Part IV: Ray Gricar Missing Person

This is the fourth post of a multiple part series on the Ray Gricar disappearance. Gricar was a district attorney in Central Pennsylvania, and disappeared in 2005. On the day he went missing, he told his girlfriend that he was taking a vacation day from work, and driving about an hour away from his workplace to do some shopping. His car was found abandoned the next day, and his laptop computer was later recovered submerged under a bridge near his parked vehicle.

In Part III, I discussed suicide as a scenario to explain the disappearance, and will continue with another possible explanation in this post.

Scenario #2: Crime Victim
Making the case that Gricar was the victim of a random street crime in Lewisburg is difficult based on the available information. Any street crime in Lewisburg on a sunny Friday in April would be a big story. Adjacent to the shops and parking lot where his vehicle was recovered, is a public park. Normally there are lots of vehicle and foot traffic in that area (shoppers, residents, university students, etc.). Water Street (where the parking area is) is used by hurried motorists going west from RT 45 to bypass downtown Lewisburg and get over to Route 15.

Arguing that Gricar was the victim of a crime while traveling to Lewisburg seems even less likely. This scenario is not impossible in that Gricar’s work against dangerous criminals is well documented. It would be easy to find out where the DA lived, and for some persons to follow him one day.

What does not support this assertion is his route traveled on the day he went missing (assuming that the information police have on his travels is accurate). The speed limits on Hwy. 192, a rural road with only pockets of sparsely settled areas, average 55 mph which means folks drive 70+ mph—making it tough to kidnap someone in broad daylight.

Also, with Gricar’s car being parked in Lewisburg next to the antique shops, I don’t think someone would go to the effort of harming him on rural 192 and then driving his vehicle to Lewisburg--his vehicle would have been dumped somewhere less conspicuous.

The most plausible of the crime victim theories is that Gricar met someone he knew in Lewisburg and that led to foul play. In my opinion, three pieces of evidence support this scenario.

First, on that fateful trip, Gricar brought his laptop with him, which was considered by colleagues as unusual. My initial thoughts were that he brought his the computer with him to Lewisburg either because he was the DA and he could use it if work called him, or that he kept antique toy prices and information on it and used it while he was shopping. Graciously, a member of the Gricar family member stated to me that he did not believe the second assumption was valid—that Gricar was not known to keep computer databases related to his collectible interests.

As a result, it is unclear why he would he be carrying his laptop (also missing are his wallet, keys, and sunglasses) with him to meet someone. His cell phone was recovered in the car. If the laptop was in the vehicle when Gricar disappeared wouldn’t the suspect be taking a big risk by going back to his car to search it? Perhaps this was a calculated risk knowing that the hard drive contained critical information, but less plausible than assuming something happened to him while the laptop was in his possession.

Since it was county-owned computer I am certain that access was protected, and it would be of little value other than to hide Gricar’s private email account activities, Internet site browsing, etc. It is possible that unknown persons wanted extra time to think about what to do with his laptop after the item was taken from Gricar. Maybe they did not want to leave the computer with him, and after checking the equipment or realizing that they could not access any of the information, they decided to discard the laptop.

In sum, Gricar did something unusual on the day he disappeared--he brought his laptop with him on what was believed to have been a shopping trip. This in itself brings the stated intent of the trip into question and supports the crime victim theory.

The second piece of evidence that supports a scenario where Gricar was taken against his will is the recovery location of the laptop.

I’ll post more information on the scenarios soon, and here are the links to Part I , Part II, and Part III.


J. J. in Phila said...

Good job, Slamdunk. I hope to read more about the case.

Two points:

First, the laptop was found on the North side of the bridge, most likely heading toward Lewisburg and Bellefonte. The drive was found about 150 yards upriver from where the laptop was found.

Second, a number of witnesses put Mr. Gricar alive and well (and at least 3 put him in the Mini Cooper in the parking lot) between 5:00 PM and 6:30 PM in Lewisburg on Friday 4/15/05. Three put him in Lewisburg around noon on 4/16.

Two witnesses, including a Phila area police officer that was visiting the area, put Mr. Gricar in Wilkes-Barre (about an hour and ten minute drive from Lewisburg) in the evening of 4/18/05. That the police officer was one of these witnesses is newly released information (it came out in November).

Slamdunk said...

Excellent insight JJ--you stole my thunder regarding my next post. I remember seeing your posts on some of the Gricar discussion threads and you are well versed in this missing person case.

I also believe that recovery of the laptop (north side of the bridge) is a relevant clue in the case. Not only does it allow us to reasonably conclude that the vehicle from which it was tossed was heading back into Lewisburg (as you stated), but that the vehicle had more than one occupant. The idea of a single occupant does not make sense--that he/she threw the computer out the passenger side window while driving at 30+ mph.

I better stop talking or I won't have anything to write about for the next Gricar post. Thanks for reading.

J. J in Phila said...

Slamdunk, about two years ago, Mr. Gricar's two nephews thought pretty much the same thing. They went out to see if a driver could have reached over and tossed it.

They concluded it was possible, even in a relatively low to the ground car, like a Mini Cooper.

It could have been one person.

I'm under the impression that the "tosser/driver" would almost have to stop or drive very slowly.

Slamdunk said...

Ok, thanks for that information JJ--good stuff. Let me think about the nephews' perspectives, and see how to best incorporate that into my next Gricar post.

J. J. in Phila said...

I am working on an witness list, from published sources. Not names, but descriptions of where and when the witnesses saw something, and what they saw. You you wish me to post it?

Slamdunk said...

Wow JJ--sounds like a valuable list. Would you email me the list instead and perhaps we can use it and other case information that you see as relevant to create an entire blog post?

I'll add a contact email address for me to the "About Me" section on the blog's home page this evening (1/30). Thanks.

J. J. in Phila said...

If you or someone you know has access to the Penn State Alumni Association on-line directory, I'll be happy to give you instructions how to get my e-mail address. :)

My real identity is the worst kept secret in Centre County. :)

Anonymous said...

I found your information on the web doing a search. I keep up with the case because my husband worked in Bellefonte for a few months, and we lived in nearby New York where it was front and center on the news several times a day. But I think you are erroneous in some of your assumptions.

Pete Bosak at the Centre Daily in State College has been following this case for five years. Please read everything you can find on his blogs to get the information he has found on his own or has been told to him by law enforcement in Bellefonte and PA as well as Gricar's friends.

There is much, much, much information to suggest Gricar disappeared because he wanted to "disappear." You are a former police woman; I think you are leaning too hard to suggesting Gricar was a crime victim. As for his money and what he did with it, his daughter has control of his money and refuses to release how much it is or any other matter.

Just because you are a former police woman, please do not assume he was a victim of crime. Much of the evidence, some of it not reported, tends to say it could have just as easily been a planned disappearance on Gricar's part.

I am former news reporter with news investigative training. When I reported on something I tended to be fair and report all evidence, whether I liked it or not. You owe it to your readers to do the same. Please. Good luck.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the feedback Anonymous.

First, there is a lot of information posted on the Gricar case, and I certainly do not claim to know everything. I'll look at site that you reference as I have when others have sent me links relevant to the case.

Second, and most importantly, I have not stated that Mr. Gricar was a crime victim. With the Gricar series, I posted six entries regarding the case and am just starting on the third theory--that the victim voluntarily disappeared. Regarding the crime victim and suicide theories, I have simply posted information that supported or questioned those perspectives.

In sum, thanks for visiting and stay tuned for subsequent posts as I tackle the thought that Mr. Gricar wanted to vanish.

Anonymous said...

I just finished watching 20/20's story on the corrupt judges in Wilkes-Barre, is it possible there is a connection?

Slamdunk said...

Anonymous on 3/27: The corruption scandal in Wilkes Barre has gotten lots of national attention, but I am unaware if any of those being prosecuted have any connections to Ray Gricar. It is certainly worth seeing if any of the names involved there had any connection (professionally or other) to Mr. Gricar.

J. J. in Phila said...

Anonymous and Slamdunk,

Sorry for chiming in late, but in regards to a Wilkes Barre connection, so far as I know, there was none prior to 4/18. Mr. Gricar's family and colleagues thought it would be unusual for him to be there (if that was him).

I am familiar with the scandal, but there was no "Gricar Connection," or any connection to Centre County.