Special Reports

The 20 Words

[This is yet another one of those blog entries that was lost in the transition.  I’ll add some comments as an update at the end.]

            Late last summer and into the early autumn, I looked in detail at the investigation into the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar.  One thing I did in that series was to look at some of the public comments on the case of then District Attorney Michael T. Madeira.  That subseries was titled “Mr. Madeira’s Strange Comments,” because in light of other comments, they were strange, often inaccurate, comments. 

            This particular entry is about a comment from the current District Attorney, Stacey Parks Miller.  It will either be “Ms. Parks Miller’s Strange Comment,” or an example of her superior analytical skills and candor.  I don’t know which.  The particular comment was this:  “The only thing I will say is that I believe homicide is the least likely, but we rule out nothing.  Those twenty words are probably the most definitive statement ever made by someone officially involved in the investigation.

            For the first time, someone actually involved with the case, who looked at the files and, presumably, talked to the police, said that she thought homicide was the least likely possibility.  There are three basic theories:  foul play, suicide, and walk away.  The last two refer to a voluntary action on Mr. Gricar’s part.   I also know of a source that had some communications with Ms. Parks Miller prior to taking office, and my sources’ impression was that she was not leaning away from foul play as an option.  She made the statement that foul play was the “least likely” possibility after carefully reviewing the files.  This, along with the computer searches, prompted my fellow blogger, Slamdunk, to raise the likelihood of walk away to 49%, with murder at 44%. He raised his likelihood numbers from 44% walk away in March of 2009 and dropped his second category, crime victim, from 46% to 44%.

            You will note that this comment did not move my numbers (nor did the computer search revelation).  There is a reason for that.  I look at evidence.  Ms. Parks Miller’s comment doesn’t surprise me.  There simply is no actual evidence that Mr. Gricar was a victim of a crime.  What does surprise me is that she put foul play as the lowest possibility, even lower than suicide.

            Suicide and walk away have something in common; they are both voluntary actions.  Ms. Parks Miller has looked at the files.  Is she commenting on the absence of evidence of homicide, or something more?  Is there strong evidence of either walk away or suicide; is there evidence of a voluntary action?  There is some circumstantial evidence that points to Mr. Gricar’s disappearance to be walk away, but not overwhelmingly so. 

One comment made by Ms. Parks Miller was definitely not a strange comment.  It was this comment:  “And since taking office and being able to review the file and the investigation, I can say I was very pleased to learn that what the public was informed of is just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of what has been done in the investigation.”    This is true.  There is a lot that the police, especially the Bellefonte Police, have done in this case that has been under reported or unreported.  The police even went so far as to check satellite photos of Lewisburg2. 

            I’ve occasionally heard some of what has been checked.  They looked at me; my photo is in the file.  And they should check, just make sure I wasn’t involved (I wasn’t involved and I did try to make it easy for them to find out).  There is a lot the police have done that we do not know.  Even what is known is impressive.

Update:  Well, Ms. Parks Miller uttered these twenty words just under eleven months ago and I wrote these comments about eight months ago.  In that time, some new information has come out in the public.  Not a lot, but a little bit. 

       I’m still skeptical, and I still wouldn’t call homicide the “least likely” possibility, but I would have to say that this looks less like the first entry in “Ms. Parks Miller’s Strange Comments” and more like “an example of her superior analytical skills and candor.”  Not a lot more, but just a little bit more.

End Notes

1 CDT 4/1/10, http://www.centredaily.com/2010/04/01/1888171/review-board-lends-new-eyes.html


2   http://www.centredaily.com/2010/06/20/2397443/paging-mulder-and-scully.html

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