Special Reports

Lessons Remembered

Last month, I wrote an entry comparing the investigation of the disappearance of Ray Gricar with the investigation of the murder of Dana Bailey.  Lesson Learned, Then Unlearned  I noted some of the mistakes that the State College Police and, yes, then District Attorney Ray Gricar made in that investigation.  One was the failure to release the information.  I also noted, over the years, how the State College Police revealed the information.  I also noted how Mr. Gricar never repeated his mistakes in that case.

            When I compared it to the conduct of the Bellefonte Police in the Gricar investigation, I noted how they avoided these mistakes in the first several months of the case.  I’ll get in trouble with some members of the “chattering class” for saying this, but the initial police work, especially that of the Bellefonte Police Department, was both excellent and amazing.  You only have to look at the first several blog entries under Index of the Investigation, December 2009 to see that.  Compare this with the Bailey case or the Song disappearance, and you will quickly see how well the Bellefonte Police Department did.

Then I noted how the mistakes began to be repeated soon after then District Attorney Michael T. Madeira took office.  I wrote, “The curtain came down on the Gricar case when his successor pronounced that there was ‘no stone left unturned.’”1 

            Then I said something else, “The curtain might be rising again.”  Indeed, it may be rising.  The current District Attorney, Stacy Parks Miller, has announced the formation of a “review board” to look at the evidence, and possibly develop new leads.2  First, she kept her word to “tear through the files.”  Second, he is not sitting back and waiting for something.  These are excellent first steps.  I will, whatever the result, applaud her for trying, at least.  I will be ecstatic if she succeeds.

            Even if she doesn’t there is still something that she can do.  In a recent series, “Roads Not Taken,” I listed a number of actions that the police could take.  While I will be updating it, I have a number of entries covered in the index for “What More Can Be Done.”  One, an excellent one, is from a guest blogger, and former police officer, Slamdunk.  One problem I’ve had with that is that it has never been stated what the police have checked.  I’d love to hear what the police checked, and found to be a dead end.  Ms. Parks Miller in a position to tell what did not happen to Mr. Gricar, what has been ruled out.

            At some point, the police and the District Attorney’s Office might be able to release some more information, even if they don’t have a solution.  That might be enough for someone else to connect the dots and find an important lead.  It might be enough to jog someone’s memory, and provide the solution.  That will take time, and law enforcement must obviously be careful and vet all information.  Releasing too much can jeopardize the investigation, but more can be released.

            I’ve suggested a lot of things in the course of blogging, but I’ll be the first to admit that some of what I’ve suggested will only produce a dead end.  I wouldn’t mind proven wrong again and again, just to know that law enforcement checked and ruled those things out.  I won’t mind if Ms. Parks Miller stood up and said, “We looked at everything that strange J. J. person in Philadelphia talked about, and he was wrong about everything.”  On one level, I’d be disappointed, but on another level, I’d be happy that a number of possible explanations for the disappearance of Mr. Gricar were ruled out.

            I have the sense that the curtain covering the Gricar investigation is being lifted.  I have more optimism that the case will be solved today than at any point in the last three and a half years.  Ms. Parks Miller has provided leadership in the investigation; I applaud her for this, as we all should.  I hope she can, without jeopardizing the investigation, also provide public discloser, if not a public solution.  That would be relearning of the lessons of the Bailey case.

End Notes

1 CDT, 1/11/06, http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-12305573_ITM

2 CDT, 3/31/10, http://www.centredaily.com/2010/03/31/1887034/review-board-formed-to-examine.html


E-mail J. J. in Phila at scorg@live.com