Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ray Gricar, two twists

Ray Gricar is a classic in recent disappeared-off-the-face-of-the-earth cases.  He was the the district attorney of Centre County, Pennsylvania, from 1985 to 2005.  Just before he was about to retire, and just after he did computer searches on his home computer on 'how to wreck a hard drive', 'how to fry a hard drive', and 'water damage to a notebook computer', he vanished.  They found his car, and later in the Susquehanna River, his work laptop without its hard drive, and later still, also in the river nearby, the hard drive, without any recoverable information.   He was declared dead in July 2011.

"Ray Gricar mystery: DA's privacy adds to intrigue surrounding his disappearance"

Twist one.  When the Penn State pedophilia scandal emerged, it turned out that Gricar had declined to prosecute Jerry Sandusky in 1998 over very similar allegations.  There are still rumors that the scandal is really about a very powerful pedophilia ring, and not just a cover-up of the actions of one bad guy.

"Cyril Wecht: Centre County DA's Disappearance Linked To PSU Scandal"

Twist two.  Deadspin.com recently made a FOIA request to the FBI regarding Gricar (my emphasis in red):
"The documents don't reveal anything about the investigation into Gricar's disappearance, likely because the investigation is ongoing, but they do contain material that will raise eyebrows under all those tinfoil hats.
For one, the FBI consulted with the CIA before responding to my request. And the CIA refused to allow certain information to be released because it's classified "in the interest of national defense or foreign policy" and can't be disclosed in order to protect "intelligence sources and methods" as well as the names, titles, etc., of CIA personnel.
For two, the FBI destroyed three Gricar-related files. The FBI can't say what was in them because, hey, they've been destroyed. But that's not as suspicious. The destroyed files had similar tracking numbers to the one we got, and their contents probably didn't differ much from what's in our file, according to FOIA expert Michael Ravnitzky. Also, it's standard practice for the federal government to vaporize unnecessary records after a period of time.
The CIA "excisions" are more curious. For those, I got in touch with a friend in the intelligence community known as "The Wolf." I'm not making that up. That's what people call him. The Wolf didn't make too much of the CIA interfering with my FBI response. The forms and procedures followed were routine at the time, he told me. It's perfectly normal in the course of a background check for the FBI to contact the CIA for a "name check," which is basically a database query for related records. But that's also where things get a little weird. Here's the relevant text from the Gricar file:
The Central Intelligence Agency, responding to an FBI name check request, advised that they have [REDACTED] relating to the captioned individual.
The Wolf didn't quite know what to make of that. One can only guess at what's behind the redaction. I reckon it's a page count for documents, unless it says "no records" and the CIA are redacting to prevent us from knowing they don't know anything. Which would be very CIA-ish: secrecy for secrecy's sake, even when nothing's at stake. Typically, however, the feds don't redact non-information. I'm not even sure that's legal. So it appears the spooks might actually have something on Gricar, which drags us partway into conspiracy territory. Let's enjoy the ride for a moment.
For years, the Gricar conspiracy theorists have suggested that the missing DA might be hiding out in Slovenia, where he's said to have relatives. In 1993, a crooked judge from Pennsylvania's Cambria County, which borders Gricar's Centre County, absconded to Slovenia rather than serve a prison sentence for corruption. There's no way Gricar wouldn't have known about that incident, which is why a reported sighting of the DA in Southfield, Mich., a month after his disappearance generated so much interest. The sighting was made by a retired police officer who worked as a composite artist, of all things. It was, in other words, a credible sighting.
As the conspiracy theorists pointed out, Southfield is a Detroit suburb with a Macedonian consulate. As they further pointed out, if one cared to obtain a visa to enter Macedonia and thereafter progress into, say, one's ancestral homeland of Slovenia, one might first come to the consulate in Southfield, especially if one were lying low in Canada at the time.
Normally, this is the type of thing you laugh off, provided you are sane. Federal investigators would have to be pretty half-ass not to run down a visa for a vanished man. But consider this: Macedonia was part of the former Yugoslavia. So was Slovenia. And Gricar's FBI file reveals trips to communist Yugoslavia during the Cold War (in 1973 and 1984). These caught the attention of the federal background checkers in 1986. They noted the Yugoslavia travel on the "name check" forms submitted to the CIA."

It is possible that Gricar did some work for the CIA in the 70s and 80s in Yugoslavia, and the CIA is just automatically protecting its sources and operations. Or is it possible that Gricar's knowledge of the rich and powerful pedophilia ring around Penn State was what he needed to erase from the hard drive, and what the CIA needed to conceal?  Pedophilia rings are very useful in the intelligence racket.
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