Special Reports

Releasing Information

            In a blog last week, I diverged a bit from discussing the disappearance of former Centre County District Ray Gricar.  I discussed the case of the death of Sergeant Patrick S. Rust in Watertown, NY.  The reason was to discuss the evidence release in the Rust case and compare it to the releasing evidence in the Gricar case.

              The Rust investigation was conducted by the US Army, which, 

by its nature, is use to keeping secrets.  If they don’t keep some

secrets, people die.  They are also covered by stronger laws about

releasing information, the federal Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, an

important difference from the Gricar case.  Still, the FOIA is not applicable,

i.e. the information does not have to be released if it “could reasonably be

expected to interfere with [law] enforcement proceedings.”1  What was

released in the Rust case was deemed not to “interfere” in that

investigation.
              So what we have is one case, the Rust case, whose 

investigators are part of an organization that keeps secrets, by definite

necessity, which has released information, even though they could

have put forward a good argument against it.  We also have one case,

the Gricar case, where the lead investigators are local, not really

secretive, who are either elected by the voters of their county or

borough, or chosen by people so elected, that have not released a lot

of information.  It is both bizarre and disturbing.
              There is more that should be released, and that won’t imperil 

the investigation.  Let’s look at some of these:
              1.   A timeline of the witnesses.2  Individual reports came out 

from the police in the first week after the disappearance.  Others came

out over the summer, 2005.  One came out in the press conference by

Mr. McKnight and Mr. Buehner.3  The last came out, released by the

police, less than six months ago.4  That was the “county worker” that

saw Mr. Gricar turning on Route 192 at Centre Hall; even that one

didn’t include the time of the sighting.
              What can be released is the time of the witness reports on

4/15/05 through 4/18/05, their location, along with the details of

what they saw
.  Also, if there are any additional witnesses from the

Southfield sighting (5/27/05), that information should be released.5
              The names of the witnesses can be redacted, especially if the 

witness does not want to be publicly identified.
              2.  The records of Mr. Gricar cell phone can be released 

from 4/14/05 through 4/17/05.  That would include the calls Mr. Gricar

made as well as

those he received.  Also the towers that carried the signal, the “pings,”

even when he wasn’t talking on the phone could be released.6  Again,

personal data could be removed.
              In a similar situation, Mr. Gricar did use his computer, probably 

his office computer, on 4/14/05; he exchanged e-mail with a defense

attorney about the case.  The times that used it would be recorded,

including the times he sent e-mails.  Again, those times can be released.
              3.  For a very long time, there was a very good reason not to 

release the security camera tapes from the Courthouse.  Show the

range of the camera could imperil Courthouse security.  That ended

when excerpts of the tape were given to the program
Disappeared .  It

has been rerun several times and you can find a copy of it on You Tube.
              There have been questions about if Mr. Gricar was seen behind 

the Centre County Courthouse on 4/14 or 4/15, possibly in an unknown

“metallic colored” car.7  If it is there, it should be on that video tape.  It

would also show when Mr. Gricar entered and left the Courthouse on

4/14.  It might show if someone associated with Mr. Gricar could have

left the Courthouse mid-day on 4/15 and didn’t return for hours.  It might

also show if someone was following Mr. Gricar.  It might be able to

eliminate the possibility that Mr. Gricar was in this metallic colored car. 
              This goes beyond the simple, but important, right of the public to 

know.  Knowing Mr. Gricar’s whereabouts on 4/14-4/15/05 may generate

more witnesses.  Somebody might have seen something, but never

connected it to Gricar disappearance.
              None of this information is new and was gathered more than six

 years ago; it doesn’t require any additional investigation or investigative

resources.  Police generally build a timeline, as can be seen in the Rust

case, based on the evidence.  They should have had one six years ago.
              Parts of it have trickled out.  How do I know that Mr. Gricar did 

exchange e-mail with a defense attorney?  It was report by my

predecessor, Mr. Bosak, in the Q and A Forum.  There was no great

secret about it.  It is perhaps ironic that then defense attorney is no

longer a defense attorney; her name is Stacy Parks Miller, the current

District Attorney of Centre County.
              After writing this, Mr. Gricar’s daughter, Lara, submitted a petition 

to the Centre County Court to declare Mr. Gricar dead.  As part of that

process, she declared that there has been “diligent inquiry” into her

father’s disappearance8; that is the language of the statute.9  How can

a court know if that has been a truly “diligent inquiry” unless the results

are known, in open court?  Isn’t there a moral, if not legal, right of the

public to know what was discovered in regard to the disappearance of

a sitting, publicly elected, district attorney?
  End Notes

1 http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/usc.cgi?ACTION=RETRIEVE&FILE=$$xa$$busc5.wais&start=182495&SIZE=104614&TYPE=TEXT

2 http://www.centredaily.com/2009/03/19/2396336/the-time-line-of-the-witness-sightings.html

3  http://www.centredaily.com/2009/09/16/2396685/the-investigation-part-13-mr-madeira.html

4   http://www.centredaily.com/2011/02/27/2547727/day-of-investigation-discovery.html

5   http://www.centredaily.com/2011/02/14/2518751/southfield-sighting.html

6   http://www.centredaily.com/2011/04/28/2676956/triangulation.html

7   http://www.centredaily.com/2009/03/12/2397159/behind-the-courthouse.html

8 http://www.centredaily.com/2011/07/05/2817535/daughter-petitions-court-to-declare.html

9 http://law.onecle.com/pennsylvania/decedents-estates-and-fiduciaries/00.057.001.000.html 

 

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 scorg@live.com

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