PA PA - Ray Gricar, 59, former district attorney, Bellefonte, 15 Apr 2005 - #17

J. J. in Phila

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SeekingJana

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Last thread ( the megathread) received 132,000+ views.
What the numbers say to me is that this case is not dead. There is ongoing interest and discussion, just no new case info for us.

For those who may be new to the case, or would like a fairly quick refresher, here is a basic outline of the case FACTS:

Mr. Ray Frank Gricar, DOB 10/9/ 1945, was first elected District Attorney in 1985, and had been re-elected four times since then. Prior to becoming District Attorney, he had served as an assistant district attorney for about five years, in Centre County, and about ten years in his home state of Ohio. He was a graduate of Case Western Law School and licensed as a J.D. in Ohio, then transferred to PA with his first wife, Barbara Gray, a professor at Pennsylvania State University ( PSU).

In January 2004, he announced he would not seek re-election and retire from the practice of law at the end of his term, which would be upcoming in December of 2005. He planned to retire as a District Attorney at the age of 60 years, with 30 plus total years of service in the D.A.'s offices

On 4/15/05, he decided to the day off work, and it should be noted that this was not extremely unusual for him at this time with a mature A.D.A. staff in place as he neared his 30 year mark and his upcoming retirement.

He called his girlfriend, who was also a Centre County courthouse employee, Patty Fornicola, at about 11:15-30 AM from the Centre Hall area as per his cell phone pings to the tower in the area. From her statements, we are told that he said that he was on Route 192, heading toward Lewisburg, and that he wouldn’t be able to walk the dog that afternoon. The dog was Patty's and was elderly with special care needs. That was the last reported contact with anyone who knew him.

Possible sightings on April 15, 2005: A Courthouse worker who was in in Centre Hall said they saw Mr. Gricar turn on Route 192, heading in the direction of Lewisburg.
Sometime between Noon and 2:00 PM, at least three witnesses, including Jennifer Snyder, an employee at the Packwood House Museum, saw Mr. Gricar parked along Water Street, just off of Market Street (Route 45), in Lewisburg. He was the car he was driving, a red 2004 Mini Cooper, between the three spaces across from the museum.
At 3:00 PM, back in Bellefonte, Carolyn Fenton, a law clerk to Judge David Grine, saw Mr. Gricar in a different car, behind the Courthouse. No one corroborated this sighting. Judge Grine could not remember if it was 4/14 or 4/15.
Sometime between 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM, a man driving to Harrisburg from Lock Haven, pulled parallel to a red Mini Cooper near the Country Cupboard on Route 15, just north of Lewisburg. He remembered what the driver looked like. When he saw the story in the newspaper, he recognized Mr. Gricar’s photo.

At about 5:00 PM on April 15, 2005, several adults with no relationship to each other or Mr. Gricar in Lewisburg, PA, reported seeing the Mini Cooper arrive at the parking lot across from the Street of Shop. At least two saw Mr. Gricar carefully choosing a parking space for his brand new shiny Mini Cooper with the personalized license plated " PFo" for his girlfriend's name, Patty Fornicola, as the car was legally hers. There are many photos of the car online. It was bright red, with white wheels and a white top. Standard Mini Cooper, not a convertible or a Clubsman.

Sometime after that, two business owners in the Street of Shops ( common abbrev. SOS) , Brad Alvey and an unidentified vendor, saw Mr. Gricar in the Street of Shops. One saw him with a woman; it looked like they were together to the vendor. The woman was described by LE years later as being tall, slender, neat, in her 40's perhaps, with dark hair. Their demeanor has been described by witnesses as " casually strolling" through the Street of Shops building or buildings. There was no sense of alarm or of urgency noted by witnesses, and some are not at all sure the two were actually together but may have crossed paths in the mall type layout of shops a few times.

Around 11:00 PM that evening, an apparently concerned and worried Patty Fornicola called the police after she'd spent 2 hours at the YMCA, exercising, she said. Within an hour, there was a BOLO code ( which is short for Be On the Look Out) issued on Mr. Gricar. They were looking for the missing District Attorney early and in what is believed to be a wide area, because Patty was able to tell them where Ray said he was calling from in his drive to Lewisburg.

April 16th AM- By the next morning, the Bellefonte Police began calling his friends and co-workers. They also checked his cell phone records and determined that the call was carried by the tower in the Brush Valley area.

On 4/16/05, between 11:30 AM and Noon, two workers in the Street of Shops have reported seeing Ray Gricar there. No mention of the mystery woman with him on the 16th as far as I know.

Around 12:00 PM, the Street of Shops ( or SOS) owner, Craig Bennett, saw him standing on the premises and recognized him. Anecdotally, as to why Mr. Gricar would have an interest in the Street Of Shops building, it is noted that Mr. Gricar is said to have had a hobby of shopping in the antique vendors' booths for antique toys. We do not know the size of the toys he bought and collected nor the genre nor the type: e.g., trains, puzzles, stuffed animals, vintage car model kits, or other. Patty Fornicola has said he collected antique toys as well.

ONE photo I posted at the end of Part 15 this discussion thread is of Patty F.'s house as it appeared when for sale in 2015 ( definitely not professionally staged and decorated but with her furnishings in place) shows what appear to be smallish non- china or glass figurines on top of the china cabinet. Patty was short, Ray was not. I believe these are carved small wooden toys, as there does appear to be painted color on some of them. This leads credence to the presence of small wooden toys in their shared home.
This is all the information that has been released regarding witnesses to Ray Gricar's activities for both days, April 15th and April 16th, 2005.

The searches began on April 16, 2005:
The police began to search for the missing District Attorney in sections of the Brush Valley area, along Route 192, in the afternoon of April 16, 2oo5. This included an aerial search.
At about 6:30 PM, April 16th, the Mini Cooper was discovered by a State Police officer in the parking lot at the Street of Shops, parked on the first row, far end. Mr. Gricar’s cell phone and a water bottle containing no foreign DNA, just his, was inside. There was a trace of cigarette ash found by investigators on the passenger side floor, and when the locked doors were first opened, there was the scent of cigarette smoke. Mr. Gricar, as a non smoker, did not like smoking in his car.
The car was taken to the State Police Barracks in Milton for evidence processing. The PSP has revealed that the car was negative for foreign DNA or foreign non-smudged fingerprints. Ray's fingerprints and DNA were found, and there were smudged fingerprints and a smudged palm print found when the car was processed forensically and released very soon afterwards to Ms. Fornicola.

On 4/17/05, the Susquehanna River was searched from the air. A bloodhound was brought in, in the late morning. The dog detected Mr. Gricar’s scent in the parking lot, but not beyond. It stopped and circled; the handler thought it was indicative of Mr. Gricar getting into another car.

On 4/18/05, there was the famous, or perhaps infamous, news conference with Ms. Fornicola and Mr. Gricar’s daughter, Lara. Photos from the shared press conference show the 2 older women in conversation. They could be sisters, they looked so much alike at that time.
Shortly afterwards, there was a witness sighting in Wilkes-Barre, PA, which was ruled out as being Mr. Gricar.
There was also a witness sighting in May 2005, in Southfield, MI. There were several others, but they have been discounted. The Southfield, MI, sighting was never ruled on at all, and there is possibly a mystery connection to the area for Mr. Gricar. ( the mystery is not case fact but years of speculation).

In late July of 2005, Mr. Gricar’s laptop, minus the hard drive, was found in the water on the northern side of the bridge in Lewisburg; the side without a walking area and, if dropped from a car, the car would be heading toward Lewisburg (and also towards Bellefonte).

Also in July, 2005, Ms. Fornicola was polygraphed; in September that year, Lara Gricar was polygraphed. News releases say they were asked if they knew the whereabouts of Ray Gricar. Both passed. ( This means: Neither knew the whereabouts of Ray Gricar at that time). We do not know if they were asked any other question or if any polygraph has been administered to any other relative or close friend at that time or at any time since.

In September 2005, the drive that fit the computer was found on the shoreline of the Susquehanna across the park from the Packwood House. No data could be recovered from it due to corrosion from the water and erosion from soil particles and debris getting into the drive casing.

In April of 2009 the police released information that Gricar had been doing searches on his home computer for "how to destroy a hard drive" "and similar terms in the months prior to his disappearance.

In May of 2011, Lara Gricar petitioned to her father declared dead; the petition was granted in July of 2011.

End of timeline of known events.

Additional footnotes: Note the absence of a memorial service or any permanent marker for legally dead Mr. Gricar. There is no memorial of any type, not a community service with a cemetery marker, nor even a very appropriate bronze plaque remembering his service in the Bellefonte city park where he and Patty used to eat lunch on sunny days.

There have never been any reports of any bank account activity by Mr. Gricar or reports of his social security number being used post 4/15/2005. Sightings from around the US have been ruled out, including one in Texas at a dubious quality chain restaurant, and one John Doe in prison in a western state was presented by concerned citizens for comparison to Ray Gricar ( I am not aware of the specifics) . The man was not Ray Gricar.

As far as we know today, 13 years and 6 months past, he disappeared from Lewisburg either on April 15, 2005, or by mid-day April 16th, 2005. The last confirmed voice contact by his girlfriend at the time was his call in to the court house on April 15, 2005, at around 11: 30 AM.
There is NO video footage known to exist of him on April 15th, 2o05, or beyond
 

BryanHall

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Has anyone ever considered that this may have been an accidental drowning? Let's just say he has some innocuous, but embarrassing *advertiser censored* on his hard drive. He decides he wants to dispose of the problem in some way. He takes his computer apart and throws it into two different areas of the river. On the way back he slips on a rock, falls into the river, and drowns. His body gets washed away to get ground up by the dam, unlike the computer and hard drive. It's the only theory that doesn't involve a huge conspiracy to tie it together.
 

J. J. in Phila

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Has anyone ever considered that this may have been an accidental drowning? Let's just say he has some innocuous, but embarrassing *advertiser censored* on his hard drive. He decides he wants to dispose of the problem in some way. He takes his computer apart and throws it into two different areas of the river. On the way back he slips on a rock, falls into the river, and drowns. His body gets washed away to get ground up by the dam, unlike the computer and hard drive. It's the only theory that doesn't involve a huge conspiracy to tie it together.

Yes.

I have considered than an accident was possible, even coupled with a health problem. I was looking at something like having a heart attack and falling into the water.

The problem with that theory is I cannot find a record of any body not being recovered from that branch of the Susquehanna. In 2008?, two children were drowned in the Susquehanna. They went in about 200 yards downstream from the bridge. They were found about 200 yards downstream in less than 36 hours. The search was not nearly as great.
 

BryanHall

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Yes.

I have considered than an accident was possible, even coupled with a health problem. I was looking at something like having a heart attack and falling into the water.

The problem with that theory is I cannot find a record of any body not being recovered from that branch of the Susquehanna. In 2008?, two children were drowned in the Susquehanna. They went in about 200 yards downstream from the bridge. They were found about 200 yards downstream in less than 36 hours. The search was not nearly as great.

Bodies of two children found in Susquehanna

If this is the incident you are referring to, it occurred in August when the river was far more likely to be at a lower level than in April. I'm not saying that theory makes sense since I don't know how the level would fluctuate during spring/summer.
 

J. J. in Phila

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Bodies of two children found in Susquehanna

If this is the incident you are referring to, it occurred in August when the river was far more likely to be at a lower level than in April. I'm not saying that theory makes sense since I don't know how the level would fluctuate during spring/summer.

I think it was in the summer, but it was comparable to April 2005. They were found in 8-10 feet of water. Bodies of two children found in Susquehanna

I have not found anything where someone drowned in the West (Lewisburg) Branch of the Susquehanna and the body was not recovered. The North Branch has had at least one lost body, but most of them are found as well. Also, while I know cases where people drowned by going over a low head dam on the Susquehanna, never has the body been ground up.
 

skoogmagoo

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Has anyone ever considered that this may have been an accidental drowning? Let's just say he has some innocuous, but embarrassing *advertiser censored* on his hard drive. He decides he wants to dispose of the problem in some way. He takes his computer apart and throws it into two different areas of the river. On the way back he slips on a rock, falls into the river, and drowns. His body gets washed away to get ground up by the dam, unlike the computer and hard drive. It's the only theory that doesn't involve a huge conspiracy to tie it together.
I believe his personality and work ethic doesn't jive at all with *advertiser censored* on his work computer. He just wasn't that type of person at all.
 

Warwick1991

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J. J. in Phila

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Warwick1991

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How do you get the historic data?

You can get record crests and low water records by checking the boxes. That might be helpful for determining whether there were any anomalies when Ray vanished. You need to identify the location of the gauge you’re interested in. I think there might also be a way to find water levels for a particular day, but I’m not sure what the search parameters are. You can email the NOAA river center that covers the area you’re interested in, and they will often get back to you. I lived near a river that flooded at one time, and the employees were very helpful with data.
 

J. J. in Phila

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You can get record crests and low water records by checking the boxes. That might be helpful for determining whether there were any anomalies when Ray vanished. You need to identify the location of the gauge you’re interested in. I think there might also be a way to find water levels for a particular day, but I’m not sure what the search parameters are. You can email the NOAA river center that covers the area you’re interested in, and they will often get back to you. I lived near a river that flooded at one time, and the employees were very helpful with data.

Thanks. I might try that.
 
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