I was surprised at the tenor of some of the comments on this story about the petition to declare former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar legally dead. What really surprised was not the number of people that thought he walked away. We’ve seen indications, for years, that this was the favorite theory of many, if not most, observers. One comment was the outright hostility to his daughter, Lara Gricar:
“That's because little Lara knows where daddy is hiding. She came tearfully forward six years ago, he called her and told her it was ok, and she immediately disappeared back to Seattle. Now he's broke and wants his insurance money! My guess is that the new girlfriend is about to rat him out and disclose his plan.” 1
There were several others with a similar connotation.
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To be honest, I’ve heard things like this many times before. It assumes several different things. First that the explanation for Mr. Gricar’s vanishing is that he simple chose to leave. Second, that as today, Mr. Gricar is alive and effectively in hiding. Third, is the premise that his daughter knows where he’s hiding. Well, does she?
There is some evidence of the first, but I wouldn’t call it compelling. I know of no evidence that would support, or refute, the theory Mr. Gricar is alive now. The most recent evidence that I have seen that even weakly points to Mr. Gricar being alive is more than six years old.
On the third point, there is some circumstantial evidence against Ms. Gricar knowing the location of her father. Now, in all fairness, I have not spent the last six years following Ms. Gricar around, opening her mail, intercepting her e-mail, or tapping her phone calls; no, I am not able to do a Vulcan mind meld with her, either. I can absolutely not say it is impossible, but I can say there is some evidence, circumstantial, against it.
The first piece of evidence is Ms. Gricar’s demeanor in the months after Mr. Gricar’s disappearance. She was in the area for several weeks immediately after her father disappeared, and spoke to the press about the case in July 2005. He uncle, Tony Gricar, was gradually ceded the role as family spokesman in the summer and autumn of 2005. She continued to speak, though with less frequency, and appeared on the episode of Disappeared that was taped in 2010. Further, five months after her father disappeared, she submitted to a polygraph test, which she passed. While it is not impossible to “beat” a polygraph test, it is very difficult to do so. None of this is consistent with Mr. Gricar calling up his daughter and saying, “I’m alive, don’t say anything.”2
It is also likely that the police considered the possibility of collusion between father and daughter. Ms. Gricar location could be verified on 4/15/05 as being more than 2000 miles from Lewisburg. When the police polygraphed her, they certainly were not considering her a suspect in her father’s murder; she certainly couldn’t shoot, stab, strangle or push her father into the Susquehanna from Washington state.
The second point is the legal situation. If Mr. Gricar is alive out there someplace, that would violate no law. He wasn’t running from an arrest or even running out on debts. It is perfectly legal to walk away from your life. Mr. Gricar did not leave the impression that he was a crime victim or that he committed suicide; he could leave a blood stain in the Mini Cooper or leave a suicide note. If Mr. Gricar walked away, he didn’t even leave evidence that would point to something else.
If Mr. Gricar is alive and out there someplace, and informed his daughter, and if his daughter claims, in court documents or under oath, that she has never heard from him, that would violate the law. It would begin with something called making unsworn falsifications to authorities and could, because it deals with the distribution of assets, ultimately get into fraud and tax law violations. Finally, in this entire string of possibilities, we have something that is illegal.3
There are several things that I’ve concluded about Mr. Gricar. He was a pretty bright guy. He was also a pretty good attorney. His practice for more than 30 years dealt with evidence and sworn testimony. There can be no doubt that Mr. Gricar would have realized the legal troubles he’d create, both for himself and Ms. Gricar, if he told her he was alive, and that would be discovered.
Even if you believe that Mr. Gricar left voluntarily, it makes more sense, from a legal and financial perspective, for him not to phone home. It would protect his daughter not to tell her, if, in fact, he’s out there someplace.
There is no evidence that I’m aware of that would support the premise that Mr. Gricar, if he is out there, has communicated with his daughter. Her demeanor has not been consistent with getting a secret phone call, e-mail, or letter from him, where he told her to stay quiet. Logically, there would be huge risks, both financial and legal, if she were part of some plot to hide her father’s location; Mr. Gricar, a skilled prosecutor, would obviously be aware of that. The circumstantial evidence is that, if Mr. Gricar walked away, he has not contacted his daughter.
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