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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Missing Prosecutor: What Happened to Ray Gricar?

     On April 15, 2005, Centre County (Pennsylvania) prosecutor Ray Gricar told his girlfriend he was going out for a drive. The 59-year-old district attorney didn't return, and his body is still missing. No one knows where he is or what happened to him. While women and children go missing every day, some to be found alive and others not, it's not everyday that a prosecutor, or any public official for that matter, disappears. The Gricar disappearance was a mystery in 2005, and more than six years later, as a result of its possible connection to the Penn State scandal, it has become a mystery that crys out once again for a solution.

     The Gricar case reminds us that coincidence can be the investigator's worst enemy. If the prosecutor's disappearace is not related to the Jerry Sandusky case, then suicide seems to be the most reasonable explanation. If the two matters are in some way connected, one has to add homicide to the equasion. Put bluntly, the question is this: Did someone murder Ray Gricar to cover up the Penn State sex molestation scandal?

     In 1980, attorney Ray Gricar moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, the seat of government in Centre County ten miles northeast of State College, the home of Penn State. Gricar was elected district attorney of the county in 1985. Nine months before he planned to retire from office in 2005, the twice-divorced prosecutor went missing.

The Missing Persons Investigation

     After not returning home on April 15, 2005, the police found Gricar's vehicle parked in an antiques market parking lot in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania fifty miles east of Bellefonte. Three months later, his lap top computer was found, missing its hard drive, in the Susquehanna River. In October 2005, the damaged and useless hard drive was found up river from where police had found Gricar's lap top. On his home computer, Gricar had recently researched how to destroy a hard drive.

     On July 25, 2011, at the request of the missing prosecutor's daughter, a Centre County judge declared Gricar legally deceased. Among the people Gricar had recently prosecuted, none of them surfaced as suspects in Gricar's disappearance.

The Sandusky Connection

     Early in 1998, the mother of an 11-year-old boy reported to the Penn State Univeristy Police that assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had made her son feel uncomfortable in the locker room shower. Coach Sandusky, according to the mother, had hugged her son while both of them were nude. University police detective Ronald Shreffler conducted the investigation which included an audo recording of the mother's confrontation with Coach Sandusky over the incident. The mother asked Sandusky if he had been sexually aroused by his physical contact with her son, and if his "private parts" had touched the boy. The coach did not deny being in the shower with her son. Regarding the arousal question, Sandusky said, "I don't think so...maybe. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead." Acording to subsequent testimony before a grand jury looking into the case, the boy, referred to as victim # 6, described how coach Sandusky lathered him up with soap then said, "I'm going to squeeze your guts out."

     Prosecutor Gricar, in my view, had enough evidence against Jerry Sandusky to support Indecent Assault, Corruption of a Minor, and Child Endangerment convictions. The district attorney chose, however, not to pursue the case. Had he done so, more victims may have surfaced the way they are coming forward now, and Penn State would have been scandalized then instead of now. Coach Joe Paterno may or may not have been fired. Who knows how many molestation victims would have been spared had prosecutor Gricar taken action in 1998.

     Shortly after the grand jury testimony of victim # 6, Jerry Sandusky, at age 57, resigned from Penn State coaching. He did not however, leave town or the campus.

The Speculation

     I would imagine that most people familiar with the case believe that Ray Gricar is dead. Dr. Cyril Wecht, former Allegheny County Medical Examiner and famed forensic pathologist, has publicly said that Gricar may have committed suicide over guilt he could have protected more children. Dr. Wecht has not ruled out the possibility of homicide motivated by someone who didn't want the prosecutor re-opening a case against coach Sandusky.

     Robert Buehner, the district attorney for nearby Montour County and longtime friend of Gricar's, doesn't believe there is any connection between the disappearance and the Sandusky case. Rejecting the probability of suicide, Buehner thinks it's more likely that Gricar had been the target of a violent criminal he had prosecuted or was in the midst of prosecuting.

The Future of the Gricar Case

     Without a body there is no way to know what killed Ray Gricar. That means there is no way to determine how he had died. Unless someone comes forward with a credible confession and information that leads to Gricar's remains, the case will remain in limbo. The matter will eventually be forgotten, but until then, at least as long as the Sandusky case is in the news, the speculation will continue.


  1. Great post. I've been interested in this case ever since I watched a documentary about this on MSNBC one saturday afternoon last year. This was way before the Penn State scandal surfaced and now there's definitely a possibility there could be a connection. But I have a feeling this one of those cases that will never be truly solved. An interesting piece of info from the documentary was that Ray Gricar's older brother, Roy, disappeared from his West Chester, Ohio, home in May 1996. His body was found a week later in the Great Miami River; authorities ruled his death a suicide.

    1. I also watched the documentary and something seamed to be weird about the surveillance video they showed from the County Court House. There was a guy smoking outside of the building and for me he seamed to be watching our guy leaving the building. For sure I'm totally wrong, It was a pretty quick flash and I couldn't check it again but something was off about that guy I wish I could watch that part again...
      For me it's clear that he wanted to destroy his hard drive for a reason before returning it to the county so he threw it into the river. It's possible that someone was following him for days and right after he got rid of the computer caught him. What is weird is that his cell phone was left behind in the car but he took his valet and ID. Why would he leave his phone? Did he have a personal phone as well? If someone did kill him they must have known the story about his brother so the bridge scene was the perfect opportunity for the perpetrator to make it look like a possible suicide - the same way his brother killed himself. Or maybe he was hiding something about that child molester case, maybe there were bigger guys involved and his hands were tight so he couldn't prosecute and before his disappearance he was about to come clean but than why would he wanna destroy the hard drive? Anyhow. This is a really interesting case I wish I knew more about. I don't know why but I keep thinking about it... My feeling is the same until they find a body I don't think this case will be solved. I hope one day this family gets closure...

  2. I find Bruehner's speculations to be no different than anyone who is not in law enforcement. However, as another county DA & Gricar's good friend, he of all people should have been familiar with anyone Gricar had prosecuted or was in the process of prosecuting. As a DA, those suspects would have been the first to being investigated and yet all of them were cleared.

    I would look closely at the connection of suicide & his older brother committing suicide by drowning in a river. What was their relationship - good, bad or ugly? His current girlfriend would certainly have been questioned, but were his ex-wives questioned & if so, helpful in discerning his state of mind at the time he went missing? His asst DA's & staff said he was a workaholic, but was that the reason for his two divorces or were the divorces related to something else? Did depression run in his family? Were these inquiries exhausted before concluding he did not commit suicide?

    IMHO, he arranged a meeting at the antique market to disclose results of an investigation for a reason. Likely he knew them well & hoped he could forestall public disclosure by convincing them to turn themselves in and quietly plead guilty or leave the area before he would have indict them.

    This theory works ONLY if Gricar knew that person well to get in their car & leave the parking lot. We can also speculate he was meeting the state A.G. to turn over a laptop with sufficient evidence to bring down powerful men associated with Sandusky's operation, and the A.G. (now Gov.) destroyed all the evidence as well as Gricar. He would have been in the best position to block an investigation that got vaguely close since his political aspirations would have gone down in flames as a result.

    The boys/young men have explained how afraid they were of Jerry Sandusky. Maybe there was reason to be. Maybe Jerry was actually a killer hiding in plain view. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

  3. Very good posting and very good comments. Dateline did state that Gricar was seen in the company of an attractive dark haired woman at the antique mall. He walked with her and they kept splitting up to go in various venues. They were seen together for some three hours. There was speculation that they were discussing a case. It would appear that he had a date. The investigation by the State Police and such of going to various hotels would indicate that more is known about the woman than is being released. It also appears that all of the legal entitities who were questioned were very tight lipped about the case. Something is being suppressed.

  4. Has anyone considered as a suspect, the mother who went to police in 1998 about the shower incident her son had with Sandusky?

    Is she dark haired? Does she smoke?

  5. I'm late to this party, but was there ever a question as to maybe he just disappeared on his own. He could have had more involvement in the Sandusky case than was none, the woman at the antique mall could have been a mistress or any number of other possibilities that he would want to leave town and make it look like he was killed. He could be living it up on some South Sea island.