Special Reports

Morganelli vows to help Gricar case

District Attorney Ray Gricar speaks at the Attorney General's office in  State College Thursday.  March 31, 2005
District Attorney Ray Gricar speaks at the Attorney General's office in State College Thursday. March 31, 2005 CDT file photo

BELLEFONTE — The Democratic candidate for attorney general stopped at the Centre County courthouse Tuesday to say that if he's elected, he'll form a cold case unit that will take up the disappearance of Ray Gricar as its first task. The stop was one of many that John Morganelli made Tuesday as part of his campaign to unseat Republican Tom Corbett. Former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar was last heard from as he was driving through Brush Valley on April 15, 2005. His car was found in Lewisburg.

Morganelli, who is the Northampton County district attorney, said if he's elected he'll start a cold case unit focused on giving smaller counties the resources they lack in these "long-standing" investigations. And although he came to the county accompanied by Montour County District Attorney Bob Buehner — a sharp critic of the Gricar investigation — Morganelli said he believes the Bellefonte Police Department and Centre County District At torney Michael Ma deira have done everything they can.

"But local prosecutors and police have limited resources and can only do so much with any single case," Morganelli said. There's no way to know if such a unit could solve the case, but said "it couldn't have hurt," and criticized sitting At torney General Tom Corbett for not taking over the case.

Corbett's spokesman Kevin Harley said Tuesday that the Attorney General's Office cannot simply take cases away from district attorneys. "It's obvious that Morganelli has no understanding of the law regarding the jurisdiction of the Attorney General's Of fice," Harley said.

Only if there is a lack of resources or a conflict of interest can a district attorney refer a case to the attorney general, Harley said.

The problem in the Gricar case isn't a lack of help, just a lack of new information and leads, Madeira said. Corbett's office agreed.

"In this case, (Madeira) has had the resources of the Bellefonte Police De partment, the entire state police and even the FBI," spokesman Kevin Harley said.

Madeira said he was also concerned that the Gricar case was being politicized, and Corbett's office agreed.

"It's unfortunate that Morganelli would use the disappearance of Ray Gricar for partisan political purposes," Harley said. Morganelli said the Gricar case is just one example of how his proposal for a cold case unit could benefit the state. Morganelli called himself a longtime friend of Gricar's and said he and many other people have been left with a "sense of helplessness," after three years with no answers.

The Pennsylvania State Police have a similar unit that did review the Gricar case, and "This is not a case that we will allow to die," Madeira said.

Most recently, Madeira sent a hard drive thought to have come from Gricar's laptop to a lab to see if any in formation can be recovered. He is still awaiting the results, he said.

Sara Ganim can be reached at 231-4616.