Special Reports

Jurisdiction, Timing, Coincidence

           Over the years the Internet, blogs, comments, and message boards have been abuzz with various theories and, often heated discussions of the disappearance of Ray Gricar.  One thing that has not really been discussed, collectively, is the confusion created by Mr. Gricar’s absence, at least in roughly the first month after 4/15/05.

            In a previous entry, I noted that two things came together to delay the dissemination of the news that Mr. Gricar was missing. Weekend Media   These two things were that the Mini Cooper was well outside of the Central Pennsylvania Media Market (CPMM) and that the disappearance occurred on a Friday.  The Media Markets and Geography , Friday, Thank God It’s Friday  Both of these factors came together to delay the discovery of Mr. Gricar’s last known location and of the Mini.  One, the media markets, was geographic in nature; it would take a while for the story to be widely reported in Lewisburg.  The other was of timing; because Mr. Gricar disappeared on a Friday, which limited the broadcasting of the story.

            Something very similar happened that created confusion in the early days of the investigation; it was similar in that regard because it had both a geographic and timing aspect.  In terms of geography, the evidence was spread out over three jurisdictions, with three separate district attorney’s offices involved, as well as three different police forces.  In terms of timing, the first month of the investigation occurred when there would, not matter what the election results, be no continuity in the Centre County District Attorney’s Office 1.  Politics 2005, Part 2 

Coincidence?  Assume for the sake of argument, it was no coincidence.

            Union County, the county Lewisburg is in, is the closest point to Bellefonte where there would be a major river forming a county boundary and that also outside the CPMM.  Had the person responsible for Mr. Gricar’s disappearance wanted to create this confusion Lewisburg is the easiest place to do it.

            The timing in relation to the primary is not.  Candidates have to file petitions to get on the ballot, but they can only do so over a certain period time.  That period ends about two and a half months before the primary.  The candidate has just less than two weeks after that to withdraw.  This year’s calendar is found here:  http://www.co.centre.pa.us/elections/dates.asp 

Extrapolating, this last day would be March 23, 2005.  That was only about three weeks prior to Mr. Gricar’s disappearance.  The person responsible for the disappearance could have been watching the race and decided to make Mr. Gricar disappear at a point where it would have guaranteed that there would be no obvious successor.  The timing, while not perfect, is near perfect. 

Who would have had this knowledge?  The knowledge of the river jurisdiction would point either to a criminal attorney or a police officer familiar with river jurisdiction issues; even the district attorneys meeting discussed what county would have jurisdiction over the river. 

As to the problem that there would be no long term continuity in the office, most people would not be aware of this.  In terms of the timing, it would take someone politically aware, if not active, to check the withdrawal dates.  There are a lot of those in Centre County.  The administrative aspects are different.  Most people would not see the continuity issue; it would only be someone with a good understanding of the administrative of the District Attorney’s Office.

If this was not coincidence, the person responsible had to be someone familiar enough with the law to understand the jurisdictional issues and someone familiar with how the office would function if Mr. Gricar wasn’t there? 

In a prior blog, cited above, I noted that that there was a good probability that the facts that Mr. Gricar disappeared on a day when media coverage would be delayed and that he disappeared outside the Central Pennsylvania Media Market were unlikely to be random.  So it would be likely that the person responsible for Mr. Gricar’s disappearance would have an understanding of how media works.

We now have four possible attributes to the person responsible:

1.  A person who understood what would have been covered by the local media in Lewisburg.

2.  A person who understood the media cycle.

3.  A person familiar with the jurisdictional issues.

4.  A person familiar with the administration of the district attorney’s office in the absence of Mr. Gricar.

So, who would have those characteristics?

            The first name on this very short list is Ray Gricar.  He’d been the District Attorney for nearly 20 years and understood the local media.  He would have seen his own coverage and know that for minimum coverage in the press, news should be released over a weekend.  He was obviously familiar with the law and knew how the office would function in his own absence.

            That, of course assumes that none of this is coincidence.  Some, though I expect not all, could very easily be coincidence.  If someone murdered Mr. Gricar, and wanted to get rid of the laptop, a likely place to toss it is in the river within walking distance of the Mini.  Likewise, the murderer may not have even known about the election and there was no guarantee that the case would have remained in Centre County.  Union or even Northumberland Counties could have been the prime investigatory agency.

            At best, if there ever would be evidence that Mr. Gricar walked away, it might explain some of his actions.  It certainly does not add too much weight to the theory that he did.

I hope in the future to look at another case where there even greater evidence pointing a result, and it did turn out to be coincidence.

End Note


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