Part V: Ray Gricar Missing Person

This is the fifth 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 would be 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.

I’ll continue the discussion from Part IV exploring the possibility that Gricar was a crime victim.

Scenario #2: Crime Victim (Continued)
The second piece of evidence that supports a scenario where Gricar was taken against his will is the recovery location of the laptop. Fishermen found the DA’s computer submerged in shallow water north of the Lewisburg Bridge. Unfortunately, the computer was missing its hard drive (was recovered later), and had been in the water for several months.

Since the laptop was found closer to the middle of the river, the accepted theory is that someone tossed the computer from a car from the Hwy. 45 bridge. The computer’s discovery on the north side of the bridge indicates that someone either tossed the computer across a lane of traffic and over the road barrier while driving out of Lewisburg or the item was thrown through the passenger side window as a car was driving back into Lewisburg from the east.

I think examining each of the three discard possibilities in relation to the recovery location of the laptop, can help make sense of the information. First, a driver throwing the equipment off the bridge while motoring east from Lewisburg is a less likely scenario. If discarding the laptop was a priority, tossing it across traffic while driving and simultaneously monitoring all directions to determine if any potentially witnesses existed, seems especially risky. If just one person sees you make the throw, then you have suddenly attracted attention to yourself when there was evidently nothing usual before the toss.

Second, the idea that driver had to lean over and throw it out the passenger side window while driving West seems even more unlikely. In this scenario, a driver would face all the same obstacles described above, and would add the additional complexity of throwing it across the car’s compartment while leaning. What if the laptop strikes the vehicle or bridge wall and bounces on the roadway? Is it important enough to go back and retrieve? Do you risk being seen?

No, in my opinion, the explanation that makes the most sense is that the vehicle was moving west returning to Lewisburg, and a passenger threw the laptop into the water north of the bridge. The two items being recovered in two different locations could simply be attributed to impact as the hard drive became unattached when the item struck the water, but what if this is another clue.

Perhaps, two throws were made, as this would be consistent with the laptop and the hard drive recovery spots. The laptop was thrown first and landed more in the middle of the water near the bridge, while the hard drive was recovered closer to the western shore. This also would support a crime victim theory as hard drive was taken out of Gricar’s computer for some reason prior to the laptop being discarded.

I believe that the location of the laptop indicates that there was a passenger in the vehicle and not just Gricar or one other person. If the two person theory is accepted, then it is logical to believe that the items were thrown from the car Gricar had been driving.

With at least two persons using Gricar’s car, to discard his computer, the scenarios characterizing him as a crime victim become more viable. In addition, the recovery of the items from the river so close to his car seem to indicated that the computer was most likely hastily discarded—thrown as Gricar’s car was being returned (for whatever reason) to the parking lot a hundred yards northwest of the bridge. This would also be consistent with those persons trying to destroy any evidence or potential evidence of a crime.

Further, you would think that someone hurriedly tossing a laptop from a bridge so close to where a missing person's vehicle was recovered was acting under duress and not thinking clearly. The hurried description of someone tossing items from a car also connects well with my third key piece of evidence (cigarette ashes found in the victim's car--will be discussed in the next post) to create a reasonable scenario that this was a crime.

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

On a final note, I was contacted by someone who has studied the Gricar case intensely and has offered some information that I have not seen available anywhere else online. My plan is to construct a post based on details that this person has graciously provided, and include their commentary on my interpretation of the evidence (I appreciate the alternate views), as well as his/her own ideas regarding the Gricar disappearance.

It should provide for some interesting reading for those that have followed the investigation.


J. J. in Phila said...

There are several things to consider about the tossing of the laptop.

First, could it have been tossed by the driver of the Mini? Mr. Gricar's nephews went to Lewisburg and concluded it was easily possible, physically. The Mini could be stopped briefly or be moving very slowly.

Second, would a witness see it, recognize it for what it was, and remember it? The former lead detective was convinced that Mr. Gricar was alive the next day in Lewisburg; some of the witness reports put Mr. Gricar there in the evening. Tossing it at night, especially late at night, is a possibility. No dwellings are close to the spot so it probably wouldn't be seen by a resident just looking out the window.

Even assuming that there was a potential witness on the bridge, at best they would have a fleeting glimpse of something coming out of a car. The bridge has a walkway, on the other side (the south side). Any pedestrian would have his view blocked by the car.

Since the laptop could have been tossed on 4/15/05, no one even knew it was missing until 4/17/05 and it was not mentioned in the press that it was missing until after 4/19/05, would a witness even remember seeing it?

While I am hugely skeptical about who tossed the laptop and when it was tossed, I have to admit that it is possible that Mr. Gricar tossed it from the Mini on 4/15/05. At best I can say, from the damage, that the laptop was tossed no later than about 7/1/05.