Special Reports

Basements and Motel Rooms

            My basement flooded.  It had four inches of water in it.   Now, I lived in the Johnstown area during the 1977 flood, and four inches of water in my basement is not really “flooded,” by my standards.   It is “flooding” by Philadelphia standards.  It wasn’t just my basement either; all my neighbors down the street had their basements flooded, with a lot more water and a lot more damage.

            A sewer backed up in a rainstorm.  Most of my neighbors had feet of water in it; many of them had finished basements.  Because I get runoff water, I had everything of value up on pallets and milk crates.  My landlady did have some stuff on the floor, but it wasn’t particularly valuable.  Basically, there was a lot old, wet crap from both of us thought wasn’t worth anything.

Because I live uphill from all my neighbors, I didn’t get the really nasty stuff they had.  Well possibly on the molecular level I did.  So, the City of Philadelphia cleaned out my basement.  They said that we could get rid of the old, wet, crap and both my landlady and I thought this a great idea, especially since the City of Philadelphia was willing to do it.  They were happy to pay for it, since it was there responsibility and neither my landlady nor I were planning to claim that we anything of real value for which they’d have to write us a check (though I’m sure that there was some stuff she could claim legitimately). 

I got to watch the cleaning crew work; the water had long since drained away.  They “reflooded” the basement with a sanitizing solution, and the pumped the water out.  They ran air blowers and dehumidifiers in the basement for several days.  They did a great job, and my basement is now much cleaner than the rest of my house.  I liked watching them work.

I did notice something, however.  They were not perfect.  I’ll notice an occasional light mud splatter, even though they covered everything with plastic.  This got me thinking about the disappearance of Ray Gricar.  If the former District Attorney was murdered, would it need to be cleaned up?

Think about this, had Mr. Gricar been physically attacked as a prelude to murder, there probably would have been a lot of blood.  If Mr. Gricar had been shot, stabbed, beaten, dismembered, or was in a physical fight, there would have been blood, possibly scraps of skin and hair in the area where it happened.  So, if this had happened in an area with public access, like a motel room, the results probably would have been discovered, even if the cleaning crew that did my basement showed up to clean it.   This doesn’t even take into account how the murderer would dispose of the remains.

Well, there are other ways to murder someone other than by shooting, stabbing, beating, dismembering, or physically fighting the person.  A person drugged might not be able to fight back and could easily be strangled or suffocated.  Could the hypothetical murderer have drugged Mr. Gricar, for example, slipped him a roofie, the date rape drug, and then killed him with a minimum of blood? 

            I did a bit of research on crimes involving roofies and discovered there was a woman in the United Kingdom convicted of using the drug to incapacitate men she had met in upscale clubs and hotels, and then rob them.1  The date that she was convicted struck me, January of 2005, well before Mr. Gricar disappeared. 

If this happened, it would be hugely unlikely robbery was the motive.  Lewisburg, from what I saw of it, was a nice typical Pennsylvania town, not an “upscale” area.  Mr. Gricar wasn’t exactly dressed like an investment banker.  The Street of Shops is not exactly a pickup spot. The murderer would likely have known Mr. Gricar and planned the crime.

This possibility, however, is one of those possible explanations for what happened to Mr. Gricar.  It could explain how he was killed, but not how the murderer hid the body.  Conversely Mr. Gricar could have been murdered, bloodily, in a nonpublic place, a secluded location, fully conscious when it happened.

 One of the people I talk with in the Gricar case mentioned poison in an explanation of why no one every spotted blood.  Poison can be difficult to slip into a food or drink; sometimes it makes the victim sick first.  Mr. Gricar could have gone to the hospital; there was one within a mile of where the Mini Cooper was found.  Drugging, with something reasonably common, like a roofie, would be possible.   I will admit, it is one of those possibilities that keep me up at night.


1 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/4179037.stm


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