not been checked, despite initial reports that she had.
3. The staff of the District Attorney’s Office as of 4/15/05; this would also include recent retirees. Mr. Gricar had long term professional relationships with many of staff, for more than a decade. That can generate loyalty.
In the first group, there are four people; in the third (excluding those also in the first group), about fifteen. In the second group, there are at least four individuals, though Mr. Gricar’s second ex-wife had stated that she didn’t remain in contact with him. Depending on how “active” in that area Mr. Gricar was, there could be more; I’ve guessed that the number probably not exceed thirty and may be less.
In terms of a “helper,” I’ve noticed that a lot of people on this list are attorneys. If Mr. Gricar even paid them a nominal amount, they possibly could have a professional obligation not to inform the police or decline to answer questions without a court order. Likewise, in my professional life, I have said, even to the police, “I won’t answer your questions without subpoena.1” A helper may not be a legally obligated to volunteer what they know and may simply decline to cooperate; they would obviously not be concealing a crime, as there was no actual crime, in that case.
Anyone in this group might have been a “helper,” though most were not. Likewise, someone in this group might, even unknowingly, have information that would lead to identifying a killer. Likewise, none of them may have anything useful. With the exception of Ms. Fornicola, from what has been reported, at least initially, they have not been checked.
1 I have indicated to the police, and others, that I’ll be willing to discuss any information about my whereabouts on 4/14-18/05 with the police, upon their request. I even sent Mr. Bosak, and others, a list of my Internet postings for 4/14-4/16/05. I have never had a direct request to do so, however, even from Mr. Bosak.
[Note: Please do not use the names of anyone not publicly identified. I will not approve a post including those.]