Part XVI: Ray Gricar Missing Person

Ok, as I mentioned earlier this week, here is my Missing Person Monday post a few days late.

Fellow crime blogger JJ in Phila continues to dig into the strange disappearance of Ray Gricar. 

Reading his work, motivated me to post the following on the case.
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Case Summary

Ray Gricar was a district attorney in Central Pennsylvania who mysteriously 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.

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Case Update: About the Witnesses

Unlike some of the other older missing person cases, Ray Gricar's disappearance includes numerous reported sightings of the missing man.  In a two-part guest post earlier this year, JJ detailed many of those witness accounts.

At least twelve persons claim to have seen Mr. Gricar between April 15th and April 18th, 2005.

A colleague and attorney reported to police that she saw him near the courthouse parking lot in the community where he worked.  An off-duty police officer and a bartender told authorities that they believe they saw Mr. Gricar at a restaurant in Wilkes-Barre, PA, a 90-minute drive from where his car was recovered, on April 18, 2005.

Recently, additional information was made public about two citizens who believe they saw Gricar in Michigan a month after he disappeared.

JJ from Phila offers this potential description of the account, known as the Southfield Sighting:

...The date was Friday, May 27, 2005. The place was a restaurant in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, MI. The witness was having dinner with his daughter when he noticed someone who looked vaguely familiar; he couldn’t place the other man and pointed him out to his daughter.

The man was with a woman, but one about 70 years old. The witness even said hello to the man, though the witness couldn’t place where he had seen him before.

When the man returned home, he caught a repeat of a news show about Mr. Gricar, one that showed his photo. The witness instantly recognized that the photo was of the same man he had seen earlier in the day. 
The witness was more than just a run of the mill witness. He was a retired Detroit police officer who also happened to be a composite artist...
If this was Gricar, why Southfield?  Why would he be drinking beers at a chain restaurant in Wilkes-Barre?

JJ has some interesting thoughts as to the Southfield Sighting, but I wanted to make one observation.

The more credible witnesses that authorities have documented in the case file, the more likely it is that Ray Gricar left his life in Pennsylvania voluntarily.  

Does it eliminate the other explanations for Gricar's disappearance like crime or suicide victim? 

Certainly not, but an unmarried man nearing retirement, with an adult child who lives in another state, and who seemingly had lots of ends tied-up prior to vanishing, could have fled PA to start fresh somewhere else using a different identity.

Back in April, I modified my percentages as to what I believe happened to Mr. Gricar--showing voluntary disappearance to be the most likely explanation (based on what is known by the public):
Left Willingly: 49%


Crime Victim: 44%


Suicide or Other: 7%

I still view Gricar being the victim of a crime as a reasonable possibility, but in my opinion, any of the latest information released about Gricar's disappearance, has only further supported theories that he is alive and chose to leave.

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Photo credit.

Previous posts on Ray Gricar can be accessed here.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting post here. I'm with you....the guy started a new life.

Thanks for visiting LBeeeze!!

J. J. in Phila said...

I'm not quite ready to say that Mr. Gricar departed voluntarily. I give it a 50/50 chance that he walked away.

I do agree with Slamdunk, in general. The more credible witnesses that come out, the more likely it is that he walked away.

If the "Southfield sighting" is correct, Mr. Gricar walked away. That, however, is a very big if.

Brian Miller said...

this is intriguing...makes me think of that grisham novel abou tth elawyer that faked his death...

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

Hmm...very interesting! I love your Missing Person posts but I always want to know-what happened to them!?! If he was so close to retirement, why wouldn't he just wait and take his money and retirement to start over AFTER that?

Sister Copinherhair said...

I had forgotten about this story until now. My opinion is he's alive and well.

On a side note, I once met a Wilkes-Barre police officer. He was cute...until he told me he liked to swing. And we are not talking about the kind you find on a playground. So my question is at what kind of bar and/or restaurant were the bartender and off duty police officer? Hmm?

And wouldn't THAT be an interesting twist in the case? ;)

SoccerMom said...

I think he left on his own free will.

I can tell you that I am no one special and because of pressures and stress at home I have considered leaving more than once.

J. J. in Phila said...

Sister, the police officer was not from Wilkes-Barre. He was from south eastern PA and was in town at a family event.

From what has been hinted at, the bar was in a restaurant and the officer was there with family members.

The location may have been a Bennigan's.

I'm still very much undecided on what happened.

Momma Fargo said...

Very interesting case. We may never know until we find a body...dead or alive.

Oz Girl said...

I certainly don't know what Ray's personal life situation was, but with the economy and the nation in the disarray it is in, I would not be the least surprised at those who choose to vacate their current life and start anew somewhere else.

If I would have still been in Ohio and at the same crappy job this year, I might have disappeared myself! ;-)

SuziCate said...

I vaguely remember hearing about that. Sounds most likely that he walked away from his life to start a new one that is if the sightings were indeed him.

Krista said...

What a fascinating story! I am always intrigued by a person walking away and starting a new life. My feeling is that is what happened here.

Hope you are having an awesome day!

obladi oblada said...

The fact that the one witness was a composite artist is what has me sold that this man just walked away.

Kristin said...

I always find it so bizarre when people choose to walk away from their life.

kathryn said...

I can't help but wonder, though. If the guy had a GF and has a child, wudn't he reach out to them sooner or later? How callous can he be to just ditch them forever??

I'm further frustrated by the lack of people's ability to click a photo with their cell. Is there ANY cell that doesn't include a camera?? I've surreptitiously photographed several people without their knowledge...(Did I say that out loud?)

J. J. in Phila said...

Katheryn, I can understand it.

At some point the family may petition to declare Mr. Gricar dead. Part of that will be going into court and swearing, under penalty of perjury, that he has not contacted them.

If he contacts them, they go to court, perjure themselves, and are caught, they could go to jail. I cannot imagine a good father putting his daughter in that position.

BobKat said...

I'm still bothered by the fact that "someone" took the time to disassemble the laptop. I repeat, you spoke of reference I believe to a search conducted on Mr. Gricar's home computer re: "how to destroy a hard-drive", or something to that effect. I recall sending you information on the complexity of removing the HD on a laptop. And why bother??? Simply throwing a laptop or HD in a river will not destroy it... although it will make the laptop useless. If he met with foul-play, I doubt the perp would take the time. Which makes me think, Mr. Gricar, did so himself to provoke confusion.

However... as "My Husband watching TV" pointed out he was near to retirement. So my question is: given what he could do with what money he'd receive in retirement, what incentive did he have to part with that money? The key word there is INCENTIVE!

J. J. in Phila said...

BobKat, from Gricar's nephew Tony's description, the drive could be removed by loosening one screw and sliding it out.

There are two possibilities, one which points to walkaway and one which points to murder.

I have never regarded the searches and removing the laptop's drive is strongly pointing to one theory.

ladyfi said...

Perhaps he wanted to start anew. Still, it's awfully worrying for those left behind.

jodeeluna said...

Another fascinating post. I really enjoy these missing person features you do. Maybe I have a bit of an investigator in me as well? NOT! I'm just a Slam Dunks fan.

BobKat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BobKat said...

Thanks J.J...

Don't suppose you know what model laptop he had? I've never known of one that's easy as that to remove the HD.

As to whether that bit of evidence leads one way or another I'm still undecided myself.

Thanks

J. J. in Phila said...

BobKat, the computer brand was a Micron laptop.

I do not know the model number, but a photo of it is here:

http://www.post-gazette.com/images3/20050802wap_laptop_580.jpg

carma said...

veddy interesting. Some days I'm tempted to do the same thing...what were the odds of him bumping into a composite artist! And why no sightings since 2005 (if I read correctly)

J. J. in Phila said...

Carma, one possibility is that he was out of the country. The Southfield sighting is about 20-30 minutes from the Canadian Border.

It was also within 4 miles (possibly much closer) to the Consulate of the Republic of Macedonia, a former Yugoslavian republic. The Gricar family was from Slovenia, another former Yugoslavian republic. Mr. Gricar had vacationed in Slovenia and had distant cousin's there.

I've heard that the "family photos" in his office included those Slovenian relatives.

BobKat said...

J.J.

Thanks for the link to the photo of the laptop. I spent about an hour trying to research that brand, but it's one of the earliest types of laptop PC. The HD is definitely history. It was effectively "destroyed" from what I can see.

I sent follow-up to Slam Dunk and asked him to forwards my opinion to you.

Thanks Very Much for the link!

BobKat

BobKat said...

J.J.

Sorry - must be over-worked... I had 1995 stuck in my head and sure enough, it's 2005 Mr. Gricar disappeared. I have dial-up internet so everything takes so long, it drives me crazy. I should find what I'm looking for today. Thanks again for the link!

BobKat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. J. in Phila said...

Bob, I have a dial-up as well. :)

Just knowing how long computers last, my guess is that the laptop was purchased after 2000. A drive lasting five years is exceptional.

I'll post my blog e-mail in a separate post. I don't know if SD permits it or not.

J. J. in Phila said...

BobKat, here is my blog e-mail:

scorg@live.com

J. J. in Phila said...

BobKat, though the author is not the ideal source, the Micron was purchased about a year prior to Mr. Gricar's departure.

http://www.yardbird.com/midnight_ride_gricars_laptop_found.htm

He also mentioned the "slide out" possibility. Tony Gricar said the same thing, so it looks legitimate.

Anonymous said...

He could've been murdered and the actual HD not found. Perp disposes of the body but keeps the laptop. Perp pulls the HD and ditches the laptop later to confuse police. Perp plants a different HD later yet for same reason.

J. J. in Phila said...

It is gigantically unlikely that a "perp" could have somehow convinced Mr. Gricar to talk to others about how to destroy the data, or do searches on how to destroy a drive.

It is very likely that Mr. Gricar is the one who tossed the drive.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your extensive coverage of this case slamdunk. In reading about it I don't believe Gricar tossed the HD unless he remained in the area for several weeks or returned to the area much later.

With all due respect to J. J. in Phila, I also noted that his notions don't stand up to public scrutiny. It sure is a mystery though! Thanks again.

BobKat said...

J.J...

Thanks for the links... will check them out!

Anonymous... Your theory doesn't hold water and to explain why would take too long. According to the Timeline of Events, police found Mr. Gricar searched for ways to destroy a HD. As an attorney, he may have been working on a case, or, he needed to destroy a HD for personal reasons.

A perp didn't do the research, and unless we're talking "organized syndicate" here, and maybe we are, a perp probably would have put the small hard-drive (HD) in his pocket, and tossed the laptop. Meaning, the HD would not have been found near to the laptop, but it was.

I have a feeling Mr. Gricar was being stalked and was determined to protect his family.

J. J. in Phila said...

Anonymous, as noted, Mr. Gricar did talk to people about how to destroy the data on the drive. I who who one is, and it was not the county IT guy anyone on his staff or his nephew, who own an IT company. It was soon after he got the laptop.

Obviously, there was something on the laptop that Mr. Gricar never wanted to see the light of day.

Now, unless you are suggesting that "prep" hypnotized him about a year before to ask these questions or that there is a massive conspiracy, they more than hold up.

The police also reported that he did the searches on how to destroy a hard drive, which would have the same effect of destroying the data. That was 11-18 months later.

Anonymous said...

The hard drive to Gricar's computer has not been found.

Slamdunk said...

@ Anonymous 9/18/10: Thanks for your comment.

If you are referring to the hard drive of Mr. Gricar's laptop, authorities reported that it was recovered in the Susquehanna River in OCT 2005.

One article stating this can be found here.

Anonymous said...

Several searches of the river between April and July failed to produce his laptop, so it's unlikely that Gricar was the one who put it there. Additional searches July to October failed to produce the hard drive, so it's unlikely that Gricar was the one who put it there. It's far more likely that the entire scene was staged to make it appear that Gricar was there. There's no evidence that Gricar was even there.

Anonymous said...

The hard drive to Gricar's computer has not been found. A compatible hard drive was found nearly 6 months later in an area which had been repeatedly searched. That drive has not been connected to Gricar's computer.

Anonymous said...

I would think that you slamdunk, as a former police officer, would understand the PR put out in this case. Maybe I'm wrong about that though.

Slamdunk said...

@ Anonymous 9/18/10: Ok, that is a reasonable contention on the recovered drive (what has been released by authorities). From the initial comment, I was not certain where you were going with the argument.

Anonymous said...

JJ has assumed certain things to be true in this case. I (and you as a former police officer) know to hold him (and the press) at arm's length.

Anonymous said...

JJ is a good guy --- a pastor's son and all that --- but he doesn't understand the difference between actual evidence and newspaper pulp.

Anonymous said...

A long while back I told you why I believe Gricar was likely a victim, as opposed to an actor. I guess it didn't impress you. Go figure!

J. J. in Phila said...

Anonymous, there is a deal of evidence that Mr. Gricar was Lewisburg on 4/15/05, including a minimum of 8 witnesses, and some physical evidence of his presence. That point was made by Slamdunk, in general, in this entry.

My understanding is that the initial water searches did look at the area where the laptop was found and that it could have been missed.

No one realized that a separated drive could have been in the water until after the laptop was found. The drive was well upstream from where the laptop was found, so it is questionable if the police looked there in their single post July 30 search.

The drive itself is rather small, about the size of two packs of cigarettes. It was under muddy water in an area with debris. It very easily could have been missed.

Anonymous said...

Great roundup of information and I think if that officer was worth his salt as a composite artist then he more than likely saw the Ghost of Ray Gricar.

75% Walkaway for me.
12 and 12 for murder and suicide.

This seems like one of the best walkaways I've seen in my years of looking at these cases.
If he wasn't as high profile as he is it would have been even easier for him. He's out there somewhere enjoying a life and/or lifestyle he couldn't while in PA.

Slamdunk said...

@ Anonymous 11/22: Thanks for your comment and sorry about my delayed response.

Yes, the more info that trickles out to the public about this case just seems to add to the runaway theory.

Anonymous said...

There was no crime scene where his car was found and there's no ongoing threat to public safety. So law enforcement has no obligation to provide any info in regard to its investigation of foul play. And since running away, of itself, isn't a crime, I think there's a very good chance that the info which has trickled out about this case is just a smoke screen.