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Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Disappearances of Ray Gricar and Stephen Ivens: Evil Forces V. Tragic Lives

     Ray Gricar, the Pennsylvania district attorney who vanished from Centre County on April 15, 2005, and Stephen Ivens, the FBI agent who went missing from his Burbank California home on May 11, 2012, have two things in common: they were officers of the law, and their disappearances sparked speculation regarding why they went missing, where they are, and whether or not they could still be alive.

     The fact Ray Gricar has been linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case, and Special Agent Stephen Ivens worked counterterrorism cases for the FBI, has stoked the imaginations of hundreds, if not thousands, of armchair detectives and espionage buffs. The variety of explanations that have surfaced regarding the fates of these men reflects how people think and reason according to their experiences, personal beliefs, and personalities. Offering a theory of what happened to Gricar and Ivens is bit like taking a Rorschach test.

     People who are generally cynical, extremely distrustful of authority, and given to bouts of magical thinking, tend to view mysteries such as these as the tips of conspiracy icebergs. This kind of thinker--one who bases his opinions more on what he believes than what he knows--isn't usually interested in mundane explanations that do not involve intrigue and foul play. These theorists are perhaps less interested in getting to the bottom of an event than weaving narratives reflective of their noir, gothic visions of reality. This doesn't mean, however that such thinkers are always wrong. People in authority shouldn't be trusted, and our government has been caught covering up all kinds of crimes, big and small.

Ray Gricar

     The fact that Ray Gricar had declined to prosecute Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky for child molestation in 1998, then in 2005, took a drive and never returned home, is ripe for theories of foul play. Perhaps, in the face of continued accusations of child abuse by Sandusky following the 59-year-old district attorney's decision not to prosecute, Gricar had changed his mind. Maybe a couple of homicidal Penn State football fans decided to take matters into their own hands. Connecting Ray Gricar to the Jerry Sandusky case, and people who would do anything to save the reputation of Penn State, gives conspiracy theorists the evil forces they need to make his disappearance really interesting.

     Theorists and investigators who search for the most simple, direct, and reasonable explanation behind events and crimes, thinkers who use the inductive rather than the deductive process of reasoning, would probably hypothesize that Ray Gricar's disappearance had been motivated by personal rather than work-related problems. Many of the people who knew Gricar do not believe he was murdered, or that he committed suicide. They think he died accidentally, perhaps by drowning in the Susquehanna River. Gricar's fellow prosecutors don't think he declined to prosecute Sandusky in 1998 because he was afraid to take on Penn State. They therefore don't believe he killed himself because he felt guilty about not putting a pedophile behind bars. However, the belief that Gricar killed himself is not, under the circumstances, unreasonable. And the fact he was not intimidated by Penn State is not inconsistent with the theory he was murdered. While Gricar was officially declared dead in 2011, there are probably people who think he is still alive, living somewhere under a new identify. (There are Lindbergh kidnapping buffs who believe the Lindbergh baby still lives among us.)

Stephen Ivens

     Stephen Ivens, the 35-year-old FBI agent who walked away from his Burbank home on the morning of May 11, 2012, and hasn't been seen since, has presented a perfect slate upon which to write a narrative featuring a governmental conspiracy of secrets and wrongdoing. The fact there has been a virtual news blackout on the case adds fuel to theories ranging from Ivens was a victim of murder; is being held by the government in some secret place; or, as an exposed Russian spy, has been sent back to Russia. While there is no direct or even credible circumstantial evidence supporting any of these rather fantastic theories, there is no proof these scenarios couldn't have occurred. For people drawn to conspiratorial explanations, that's enough.

     Assuming that Ivens' remains are found in the wilderness not far from his home with a contact head wound, and his FBI revolver next to his body, conspiracy theorists will interpret the death scene in a way consistent with murder. To wit: the Vincent Foster case. Some psychologists believe that in big crimes like presidential assassinations, people find comfort in conspiratorial explanations. The thought that a deranged lone wolf can change history with a couple of shots is unsettling. The realization that a district attorney and a FBI agent can come unglued and disappear on their own volition is also a bit disturbing. If it can happen to them, it can happen to anybody.

     Unless there is strong evidence to the contrary, the more straightforward theorists will assume that Stephen Ivens' disappearance, like Ray Gricar's, came about as the result of personal demons rather than the evildoing of others. We will probably never know the story behind the Gricar mystery. The Stephen Ivens case is still relatively fresh, and has the potential of being explained. At least to most people.

1 comment:

  1. Assuming? Probably? These are events that took place. It's funny, do you believe a man like stevens was "suicidal" all of a sudden, sounds like magic? Let alone child pornography. That and the fact it never mentioned how he died, no investigations, nothing.

    Who's the idiot?