One point coming from the Disappeared program on former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar has generated some comment on the Internet. It was the comment, from Patty Fornicola, Mr. Gricar’s girlfriend and co-worker, that he sounded “startled” when she answered the telephone.
Ms. Fornicola’s statement was: I answered [the phone in the District Attorney’s Office] and it was Ray. And he seemed startled that I had picked up the phone. It is the word “startled” that has raised some eyebrows among the chattering class.
Let’s get some background here. Ms. Fornicola was Mr. Gricar’s girlfriend and had been for about three years; she had worked in the office for at least five years. About two months before, she left her position as Victim/Witness Advocate to become a clerk in the office; one of the duties of the clerk was to answer the phone. Mr. Gricar ran the office and knew that Ms. Fornicola was a clerk; he also knew the duties of the several clerks. That Ms. Fornicola answered the phone was in no way unusual.
That morning, prior to leaving for work, Ms. Fornicola left Mr. Gricar a note. The purpose was for her to ask Mr. Gricar to call her should he not be able to walk the dog around lunchtime. While she might not have written out “I will be at work,” there would be a strong implication that she would be at work. Mr. Gricar should not have been surprised that Ms. Fornicola would be at work.
Perhaps Mr. Gricar thought someone else would have answered the phone. Perhaps he wanted to tell this someone else to meet him in Lewisburg. Well, he didn’t ask to speak to anyone else; he didn’t call anyone else on his cell phone. He didn’t even ask what staff members were in that day. It would be very unlikely that Ms. Fornicola would tell anyone, “Ray called and wants me to let the dog out at lunch,” and unknowingly give someone else the message.
Yet, according to Ms. Fornicola, Mr. Gricar sounded “startled” when she answered the phone; what could be the reason?
Well, there can be several. First of all, Ms. Fornicola might have misinterpreted Mr. Gricar’s reaction; she obviously couldn’t see him. Considering that the two had worked together for around five years, and lived together, it might be unlikely, but it is still possible.
There is a second possibility; Mr. Gricar might not have realized the call went through to the District Attorney’s Office when Ms. Fornicola picked up the phone. That is possible because of the way the phone system at the Courthouse was set up in 2005. At the time, all calls went through a central switchboard. If anyone called in, even the District Attorney, the call be answered by the switchboard and then forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office.
Mr. Gricar was calling from a cell phone, and then had to wait for the call to be transferred from the switchboard to the office. It is possible, very possible, that he didn’t hear the call being transferred.
Is that unusual? Well, while I was in the process of writing this, a colleague called me. I was out and the answering machine took the call. Despite the fact that this was clearly an answering machine, my colleague sounded startled, that the recorder started. It isn’t unusual.
Centre Daily Times Ray Gricar Section: http://www.centredaily.com/138/
Link to the Main Index for Sporadic Comments on Ray Gricar: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/21/2597340/main-index-32011.html
E-mail J. J. in Phila at firstname.lastname@example.org