Note: My missing person post for Monday is being moved to today because I wanted to link a piece on the Ray Gricar missing person case.
Fellow blogger JJ graciously allowed me to be a guest contributor over at his blog on the Centre Daily Times (State College, PA newspaper which is also home to Penn State University) website.
JJ has been discussing the Gricar case for years now and is very well versed in the matter. He has also posted his opinions regarding the investigation on this blog as well.
The question posed to me was what can police do to jumpstart the Ray Gricar missing person case.
In summary of the Gricar case—he 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 last spoke to her via cell phone while 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.
Here is part of my response on JJ's site:
Recommendation #3: Try these unconventional methods to generate new leads:
1) Mr. Gricar was a vocal supporter of the Cleveland Indians and had attended professional baseball games in the past. If he is using an assumed identity, it is reasonable that he may attend major league games. Police could contact officials with Major League Baseball and gain their support in distributing Ray Gricar Missing Person flyers at baseball stadiums. For all the venues or at select stadiums, a public service announcement could be made regarding the case—displaying a photo, any related reward money available, and the contact information for the investigating agency.
2) In general, human beings are creatures of habit. This applies to computer activity habits as well. Most of us use one or two user names and passwords for all of our computer accounts.
If Mr. Gricar used a handful of unique user names and passwords for his computer activities, authorities could use this information to search other online accounts for matching credentials. For instance, if Mr. Gricar regularly used the user name “DisplacedTribeFan00” with the password “lovebellefonte”, common search engines could be used to see if those names appear elsewhere on the Internet. In addition, police could search for that user name or a similar combination being used with a Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL email account (this would require extra hoop jumping but I believe is worth a try).
3) Release what information exists (in a sanitized format) related to Mr. Gricar’s computer activity prior to his disappearance including search terms and browsing history. What may appear as irrelevant to one or two people, might be considered important in developing new leads when viewed by other individuals.
4) Release details in the State Police report as to why the investigator believed that Mr. Gricar was likely a suicide victim. Most of the persons who have followed the case through the publicly accessible information rank suicide behind crime victim and voluntary disappearance scenarios.
What did this investigator consider in his/her decision that pushed suicide to the front of likely explanations for Gricar’s disappearance?
5) Maintain a regular dialogue with technical data recovery specialists. Just because the submerged hard drive has been examined twice using mid-2000s technology, does not mean that someone 5 or 10 years later will not be innovative enough to recover data from Gricar’s formerly submerged drive.
There is more over at JJ's blog. To view the full post, you have to an account on the newspapers website which can be done here.
To access previous posts on Ray Gricar go to the left and click on the "Ray Gricar" keyword.