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Ten Years After Ray Gricar's Disappearance the Mystery Remains Unsolved

by on April 15, 2015 6:35 AM

Ten years ago Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar disappeared without a trace, capturing national media attention and leaving the county in a state of disbelief.

Even after a decade of investigation, authorities have more questions than answers, more theories than evidence, and more dead ends than promising leads.

Was Gricar murdered? Did he commit suicide? Did he vanish into the ether, only to begin a new life under a new name somewhere else?

Bellefonte Police Chief Shawn Weaver says each of these theories has the same amount of supporting evidence: exactly none.

“In most cases like this, you have some kind of an idea of what happened, whether that’s from a note a person left behind or from witnesses,” says trooper David McGarvey with the Pennsylvania State Police.

“But here, you don’t have that. This is an instance where you have a person who’s here one day and then gone next, with no real idea of what happened or where he’s at.”

What little concrete information investigators do know has been widely reported, and hasn’t yielded any real results: Gricar vanished after telling loved ones he was going for a scenic drive on April 15, 2005. His car was later found outside an antique mall in Lewisburg, where Gricar was reportedly seen the day of his disappearance with a mystery woman who remains unidentified to this day.

Almost four months after Gricar’s disappearance, Weaver says a fisherman made an unexpected catch in the Susquehanna River – Gricar’s laptop, which was missing its hard drive. The missing drive later turned up on the Susquehanna’s banks nearly 100 miles away, heavily damaged and deteriorated.

“When the computer and the hard drive were discovered, investigators felt it was the evidence that could tie a lot of things together,” Weaver says. “We were hoping that it would contain some answers, that it would send us down the right path.” 

Instead, investigators found yet another dead-end. Any clues that might have been on the hard drive were long gone, and even the renowned Kroll Ontrack data recovery firm (which managed to pull data from the hard drive recovered from the Columbia space shuttle disaster) was unable to get any information from the drive.

By the time Weaver and his team found out that Gricar had used his home computer to search the internet for information about “how to fry a hard drive,” it didn’t even matter. Gricar, if it was really him, had succeeded. The drive was fried.

Weaver, who took over as Bellefonte police chief in 2006, describes the Gricar case “like air leaking out of a balloon.” The more he and his team pushed to find the truth, the more it slipped away from them, vanishing into the air just like Gricar himself.

“It’s been very frustrating. We’ve had a lot of tips come and ago, but every once in a while we’d get a few that would stand out, that we thought could be the big break in the case,” Weaver says. “So we run down the lead, we investigate it, and in the end it was nothing. People want closure, and that tends to really wear on you.”

State police have been the lead investigators on the case since 2013, and McGarvey says the case is still open and remains active. State police have a detective who specializes in cold cases, and McGarvey hopes that the ten year anniversary may prompt someone with information to contact authorities. He asks anyone with any information to call the state police tip line at 1-800-472-8477.

Despite all the time that’s passed, Weaver still hopes the case will be solved someday.

“We want to find some closure for his family’s sake, for the community’s sake, and of course, for Ray’s sake,” Weaver says.

 

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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