The mysterious circumstances surrounding former District Attorney Ray Gricar's disappearance in 2005 have gained attention in light of the Penn State child abuse scandal.
Gricar was an esteemed District Attorney of Centre County when he was approached in 1998 with allegations towards Jerry Sandusky of sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy. Gricar surprisingly decided not to prosecute the Penn State defensive coordinator and never explained why. Then, six years later in 2005, Gricar suddenly went missing.
Former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was charged Nov. 5 with 40 counts of sexual abuse against young boys. The case has revealed an elaborate cover-up of the alleged crimes that occurred between 1994 and 2009. Numerous Penn State officials, including revered Penn State Coach Joe Paterno, seem to have been aware of Sandusky's sexual involvement with young boys that he mentored through his charity, Second Mile.
The case of Ray Gricar is important because it's an added mystery to an already complicated mess. Many have wondered why DA Gricar failed to prosecute Sandusky in 1998. Further speculations have been made that perhaps Gricar's disappearance was foul play and may have been related to a cover-up of the Penn State scandal.
According to the Grand Jury Report, Gricar was well aware of at least one allegation against Sandusky.
Victim 6's mother reported to the Penn State University Police that Sandusky made her son feel uncomfortable in the shower in 1998. When the mother told Sandusky he could not see her son anymore, he reportedly said, I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead.
University Police Detective Ronald Shreffler conducted a lengthy investigation on Victim 6 that was ultimately closed by Gricar. The district attorney determined that there would be no criminal charges, according to the report. Gricar never gave a justification for his decision to close the case without pressing charges or at least pursuing the investigation of the alleged sexual abuse.
Years went by, but in April 2005, circumstances surrounding Gricar once again became suspicious. The 59-year-old district attorney suddenly went missing and was never found.
Gricar had served for nearly 20 years as the district attorney and was planning to retire that year. He had had a successful career, was close with his 27-year-old daughter, Lara, and was happily involved with his live-in girlfriend, Patty Fornicola.
On April 15, 2005, Gricar called his girlfriend and told her he planned to take the day off from work to visit an antique mall off Route 192 in Pennsylvania. He said he would not be home in time to take out the dog. Gricar never returned home and later that night Fornicola called the police.
The next day, Gricar's red and white MINI Cooper was found abandoned in a lot in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, according to CNN. There was no sign of forced entry, but the keys were nowhere to be found and the doors were locked.
Once police gained access to the car, they noticed cigarette ashes in the passenger area. This was notably strange because Gricar didn't smoke and didn't like to be around people who did. His cell phone was found turned off in the glove compartment.
Two employees at the mall told police they had seen Gricar. Search dogs were brought to the scene and police began searching for the missing district attorney, but his body, dead or alive, was never found.
CNN also reported that three months later, fishermen unknowingly found Gricar's work laptop in a Lewisburg river. The hard drive was missing, but was found three months later in the river as well. The hard drive was unreadable and nothing was recovered.
However, it was found on Gricar's home computer that someone had done research on how to destroy a hard drive, how to get rid of it and how to successfully do water damage to a notebook computer.
While Ray Gricar was declared officially dead in July 2011, his body was never found. Some have speculated that Gricar committed suicide, while others question if he may have been murdered or been black-mailed and forced to disappear.
While it may never be known why Gricar chose to keep allegations against Sandusky a secret or why the former district attorney suddenly went missing, the circumstances remain suspicious, especially in light of the developing child sexual abuse cover-up that has been revealed at Penn State this week.