Part XV: Ray Gricar Missing Person

I was out of town for the Easter holiday, so my second post on the Christine Walters case will have to wait until next week--my apologies.

In any event, there was a new development in the Ray Gricar missing person case that I wanted to mention...


Case Summary

Ray Gricar was a district attorney in Central Pennsylvania who 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 where his vehicle had been parked.

In addition, Gricar's hard drive was found months after the car and computer were recovered--submerged in the same river area.


Case Update

Centre Daily Times (State College, PA) blogger on the Ray Gricar case, JJ in Phila, sent me the following link regarding the release of new information:

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks-Miller confirmed...that a review board has been formed to investigate the disappearance of former District Attorney Ray Gricar in 2005.

According to investigators, the last confirmed sighting of Gricar was in a parking lot outside a Lewisburg antique shop on April 15, 2005.

Parks-Miller said she recently reviewed the entire police report before launching the new task force.

“I personally don’t think it was homicide,” said Parks-Miller. “I can tell you, what the public was told was the tip of the iceberg.”

Despite hundreds of tips and sightings reported to authorities, investigators are still unable to determine if the case is a homicide, suicide or if the former D.A. simply left the area of his own will...

Last April, a family spokesman said new information casts doubt on whether foul play was involved in Gricar's disappearance.

Bellefonte Police Detective Matthew Rickard said that before Gricar disappeared, he used his home computer to search for information on "how to wreck a hard drive" and "water damage to a notebook computer."

Gricar's laptop was later found in the Susquehanna River...

But a friend, Montour County District Attorney Bob Buehner, said at that time that he still thinks Gricar was murdered. He said Gricar could have done the research because somebody wanted what was on his computer.
When the information was released last year that Mr. Gricar had electronically searched how to destroy his hard drive before disappearing, I stated that this had reduced my confidence in believing that he was a crime victim.

Newly elected District Attorney Parks-Miller's comment that, after reading the case file, she now doubts that the Gricar disappearance can be explained as a homicide, is telling as well.

In the coming months, there will certainly be new information released to the public about the case--and I am guessing that it will further support non-crime explanations.

Though I have not dismissed any of the relevant theories as to what happened to Ray Gricar, I did update the "likelihood" percentages:

Left Willingly: 49%

Crime Victim: 44%

Suicide or Other : 7%
JJ continues to provide in-depth coverage of the Gricar disappearance and has some additional thoughts on what he would like to see authorities do in this case.


Previous posts on the Gricar case are here.


UPDATE 4/7/2010

To better clarify District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller's recent comments on the Gricar case, JJ and an anonymous commenter both provided this story.

At the link, Parks Miller states:

“I’m not going to substitute my opinion for an investigation that’s just being revived again,” she said. “The only thing I will say is that I believe homicide is the least likely, but we rule out nothing.”
A professional who has now studied the case file, and believes explanations other than homicide are more likely to explain Gricar's disappearance--now, as an outsider, that is meaningful to me.


kathryn said...

Interesting. It does make you wonder about foul play if he was looking to trash his computer. I'll assume someone's looked into the reasons he may have had for wanting to just disappear, or start over somewhere...

J. J. in Phila said...

Those percentages are very close to mine. I actually rank both "Crime Victim" and "Left Willingly" slightly less than you do.

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Maybe he was ditching the laptop when the "bad people" caught him and then foul play was introduced...maybe I also watch too much Law & Order.

Anonymous said...

What Parks Miller actually said was she beieves homicide is the least likely but rules nothing out. Also she doesn't want her personal view to influence the review board she'd just assembled. And she said she won't be discussing the specifics of the investigation further unless it is credible information.

Stephanie Faris said...

Were there reasons he might want to disappear? Owing a lot of money, for instance? Motive seems to me to be everything in something like that.

Matthew Rush said...

Hi Slam Dunks, I stopped by after seeing your comment at my blog. I've become a follower, don't forget to do the same for mine if you want to get updates in your dashboard.

T. Anne said...

FAscinating. It makes my mind tick when I think of the possibility someone would disappear on their own volition. I'm morbidly enjoying your posts!

Aphrodite's Mortal Friend (ME) said...

Every Monday I find these posts riviting- it just seems so unbelievable that a grown man can go missing like that! It's so hard for me to comprehend ... anyway, hope you're root root rootin' for the Bulldogs tonight! My husband will bea t teh game while I am sleeping preparing my mind for my first day back at work ;-)

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Hi Slamdunk - I'm a relatively new reader and this is one of your first missing person posts that I've seen. I appreciate the even-handed way you address the case.

Momma Fargo said...

Very interesting. I am siding with your thoughts.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the comments all.

@ Kathryn & Stephanie: Good thought/question. Mr. Gricar was about to retire, had surprisingly few assets and cash on hand for a guy with an excellent paying job, his daughter is an adult living in another state, and was unmarried with a live-in girl-friend at the time of his disappearance. So, it can be argued that he was not well connected to his community.

@ MyHusband...: When arguing the crime theory, one would generally include something like that.

@ Matthew: Will do.

@ APM: Ha, watching the game now.

@ T. Anne & Kristen: I appreciate the feedback.

@ Anonymous: If you send me a link with a better description of the DA's feelings, I'll add that information to the post.

Anonymous said...

Review board lends new eyes to Ray Gricar search, Centre Daily Times, April 1, 2010.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks anonymous and JJ for the link. I updated the entry and reposted it with the story.

J. J. in Phila said...

I think the print story on WJAC was a bit misleading. The "tip of the iceberg" referred to the police investigation, i.e., what the police have done in the case. I did look at the investigation and called the first 48 hours "textbook."

It might be telling that, after looking through the files, with an apparent degree of thoroughness, that Ms. Parks Miller didn't find anything that obviously pointed to foul play.

Anonymous said...

Why would someone with a degree and promising career just leave - he was retiring in December. If he is still alive - how is he supporting himself? Is he a man that would give up his career, his daughter that he had a close relationship with? From reading several articles - I doubt he would do either of the previous mentioned. It's quite possible that someone didn't want Ray Gricar's details of a case, etc. available to others.

BS in Houston said...

Great comments here. My gut tells me that this is a case of foul play. I say this because Mr. Gricar does not appear to be someone who would break ties with his daughter. I think if anything was going on with him as far as his job goes, that he'd face it head on, not run.

J. J. in Phila said...

Anonymous, I just noted your February 5th comment.

Mr. Gricar had not run for re-election and would be leaving office in 12/05. He had also indicated, publicly, that he would be practicing law after that. There were no career issues.

Any information he had regarding cases would be on file at the office. His office computer was intact and nothing was missing.

Anonymous said...

If I were the DA looking into possibly corrupt public officials with ties to criminal organizations, I would not leave that information on my office computer or anywhere near the office for that matter.

Slamdunk said...

@ Anonymous on 7/27: Thanks for your comment. RG certainly could have used several computers to research sensitive topics, and hopefully authorities have explored this.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Mr. Gricar has a passport? If so, were there any places he visited more than once? I believe it's possible he could have been mixed up in something that he didn't want to bring disgrace upon his family or reputation and just started a new life in another country; possibly the Philippines.