Part XI: Ray Gricar Missing Person

This is my eleventh (am I long-winded or what) and last planned post on the Ray Gricar missing person case. 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 was driving on a local highway. His car was found abandoned the next day in a town about an hour east of his home, and his laptop computer was later recovered submerged under a bridge near his parked vehicle.

In previous discussions, I stated that the two most probable general theories to explain Mr. Gricar’s disappearance are that he was the victim of a crime or that he voluntarily went missing. Based on what is currently public information, I have argued that crime victim is slightly more likely considering two details of the case--the recovered locations of the laptop computer and hard drive and the fact that someone was evidently inside Mr. Gricar’s vehicle smoking-—something that he reportedly would not have likely permitted.

Now, if I argue that Mr. Gricar met with foul play, I’ll need to take an educated guess as to where to find evidence of such an act—and that is the purpose of this post. If Mr. Gricar was a crime victim, where is a likely place to look to help bring a resolution to the case?

Before I start with my thoughts, I want to say that I have no connection to the investigation. Authorities may have searched the area that I describe comprehensively and found nothing –either initially or in subsequent follow-ups. I can say that I have not seen any mention of police searching this specific location as reported by the press. With that in mind, here goes…

For persons to have hidden a body, they likely would have selected a secluded yet convenient area. For long-term secrecy, persons would prefer a location that would be away from the general public; especially hunting and fishing enthusiasts. Note: This also leaves open the possibility that persons selected a location to conceal a crime without knowing that it represented a good place to hide the act over the long-term .

Since it can be argued that Mr. Gricar’s laptop was thrown from a vehicle off of the Lewisburg Bridge, from this perspective, it also then makes sense to believe that the subjects may have been returning from disposing the body and were driving west on Rt. 45 when crossing the bridge.

As a result, the location of any crime scene would be more likely to be east of Lewisburg-—and perhaps, not far at all. Further, considering that the computer was dumped so close to the recovered vehicle location, it may mean that the subjects were trying to flee hastily—perhaps after dumping the body very nearby.

That leads to a question: if the body was hidden nearby why has it not been found? Is there somewhere close that would not be frequented by hikers, hunters, and persons carrying fishing rods? I say emphatically “yes”—there is one location that meets all of these descriptors mentioned and it is called the Montandon Marsh.

The Marsh consists of 500 acres of wetlands (77 acres are protected) and is adjacent to Rt. 45 approximately 3/10 of a mile east of the Lewisburg Bridge. The property consists of sand dunes interspersed with swamps and marshes, at least two ponds, and vehicular traffic on its access road is restricted by an iron gate (Note: I am only familiar with the primary access road—there may be another way into the area via vehicle).

The Marsh is owned by Central Builders Supply who mines sand and gravel from the site. Hunting and fishing is not open to the public on the lands, and the acres are bordered by Rt. 405 to the west and a trailer park on the east.

A local university has several on-going educational projects at the Marsh, but the foot traffic to the area is negligible. As one can imagine with faculty and students, they are not consistently roaming the wetlands, but rather collecting soil samples, retrieving measurement information, and performing other low-impact activities so as not to disturb local wildlife. As a result, these folks are not trampling all over the land. The quarry part of the Marsh experiences much more daytime activity—as trucks and workers are present during the week.

This is how scientists describe the Marsh:

Montandon Marsh is one of the few remaining diverse riparian wetlands ecosystems in central Pennsylvania, along the west branch of the Susquehanna River. Its environmental significance has been hailed by local and regional conservancy groups because of its role as a refuge for migratory waterfowl, as a permanent home for many wetlands birds, and as home to the rare spade-foot toad.

Marsh plant communities are diverse; containing sundew, sphagnum, and cranberry characteristic of Pocono bogs, while it is also home to bulrush and sedge communities normally found on the Atlantic coastal plain.
An aerial view of the quarry and protected marshland can be viewed here.

Could subjects have accessed the Montandon Marsh area in the dark and hidden a body? How frequently is the access gate locked to the property? Was anything unusual noticed in the weeks before and after Mr. Gricar’s disappearance? Was this area searched? Did the university have many projects active during the summer immediately after the disappearance?

Unfortunately, I do not know the answers to these questions, but the presence of a private area of sand hills and swamplands so close to the Lewisburg Bridge that would offer limited to no visibility from the Rt. 45 (in my opinion) should make the Marsh an area of interest for authorities.

One final note on the Marsh—Gricar case follower FD who participated in my question and answer session Part X mentioned something interesting in an email regarding the recovered locations of evidence/items from the Gricar case. He stated something to the effect that the locations of the recovered car, the hard drive, and the computer almost seem to represent a line of bread crumbs moving from west to east.

If one continues with that thinking, further evidence/items of the case should be found east of and in close proximity to the Lewisburg Bridge—again, this is consistent with the location of the swampy area less than ½ mile east of the parked car site known as the Montandon Marsh.

And that is all for now on the RG case...

Continuing in my missing person series, the next investigation that I will discuss is the sad yet fascinating case of Brianna Maitland-—a young woman who disappeared from Vermont in 2004. Her case remains unsolved.

To see Part X on this case or to view a list of other postings, go here.


J. J. in Phila said...

I think this entry might one of the most important.