Part XII: Ray Gricar Missing Person

Note: Due to a recent development in the Ray Gricar case that I wanted to mention, I’ll hold my post on the Brianna Maitland case until next week.

After completing my discussion of the Ray Gricar Missing Person case a few weeks ago, I said that I would only return to the unsolved disappearance if something new surfaced. Well, last week it did.

In review, 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 she last heard from him as he 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.

JJ from Phila*, the Ray Gricar blogger for the Centre Daily Times (State College, PA) website, commented a few days ago how police confirmed one of the search terms used on Mr. Gricar’s home computer (different from the laptop recovered from the river) was related to how one could erase a computer’s hard drive in water. Yes, that is what someone searched on Mr. Gricar’s home computer prior to his disappearance and his laptop computer taking a swim.

Now, combine this with another excellent point that JJ previously makes* in describing how Mr. Gricar returned to his office late on the night before he disappeared, and suddenly my well argued (at least I think it was well argued) belief that Mr. Gricar was a crime victim, has much less appeal.

Staying late at work may not seem all that suspicious, until you disappear the next day. But then, why would a powerful individual like the missing man be Googling hard-drive destruction and then his laptop be later found at the bottom of a shallow river?

These added details certainly do not remove the crime victim theory, but for me not to reconsider my explanation and possibly alter my opinion to favor a theory of voluntary missing or suicide would be silly. Ok, I am considering revising my thoughts on the case and lessening the chance that Mr. Gricar was a crime victim.

Outside of him being curious about a criminal case he was studying or unlikely coincidence, I can’t think of a good reason why someone would search Google for information on destroying laptop hard drives in water. Well, whether this is enough to change opinions on which theory is most likely for Mr. Gricar’s disappearance remains to be determined. It certainly does not help to explain how or why the laptop was put in the shallow water near Mr. Gricar’s vehicle--when it probably could have been dumped 1,000+ other places in water, and it would not have been suspicious--likely to be considered as more garbage and ignored.

One important result of the new information is that it means that investigators have a list of other Internet search terms that were pulled from Gricar’s home computer. Wouldn’t it be interesting to get a glimpse at those terms? What may not have appeared as relevant at the time of the evidence collection, could represent a big break in the case now that other information is available.

I read on crime writer Stacy Horn’s blog that another investigative author was recently denied access by investigators to information involving a cold murder case in New York state. Obviously, cooperation levels between police and non-sworn interested persons will vary by case and department.

In my opinion, the Gricar investigation is going nowhere. By releasing the search list, it could represent a chance for the smaller investigating agency to have lots of fresh eyes and perspectives as to what Mr. Gricar's Internet activity could reveal about the case.

If it is determined later to be a crime, the defense for anyone charged, will have access to the search term list anyway, so what do investigators have to lose in releasing a full list of terms (filtered, if necessary)? I doubt Mr. Gricar’s girlfriend at the time would have a problem with the action, and it may lead to someone linking previously unconnected dots.

In the meantime, I’ll be busy reallocating my explanation theories. If Ray Gricar did stage his disappearance, it will be nice to be proven wrong and that no loss of life was involved in this strange case.


You can view all of the post in this series on Ray Gricar by clicking on the "Ray Gricar" keyword to the right of the homepage or by going here.

*Note: To view JJ from Phila's blog, you have to be logged-in, and you can create a free account there by going here.


Sandra G. said...

This is a very interesting case, and I can see why it grabbed your attention.

I'll have to go back and REALLY look at all the information you've posted about Gricar, but it does make for a very good puzzle. Especially the new information about his computer.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Ray's daughter knows where he is. Also, should Ray be declared dead the daughter would receive the cash lump-sum value of Ray's retirement. Police can't really tap any phone belonging to the daughter because she is not suspected of any crime. I strongly suspect that Ray did not want to turn in his lap-top computer to the county. All input regarding crimes was county property and there may also have been gay porno or some other thing on his personal laptap he simply didn't want anyone to see.

Slamdunk said...

Anonymous: I had not heard that about the lump-sum.

With your theory, is it safe to assume that you believe that police simply missed the laptop and hard drive in their multiple searches of the river then?

J. J. in Phila said...

I was just looking through this and noticed Anon's comment.

Yes, Lara Gricar would get a lump sum from his retirement if he would be declared dead. I think it would be in fairly substantial. That would true if he were found dead as well.

As to what was on the lap top, the police said it was unreadable, though Chief Weaver speculated that it was erased prior to tossing.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the clarification JJ.

Hobo said...

I am not really sure what you are getting at by talking about how much money Ray Gricar's daughter would receive if he were declared dead? Why do you think that she knows wher he is, but she is not tealling anyone? I do not beleive that is the case.

Slamdunk said...

@ Hobo: I am not sure what led "Anonymous" to that conclusion. Perhaps, he/she will reappear and post more on that perspective.

Hobo said...

Firstly, I apologize for my last post's typos.

Secondly, it is hard for me to believe that Lara knows anything about her father's disappearance, and I do wish that anonymous would clarify. I went to college and worked with Lara. Although I will not claim to be her friend, it just seems to be a strange assumption to make without further explanation.

Now, the new info about the computer is very interesting.

Slamdunk said...

@ Hobo: The argument that I have heard (though not strong) is that since Ray's daughter took a polygraph once and it showed that she was not being deceptive, and assuming he did leave willingly, that he would then be free to contact her without the threat of another polygraph exam.

JJ over at the Centre Daily Times has covered every aspect of this case, and if you have not read his posts, you can find them on my links to the right of my homepage. He has done a wonderful job with the case.

Anonymous said...

Hi it's Anom again. I believe Lara knows where Ray is because that's the way things work.. Whether it's a murder or a disappearance you always suspect the persons closest to the victim first. My brother-in-law was legally declared dead in FL. but years later was found living at his mother's home in GA. The mother lied and lied. I think the report that Ray researched how to "fry a hard drive" and "water damage to a computer" makes it clear that he was considering those activities. I can't think of any reason to destroy the hard drive except that he didn't want anyone to know what was on it. Ray was supposed to turn in his county issued laptop and for some reason he didn't want anyone to find out what he was doing with his computer. If you don't have a body or a murder weapon in order for him to be abducted he would have had to have his abductors watching the couthouse or make some sort of meeting and bring his laptop (his girlfriend said he never took his laptop to meetings). The reason Lara knows and will not expose her dad is that Ray needs a little retirement money to support himself and Lara has and will have the money. So I follow the money and I think about the research of destroying his computer and I consider what usually happens and I know that no judge will grant a search warrant or wiretap unless there is reasonable cause that a crime was committed, and this is the only solution.

Anonymous said...

The laptop is a central piece in this mystery, whether or not there was information on it which might help explain Ray Gricar's disappearance. The problem is that when all of the published circumstances surrounding the mystery are taken into account together, the laptop can be factored into whatever theory one chooses to consider. Conversely, when considering each particular theory one must, by necessity, adopt a different set of assumptions.

Mind boggling to the public, if not as much so to investigators (with more and better information), that the published "facts" are so fluid, and untimely as well.

J. J. in Phila said...

Anon, I just saw your post regarding how much money his daughter could get.

Currently, she would have access to slightly over $100,000, the amount in his bank accounts.

If Mr. Gricar were to be declared dead, she potentially could get another $300,000 from his pension.

She has made no move to declare him dead.

There are, however, serious questions about Mr. Gricar's assets, or lack thereof.

Anonymous said...

Anon again: Usually in order to have a missing person declared dead a period of seven years is required. No additional money is needed now. I believe Lara is in contact with her dad at least occasionally and considers the money is still her dad's money for retirement. It seems clear that the computer searches for "how to fry a hard drive" makes clear that Ray was planning to destroy the hard drive and his body has never been found, but it's awfully hard to leave the ones you love and support yourself with no money. Most of us agree that it would be hard to walk away from a life long pension, but I don't believe he was leaving any money on the table.

J. J. in Phila said...

Anon, the 7 year wait is a bit of a myth, though it might be more a tradition.

Lara, his daughter, was the $100,000 plus accounts, so she could have access to them immediately.

There are substantial questions about Mr. Gricar's assets. It is possible that he was hiding additional money.

Anonymous said...

Hi man

It is my first time here. I just wanted to say hi!

thedora5 said...

can anyone clarify the relationship between ray gricar and Pattes Sports Bar in wilkes-barre? maybe there was a connection to the illegal gambling there and what ray gricar had on his laptop. maybe him being in the witness protection system isn't too far fetched at all. that could clear up the sightings.