I’m noted for being skeptical on the cause for the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar. About a week ago, I was communicating with Montour County District Attorney Robert Buehner and I wrote, jokingly, that he’d never want me on a jury. He wrote back, “JJ: You would be the last person on this planet or any other part of the solar system that I would permit on a jury!!!! 1
Mr. Buehner was joking, and he has quite a good sense of humor, but he is right; I am very difficult to convince. I think I drove my predecessor here, Mr. Bosak, crazy with my skepticism on the question what happened to Mr. Gricar. I think now there is slightly more, largely circumstantial, evidence for the voluntary departure theory (and Mr. Buehner will disagree), but it is not overwhelming by a long shot. It also would be subject to change, based on new evidence; if you read these blogs carefully, I’d like people to look for evidence of voluntary departure, foul play, and suicide.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Today, I want to look at two other cases of missing persons, somewhat resolved, and you might see just why I am so skeptical. Both cases happened in south central Pennsylvania and/or northern Maryland. Unlike Mr. Gricar, both were young women.
Case #1: The first young woman’s name is Michelle. She was 27 and had a young son who she cared for, and by all accounts, loved dearly.2 Michelle came from a good family in Harrisburg; her mother was a minister. She worked while she took classes, first online, and that at Grambling University, in Louisiana; she wanted to obtain a business degree.2 Because of her financial struggles, she decided to bring her son home to be cared for by his father and her parents. She after a long drive back to Pennsylvania, she dropped of her son with a friend, to take to her parents and her son’s father3. She even called from the road on the way back to Grambling, but she never showed up.3 Her parents, concerned, called the police after waiting 72 hours. Her car was found abandoned near Hagerstown, MD, near a factory. There was no evidence of foul play.3
Well, what my first impression of Michelle? A hard working and dedicated woman who wanted to improve her, and her son’s, life. She was woman who was struggling to overcome adversity; I admire people like her. This is the kind of person I’d be pleased with if my son or brother brought home to meet the family. My first thoughts on the case were that Michelle was the victim of foul play.
Case #2: The second woman’s name is Angie. She was 17, from Waynesboro, PA, and her background was a bit different than Michelle’s. She had left home before; her family didn’t call the police for at least two weeks after she was last seen. There were problems, unspecified, regarding her family. She was thought to possibly have some involvement with drugs. One of her friends reported that she had plans to “go on the road” with a truck driver.4
What would have been my impression of Angie on reading this? Definitely not the kind of woman I’d want my son or brother to bring home to meet the family. She looks like someone, with weak ties to her family, who wanted to shake off the dust of Waynesboro and be on her own. At best she’s with a guy that’s taking care of her, maybe married, or working as a waitress in a diner somewhere. At worst, she overdosed.
Well, those were my first thoughts on both cases. Here is what really happened.
Case #1: The missing person’s name was Michelle McMullen; she disappeared in late September of 2008. It turned out, initially unknown to investigators, that there were criminal charges for theft filed against her from one of her former employers, a church (though not her mother’s church)2. A woman presumed to be Ms. McMullen was spotted working in a motel in Martinsburg, VA; she was working under a different name. Shortly before the police arrived, this woman got a call, and promptly left the motel, leaving behind printouts of web pages on how to get false identification. The missing person case has been closed, but Ms. McMullen is now a fugitive; the family, and it is a good family, still expresses doubt.5
Case #2: The missing person’s name was Angie Lynn Daley. She was last seen in late August of 1995.4 She may have wanted to shake of the dust of Waynesboro, but she never had a chance. Her skeletal remains found within five miles of Waynesboro earlier this month, in a wooded area along Route 16, a major highway.6 Ironically, the police discovered Ms. Daley’s remains while looking for a body of a recently murdered woman (which was quickly discovered). Ms. Daley’s cause of death wasn’t an overdose; the cause of death was homicide, due to “ blunt force trauma to her head.”6
I really am not sure which case is more analogous to the Gricar case. Is it that someone, even without a law enforcement background, could apparently disappear so easily and continue to remain at large? Is it that human remains could remain undiscovered in a relatively populated area for more than 14 ½ years? Do any of you still wonder why I’m so skeptical about the third case, the Gricar case?
I’m going to look at two pieces of evidence in a future blog, one that points to voluntary departure and one that points to foul play or suicide, on the surface; I’ve looked at both before, but there may be an alternate, and skeptical, explanation for both.
1 Used with his permission. We were discussing these cases.
2 ABC, 10/10/08, http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=6005233&page=1
3 ABC, 10/10/08, http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=6005233&page=2
6 WHTM, 4/8/10, http://www.whtm.com/news/stories/0410/723626.html
E-mail J. J. in Phila at email@example.com