Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Man Who Knew Too Much?

Patty Fornicola’s significant other calls her at approximately 11:30 AM, to let her know that he is taking a well-deserved morning off of work. Patty thinks nothing of it. It didn’t take a genius to notice that her longtime boyfriend has been extremely stressed out at work, and she thinks a long drive in his favorite car may help ease the tension he’s been feeling. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. The morning turns into afternoon, and the afternoon turns into evening without warning that something terrible would occur. She becomes worried, “It’s not like him to be this late without him contacting me, something must be wrong,” she thinks. Texts and phone calls continuously go unanswered and she becomes restless. The clock turns 11:30 PM. It’s been exactly 12 hours since she last spoke to him. She calls the police to report him as a missing person. He went missing on April 15, 2005 with no word from him since then. Evidence of his disappearance is limited and leads go without an answer. He was legally pronounced dead in July 2011 so his family can receive some closure. Now around 6 years later, her loved one’s name has been brought up again, and not for a very good reason. This man is “now” known for being the man who didn’t charge Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky for child sex abuse back in 2005. Now you have to wonder if this man’s involvement in the Penn State scandal is linked to his disappearance. Did he know too much? That man is Ray Gricar and this is his story.
 Ray Frank Gricar was born on October 9, 1945. For 20 years (1985-2005), he served as the district attorney of Centre County, Pennsylvania. After earning the reputation as a hardworking and dedicated lawyer for 20 years, Gricar was planning on retiring in December 2005, even though he was up for re-election. He married and divorced twice, with his first wife coincidentally working at Penn State (hmm...). He and his first wife also adopted a baby girl, Lara in 1978. Lara was considered to be the most important person in his life and he would do anything for her. At the time of his disappearance, Gricar was living with his girlfriend of three years, Patty Fornicola who he called the love of his life. 2005 was a big year in the Gricar case. It wasn’t only the year he disappeared, it was the year he re-opened the investigation of the child sex-abuse allegations against Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. He first investigated it in 1998 but never charged Sandusky because of the “lack of evidence.” According to, “District attorney Ray Gricar was working on getting to the bottom of things, disregarding Sandusky’s position at Penn State and in the community” (Hardacker). On the verge of breaking the case, Ray Gricar mysteriously disappeared, being last seen on April 15, 2005 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. On that day, he took a half-day off of work and left his place of employment, to go for a drive in his 2004 red Mini Cooper. While driving, Ray called his girlfriend Patty at approximately 11:30 AM, to let her know of his plans. He told her he was driving east-northeast on Route 192 toward Lewisburg, Pennsylvania in Union County. When Ray didn’t arrive home, Patty called the police and reported him missing at 11:30 PM on the same day. To this day, there has been no activity on his cell phone, email, bank accounts or credit cards since his April 2005 disappearance.
 Ray was a prosecutor which meant he was involved in some high-profiled cases. “But authorities stated that no threats had been made against him and they did not believe his disappearance had anything to do with his job” (Charley Project). Ray’s family and friends reported that he felt overworked and fatigued before he went missing. According to Patty Fornicola, “he was so exhausted that I suggested he see a doctor.” But apparently he did not so. On April 16, the day after Ray vanished, his red Mini Cooper was found in a dirt parking lot on the outskirts of Lewisburg in Union County, near the Susquehanna River (located 45 miles east of his Bellefonte home). There was no sign of him or evidence of foul play in the regions near where his parked car was found. However there was cigarette ashes were found inside the Mini Cooper. According to, “Ray dislikes cigarette smoke and would be unlikely to allow someone to smoke in his car.” In his locked car, his cell phone was found along with a water bottle. Ray’s DNA was on the mouth of the bottle. The Mini Cooper’s car keys were not found in the area and still haven’t been found to this day. Nearby where the car was found, was an antiques store. The owner of this antiques store thought maybe Ray was in his store the day of April 15 but wasn’t 100% sure. This could be a possibility because of his interest in antiques and he has been to that store before. The store owner also said a man fitting Ray’s description appeared to be waiting for someone. 
 After finding hardly any evidence where his car was found, investigators moved to the residence where Ray and Patty lived. They immediately noticed that none of Ray’s luggage, clothing, or other belongings were found to be missing. The only thing that was missing was his county-issued laptop and a pair of sunglasses. The laptop’s case and power source were left behind. mentions, “In late July 2005, Ray’s laptop was found by fishermen in the Susquehanna River, lodged against a bridge support several hundred yards from where his car had been found. It was determined that the hard drive had been removed before the computer was thrown in the water. Investigators stated that the computer had been in the river for a long time, possibly since the time Ray vanished. His family said he did not normally take the laptop with him on trips.” In late October 2005, over six months after Ray’s disappearance, his computer hard drive was found on the banks of the Susquehanna River. The hard drive was so badly damaged, that investigators were unable to obtain any clues from it. Awhile later, investigators discovered someone (not necessarily Gricar) had done searches on Gricar’s home computer for “how to wreck a hard drive” and “water damage to a notebook computer.”
 Coincidentally, Ray’s older brother Roy disappeared on very similar circumstances in Dayton, Ohio in May 1996. Roy Gricar informed his wife he was going out to buy mulch and never returned. Like his brother Ray, Roy’s car was found abandoned as well. Later, his body was pulled from the Great Miami River. The coroner concluded that Roy’s drowning was a suicide. Roy’s son Tony released this statement: “He was not a swimmer. He was not a fan of water. So, if there has ever been anything questionable about my dad’s suicide, that is it. It’s sort of like if you’re afraid of fire, you’re not going to set yourself on fire. So that is the one question that’s always been in the back of my mind. Other than that, it’s cut and dry” (Lohr,
 Authorities investigated the possibility that Ray suffered from depression and committed suicide like his brother did, but there has been no evidence founded to support this theory. There have been quite a few possible sightings of Gricar in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on April 18, and in several other states, but the sightings have not been confirmed and most of them are not considered to be credible.
 To this day, authorities are uncertain what caused Ray’s disappearance; foul play is being considered as a possibility but there is little evidence to support this theory. When a disappearance occurs, the first suspects become the relatives of the missing. Ray’s girlfriend Patty and daughter Lara both passed polygraph tests after he vanished and neither woman is considered a suspect. Lara lives in Seattle, Washington; she says she and her father were close, spoke on the phone frequently, and spent several weeks together each year. Authorities have considered conducting polygraphs to Ray’s two ex-wives and nephews, but decided against it. Ray maintained an amicable relationship with his daughter’s mother, whom he divorced in 1991, but reportedly didn’t get along with his other ex-wife.
 Ray enjoys antiques, traveling, and outdoor activities. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio and got his law degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He moved to Pennsylvania in the early 1980’s. Ray kept a low profile at his job despite its public nature. His case remains unsolved and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance are unclear. He was declared legally dead in July 2011.

Hush Money?

When a high-profiled person like Ray Gricar disappears, the topic of some sort of monetary gain of the missing comes up. In fact, when Gricar first disappeared, investigators were puzzled when it came to his financial situation. Tony, nephew of Ray and son of the now deceased Roy Gricar told the press, “He [Ray] was making a fair amount of money; but at least from a forensic accounting standpoint, the thought is there that there should have been more cash. But for somebody from his generation, which [preferred to] deal in cash, what is the appropriate amount that should be sitting in an account” (aolnews)? One of the earliest references to Gricar’s bank account was in “Missed Leads,” where close friend and co-worker, then Assistant District Attorney Steve Sloane said, when told of the relatively low assets, “He [Mr. Gricar] should have had more money than that, I would think. He wasn’t into investing. He wasn’t into 401(k)s or IRAs” ( But there will aways be explanations for his lack of assets. Gricar paid for his daughter’s college and her horseback riding hobby and those could be easily proved through audit receipts. People who knew Gricar well said he used a credit card for most purchases, even routine ones. Neither Tony Gricar nor law enforcement are saying how much more, forensically, Gricar’s assets should be. There probably, just reading between the lines, is enough to finance an initial voluntary departure. But the question that needs to be asked  is, “did he have enough finances to start a new life elsewhere?” Another question is, “does the family know something about Gricar’s disappearance that they’re not revealing?” At the second anniversary of Gricar’s disappearance, Tony Gricar said, “Neither one of us [Tony and daughter Lara Gricar] believe he is still alive” ( Two weeks ago, when the Penn State allegations were released and the possibility that Gricar was paid off to drop the case, Tony changed his tune a little when asked if his uncle was still alive. His response was, “Alive? Hell, I don’t know” (aolnews).
To be honest, I don’t think anyone knows what happened to Gricar, it’s just all speculation. It does seem suspicious that Gricar dropped the case against Jerry Sandusky in 1998. And then in 2005, when Gricar was thinking of re-opening the case, he mysteriously disappears. Maybe he had some information that could kill the reputation of the university. I’m not saying the Penn State boosters axed him, it just sounds very shady. Another possible explanation is that the monetary and political influence of the Penn State Athletic Department Boosters, may have made Gricar “disappear.” If so, it must of been a lot of money to not only keep him quiet, but also for him drop everything he knew, cut all ties with family and friends and take off for some unknown destination.

A Post Modern Cultural Value

We are a country of blame. When something terrible occurs, it’s our natural reaction to blame someone, anyone for what happened. For example the Penn State scandal that has been in the news recently. Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was charged with over 40 counts of child sexual assault and has allegedly molested at least eight boys over the years. He is obviously the easiest to blame since he was the one that actually did the assaulting. But there is others who are also being blamed in this horrific crime. The Penn State Head Football Coach was fired after serving 62 years at the university. He was fired because there was evidence that he didn’t go through the proper avenues in reporting Sandusky’s incidents. Another person blamed is Penn State Offensive Coordinator Mike McQueary. It is reported that he is the person who actually witnessed one of Sandusky’s sexual acts with an underaged boy. This incident took place reportedly in the locker room shower located at the university. The public also believes McQueary did not do enough for the victims of these senseless acts. There also has been the mention of a prosecutor connected to this scandal. His name is Ray Gricar. He was the district attorney of Centre County in Pennsylvania for over 20 years. 
I first heard about Gricar while watching my favorite channel Investigation Discovery. I was watching a show called Disappeared. This show is about people who go missing for unexplained reasons. Families of the missing plead to the public for help and for any information that will lead to the recovery [dead or alive] of their loved ones. While watching Disappeared one night, the story of Ray Gricar came on. I thought nothing of it. I just watched it like I watched other episodes of Disappeared. It was an intriguing episode because it was filled with uncertainty and suspense. He went off on a drive to get away from the stresses of his job, and he never returned. His red Mini Cooper was found. So was his cell phone, laptop, and hard drive...but no Ray Gricar. I immediately thought there might be a connection between his disappearance and one of his dangerous cases he has worked on in the past. I watched this episode maybe a year ago. Now warp to a couple weeks ago and his name was mentioned again. He is now known for being the district attorney who didn’t charge Sandusky back in 1998. 
There are many explanations that both the authorities and the public are coming up with regarding the disappearance of Ray Gricar. Some say suicide. Some say he was kidnapped and murdered. And finally, some say he was paid off by Penn State so he would stay hush hush about the Sandusky scandal. Jerry Sandusky was seen as a god at that school and anything that could hurt his reputation or the university’s reputation could be deadly.
I believe populism plays a large part in the Ray Gricar disappearance. When disappearances occur, many resources are used to find the missing. Lately, the use of psychics have added a whole new element to investigations. Back in the day, psychics were looked down upon by the public who compared them to witches and Satanic worshipers. Now psychic investigation is welcomed by the public thanks to the media. There are shows on TV nowadays like Psychic Detectives and The Dead Files which I feel has helped society cope and welcome the use of psychics in police investigations. With the Gricar case, a psychic was brought in to add some insight to the investigation. Her name was Carla Baron and she said that the missing 59-year-old district attorney was killed.  This is the scenario of his death that she laid out: Gricar, who was planning on retiring at the end of 2005, had stumbled upon some information of an illegal scheme that threatened the income and reputation of several people. He stumbled upon this information about four to six weeks before his disappearance and was planning on passing this information to someone higher in the government. Those in this scheme found out Gricar was on to them and began following him. Baron said, “It was too much of a danger to them and their the root of this is a lot of money.” She doesn’t believe they planned on kidnapping Gricar on April 15, but the opportunity presented itself when he drove out of town. When Gricar parked his car at the antique shop in Lewisburg, he was approached by two men in a tan, four-door car. The driver leaned in Gricar’s passenger window and showed him a gun beneath his shirt. “I could see the hairs on the guy’s arm leaning in,” she said. The man apparently threatened Gricar and they left in Gricar’s Mini Cooper. A man in the back seat used plastic ties to secure Gricar’s hands behind his back. “The reason he went with them, he didn’t want any harm to come to the people he loved,” Baron said. “The threat was on the table.” She believed the men took Gricar to a large warehouse with a series of bay doors that roll up. She believes a road runs parallel to the warehouse and there are railroad tracks that go up and slope back down again. She thinks Route 15 will come into play at some point, and she also sees an underpass with concrete buttresses. Baron believes the attackers copied what was on Gricar’s laptop computer, and then destroyed it. She believes they killed Gricar that night he disappeared and buried him in a shallow grave near the warehouse so they could keep an eye out on it. “The same people that picked up Ray are not the ones who killed him,” Baron said. “I have a feeling we’re going to find them and connect them to this before we find Ray.” She believes Gricar’s body is five to 15 minutes away from the spot in Lewisburg where his car was found (
Regardless if you believe in psychics or not, I think investigators should give this lady a chance. It’s definitely worth a shot since all other leads have gotten nowhere. I think it’s interesting how Baron mentions that his disappearance/murder has something to do with a case he was just about to break. Hmm could that be the Penn State case? We can only wonder.

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