Special Reports

How Strong Is the Southfield Sighting?

How Strong is the Southfield Sighting?

    When looking at the witnesses in the disappearance of Ray Gricar, and judging them, I look at a number of factors.  The first thing is, is the witness reliable in general.  Does he hallucinate, is he a dishonest, i.e. does he have some motive to say something false.  None of the known witnesses seem to have any problems in that area.  Nobody said, “I saw this Gricar guy get into the UFO with Elvis.”

    The second factor is the circumstances of the sighting, the distance from the witness to the presumed Mr. Gricar and the length of time the witness saw him.  We have several sightings, Ms. Fenton for example, where it was a fleeting glimpse from a distance of 20 feet.  We have several, were the witness observed Mr. Gricar for a few minutes and were in close proximity to him.

    The third factor is if the witness is trained to be particularly observant of people.  The police officer in Wilkes-Barre falls into that category.  Police, by both training and experience, has to be observant, there career depends on it, as, sometimes do their lives.

    The fourth factor is, do other witnesses corroborate them.  Did other witnesses see the same thing, or do other witnesses see things that fit into the sighting.  If Witness A says, “I saw Joe walking down College Avenue toward Atherton Street at 3:45 PM,” and Witness B says, “I saw Joe at the corner of College and Atherton at just before 4:00 PM,” that would be corroboration, because Joe could have walked from College Avenue to Atherton Street and been seen by both witnesses.

    The fifth factor is if the witnesses were exposed to some other witnesses account prior to reporting; did the witnesses talked with each other or see it in the media prior to speaking to the police.  In the example above, Witness A might have seen Joe wearing a jacket and tie.  Witness B might not remember that.  Witness B, subconsciously, could incorporate that detail into his memory of the event.  Are the corroborating witnesses reporting independently? 

    The sixth factor is if there is physical evidence supporting the witness report.  In this example, did a security camera catch Joe approaching Atherton Street at 3:55 PM?  (Nobody might look at the security camera footage unless the witnesses report it.)

    The main Southfield witness is a retired police officer, who the police did check.  No Elvis sightings were mentioned.  He held a position of responsibility, obviously.  The second point is more compelling; he was a trained and experienced observer of people.  He also knew faces, as a composite artist.  On the first two points, this is an outstanding witness, who obviously had no involvement to the case.

    Proximity and time observing the subject are also high; that is the third point.  The retired police officer observed the man while he, the officer was eating; afterward, he spoke to the man he identified as Mr. Gricar.  This was more than a fleeting glimpse.  There was long and close contact.

    There was corroboration, the retired officer’s daughter also saw the man and said it was Mr. Gricar.  Her father called her and said that the person was Mr. Gricar.  Father and daughter had contact.  This was not independent confirmation.  The officer also looked up Mr. Gricar’s photo on the Internet, and may have shown it to her.  There were other witnesses, however.

    The articles on the sighting note that several people at the restaurant were shown a photo of Mr. Gricar and thought he looked “familiar.”  No more was reported.  What those witnesses reported would be crucial.  Did they say, “I think I’ve this person some place?”  It is possible that they saw the story on a cable station, with a photo of Mr. Gricar.  Did they say, “I think I saw him in the restaurant,” or “I remember the guy in the photo being here sometime last week,” or “This guy was in here last Friday?”  If those things happened, there would be independent confirmation of the sighting.*  We simply don’t know what those other witnesses told the police.

     There is no known physical evidence putting Mr. Gricar in Southfield.  In the context of the sighting, it would be difficult to obtain any.  Some of the circumstances around the sighting, close to an international boundary, close to a foreign consulate, and happening on a Friday of a holiday weekend, do add weight to the sighting, if just circumstantial weight.

     One thing that does not fit is the woman Mr. Gricar was seen with at the restaurant.  She was too old to be the “Mystery Woman” from Lewisburg.  There are no relatives from the Detroit area and no known close and loyal friends.  That is, currently, a point against this really being Mr. Gricar.

     The Southfield witnesses are strong, but the sighting lacks some key elements of the other sightings, the lack of physical evidence supporting the witnesses as in Lewisburg, the weak (reported) independent corroboration of the witnesses. 

     There is reasonably strong circumstantial evidence.  That this sighting happened on a Memorial Day Weekend Friday, a day when, even if promptly reported, would get limited coverage, is part of that.  So is the closeness to an Interstate.  As noted in the previous entry, if this is an accurate sighting, it would be likely, well beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Gricar chose to leave voluntarily.

*If there was independent verification of this type, I would be raising odds on walkaway well above 50%.  That would make it probable that Mr. Gricar walked away.  That would still be below reasonable doubt.

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