Ray Gricar

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Ray Gricar
Ray gricar.png
Gricar photo from FBI missing person poster
Centre County District Attorney
In office
Preceded by Robert Mix
Succeeded by Michael T. Madeira[1]
Personal details
Born (1945-10-09)October 9, 1945
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died Missing since April 15, 2005(2005-04-15) (aged 59); declared legally dead July 25, 2011
Political party Republican[2]
Alma mater University of Dayton
Case Western Reserve University

Ray Frank Gricar (/ˈɡrkɑːr/; born October 9, 1945, missing April 15, 2005) was an American attorney who served as the district attorney of Centre County, Pennsylvania, from 1985 until 2005. On April 15, 2005, Gricar went missing under mysterious circumstances and has not been heard from since. After he had been missing for over six years with no trace of his whereabouts, Centre County authorities declared Gricar legally dead on July 25, 2011.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Gricar received his Juris Doctor degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law and began his career as a prosecutor for Cuyahoga County. He moved to State College, Pennsylvania, around 1980 and after a brief stint as an assistant district attorney, Gricar was elected district attorney of Centre County in 1985. He was re-elected four times before announcing that he would not run for re-election in the 2005 campaign.

Gricar was reported missing to authorities after failing to return home from a road trip. His car was found in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, with his cell phone inside, and his laptop computer was found in the adjacent Susquehanna River; other than that, no trace of Gricar has been found.

Early life and career[edit]

Gricar was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in the city's Collinwood neighborhood.[3] He attended high school at the Gilmour Academy, a prestigious Catholic school in Gates Mills.[3] Gricar went on to attend the University of Dayton, where he became interested in studying law after working as an intern for the prosecutor's office. After graduating, he moved back to Cleveland to study law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He obtained his Juris Doctor and subsequently took a job as a prosecutor for Cuyahoga County, specializing in prosecuting cases of rape and murder.[3][4]

Gricar moved to State College, Pennsylvania, around 1980, when his wife took a job at Pennsylvania State University ("Penn State").[3] He opted to become a stay-at-home dad to his young daughter following the move; however, when news spread that a prosecutor was living in the area, Centre County District Attorney David E. Grine offered Gricar an assistant position, which he accepted.[3] In 1985, the incumbent district attorney, Robert Mix (Grine's successor), chose not to run for re-election, and Gricar ran for the open position. He won the election by a margin of 600 votes.[4]

Gricar successfully campaigned to make the Centre County DA job a full-time one in 1996, as it had been a part-time position when he was elected.[4][5] He was re-elected as DA in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2001.[4] During his tenure as DA, Gricar prosecuted the perpetrator of the 1996 Hetzel Union Building shooting at Penn State.[5][6] In 1998, Gricar declined to press charges against longtime Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky following allegations of sexual abuse.[7] In 1999 Gricar appeared on episode five of season two of the Discovery Channel show The FBI Files. Thirteen years later, in 2011, Sandusky was arrested and charged by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office on multiple counts of child sexual abuse. In 2004, Gricar announced he would not run for re-election and would retire from both the DA job and as a practicing attorney in December 2005, shortly after his 60th birthday.[4][5]

Personal life[edit]

Gricar met Barbara Gray during his undergraduate study at the University of Dayton. She moved to Cleveland with him after graduation and they married in 1969.[3] They adopted a baby girl, Lara, in 1978.[3] Ray and Barbara Gricar divorced in 1991; Ray married again in 1996, but divorced his second wife in 2001.[8] In 2002 or 2003 Gricar moved in with his girlfriend, Patty Fornicola, an employee of the Centre County District Attorney's office.[4] He was living with Fornicola in her childhood home in Bellefonte at the time of his disappearance.[8]

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.[8]


At 11:30 a.m. (EDT) on April 15, 2005, Gricar called Fornicola to inform her that he was driving through the Brush Valley area northeast of Centre Hall.[9] Gricar failed to return home, and late that evening, Fornicola reported him missing.[9]

The following day, investigators identified a red MINI Cooper, the car driven by Ray Gricar, in an antique store parking lot in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.[10] The car contained his county-issued cell phone but not his laptop computer, nor his keys, nor his wallet, and investigators identified no signs of foul play.[8] Police and family members noted that the location of the vehicle, adjacent to two bridges over the Susquehanna River, bore some similarities to the location of the vehicle of Roy Gricar, older brother of Ray Gricar, before investigators found his body in the Great Miami River in Ohio in 1996.[10]

In the days following the discovery of the vehicle, authorities searched the river and its banks but found no sign of Gricar.[8] Pennsylvania authorities asked the FBI to analyze Gricar's bank accounts, credit card records and cell phone records, but found no clues as to where he may have been.[8]

On July 30, 2005, fishermen discovered the county-issued laptop computer of Ray Gricar in the Susquehanna River beneath a bridge between Lewisburg and Milton.[11] A Pennsylvania State Police computer expert analyzed the computer and found that its hard drive was missing.[11] Divers searched the area of the river near where the laptop was found over the next several days, but found nothing else.[11] Two months later, someone recovered a hard drive on the banks of the Susquehanna River about 100 yards (91 m) from the location of the laptop, and investigators theorize that it originated with Gricar;[12] however, it was badly damaged, and analysis by the FBI, U.S. Secret Service and the firm Kroll Ontrack—which successfully recovered data from a hard drive recovered from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster—all attempted but failed to recover any data from the hard drive.[13]

In April 2009, Bellefonte police revealed that before his disappearance, someone used the home computer at the residence of Gricar and his girlfriend to perform internet searches on topics such as "how to wreck a hard drive", "how to fry a hard drive" and "water damage to a notebook computer".[14][15]

The disappearance of Gricar featured as the subject of at least two television documentaries: an episode of Haunting Evidence that first aired on Court TV in June 2006, and an episode of Disappeared that first aired on Investigation Discovery in February 2011.[16] Additionally, an episode of Without a Trace on CBS featured information on Ray Gricar.[17] An episode of news magazine Dateline NBC featured the disappearance of Gricar on December 16, 2011.

On June 30, 2011, Lara Gricar, daughter of Ray Gricar and trustee of his estate, petitioned Centre County for a court declaration of declared death in absentia.[18] County President Judge David E. Grine approved the petition and declared Gricar legally dead on July 25, 2011.[19]

A day after the judge declared Gricar legally dead, police in Utah arrested a man resembling Gricar, who refused to reveal his identity, on a misdemeanor charge.[20] This "John Doe" resembled Gricar in his height and weight, lips, and even some wrinkles.[21] The similarities caused an internet sensation, with speculation that someone had found Gricar.[21] Centre County authorities quickly sent copies of fingerprints of Gricar to Utah, expecting a match.[22] Nevertheless, the fingerprints of this man triggered no match.[20] Authorities eventually identified the man and declared he was not Gricar.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Election Results: 2005 Municipal Election". Centre County, Pennsylvania. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Candidate - Ray Frank Gricar". Our Campaigns.com. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Renner, James (2008). The Serial Killer's Apprentice: And 12 Other True Stories of Cleveland's Most Intriguing Unsolved Crimes. Gray & Company. pp. 51–64. ISBN 1-59851-046-0. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Ray Gricar, Curriculum Vita". June 11, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c "Police search by land and air for Centre County prosecutor". Reading Eagle. April 17, 2005. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  6. ^ Fiore, Mark (September 19, 1996). "Woman charged in PSU murder". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  7. ^ Ganim, Sara (November 6, 2011). "Penn State Scandal: Gricar had final say in ending inquiry". Centre Daily Times. State College, Pennsylvania. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Reed Ward, Paula (April 19, 2005). "Mystery surrounds missing Centre County DA". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Ganim, Sara (April 15, 2010). "Gricar disappearance at 5 years: Trail growing cold". Centre Daily Times. State College, Pennsylvania. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "Expanded search gives no clues on missing Centre County DA". Reading Eagle. April 19, 2005. Retrieved April 11, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c Ward, Paula Reed (August 2, 2005). "Missing DA's laptop found". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. pp. B–1, B–2. Retrieved April 11, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Missing DA's Hard Drive Found". Philadelphia: WPVI-TV. October 26, 2005. Retrieved April 11, 2011. 
  13. ^ Ganim, Sara (September 23, 2008). "Gricar hard drive yields no clues". Centre Daily Times. State College, Pennsylvania. Retrieved April 11, 2011. 
  14. ^ Cliff White (July 6, 2011). "RAY GRICAR DISAPPEARANCE: Judge asked to declare ex-DA 'legally dead'". Centre Daily Times. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011. 
  15. ^ Ganim, Sara (April 15, 2009). "Foul play theory weakened". Centre Daily Times. State College, Pennsylvania. Retrieved April 12, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Ray Gricar". Retrieved 2011-04-10. 
  17. ^ "Missing D.A. Left Few Clues". The Early Show. CBS. Retrieved April 12, 2011. 
  18. ^ White, Cliff (July 6, 2011). "Judge asked to declare ex-DA 'legally dead'". Centre Daily Times. State College, Pennsylvania. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  19. ^ Rosenthal, Lauren (July 25, 2011). "Missing Centre County DA declared dead legally". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b Ganim, Sara (July 26, 2011). "Could this be Ray Gricar? Utah authorities trying to identify John Doe mystery prisoner". The Patriot-News. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  21. ^ a b c Ganim, Sara (July 27, 2011). "Utah detainee isn't Gricar, but look-alikes are considered good for investigations". The Patriot-News. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  22. ^ Ganim, Sara (July 26, 2011). "UPDATE: Could this be Ray Gricar? Investigators say probably not". The Patriot-News. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 

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