Special Reports

Gricar lead from Oprah audience fizzles

BELLEFONTE — After reviewing two tapes' worth of Oprah Winfrey shows, Bellefonte police have discredited a tip that missing Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar was in the studio audience.

"We did not see anybody in the audience who even remotely looked like Ray," Bellefonte Police Chief Duane Dixon said Wednesday, a day after he and another officer reviewed the tapes sent them by producers.

Police received the tip from a woman, but Dixon did not know where she was from, as the officer who handled the tip was not available Wednesday.

The Winfrey screening illustrates the diligence of the investigation and that police are pursuing every lead, no matter how far-fetched it may seem, the chief said.

"It's getting to the point things are slowing down," Dixon said. "But what tips do come in, we are pursuing them. We're doing everything we can."

Gricar, 59, disappeared April 15. At about 11:30 a.m. that day he called his girlfriend, Patty Fornicola, to say he was taking a drive on state Route 192 in Brush Valley. Fornicola called police 12 hours later when Gricar did not return.

Gricar's red and white Mini Cooper was found the next day in a Lewisburg parking lot with his cell phone inside.

Police have pursued possible sightings in Wilkes-Barre, Ohio, Michigan and Maryland, but none have panned out.

In each instance, either surveillance footage showed the man in question was not Gricar or no new information materialized as a result of the reported sighting.

The Oprah Winfrey show is taped in Chicago.

"It's disappointing," Dixon said. "I'd like to see it come to some conclusion, not just for the police department, but most importantly, for the family."

Pete Bosak can be reached at 235-3928.