Part IV: Conclusions
Paul Harvey's "The rest of the story"
When I tried cases, I would under the rules of engagement in criminal trials in Pennsylvania, always first stand to address the jury, outlining the Commonwealth's evidence and explaining the charges which it had brought, in what is called an "opening statement". The defense is free to wait until the prosecution has completed presenting its case before making its own opening statement, but there is a psychological edge to be gained by presenting the opposing viewpoint to the jury early on, and so in most cases when I would sit down the defense would then present its opening statement. With a fair amount of frequency, the defense statement would begin with "the Commonwealth's case sounds pretty cut and dried. But let us offer to you, as Paul Harvey says, 'the rest of the story'.
In that spirit, I offer what follows.
I suspect that if readers of Part III decide that Ray's family has been involved in the online discussion, a conclusion may be made by some that perhaps it only goes to illustrate that most likely Ray did 'walk out' on his life, or at least that his family firmly believes that to be the case. It would provide a plausible answer, perhaps the only plausible answer, for the early entreaties by his daughter and paramour made to himto return immediately after his disappearance. Perhaps determine that the forum activity is designed to induce some response from him on the assumption that he is alive and reading the discussion, wherever he may be, as the forum reaches across all geographical borders. A private ritual played out on a public discussion board for personal purposes and in which the general public has no legitimate role.
But before, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we mark this 'case closed', deeming Ray to have simply walked off into the sunset, Mel Wiley style, the ultimate non-victim abandoning his constituency, his colleagues, friends and family, let me ask you to do what defense counsel would have you do at trial, and think about 'the rest of the story'.
When any investigator, any juror, engages in the 'what really happened?' process, the goal is to find some explanation which incorporates all of the known facts, or at least all of those facts which are deemed to be of anysignificance. Proceeding on a theory which is consistent with parts of the information available but ignores other parts which one nonetheless has no reason to believe are inaccurate, pretty much guarantees a schewed result.
If walkoff is the presumption, how does it explain an unbroken series of law enforcement agencies and officials who insist that the investigation is ongoing and must remain highly secret? It has, after all, been more than once suggested publicly by those same agencies and officials that there is no law making it illegal for an adult, not known to have committed any crime, to simply walk away from his/her life without explanation. So if there is an articulable, specific reason to believe that walkoff occurred, what is there to investigate after 2 years? What is the need for secrecy?
From whence cometh the resistance to outside assistance in the investigation?
If suicide is the presumption, body long washed away to places unknown, how does this explain the same agencies and officials' insistence that the investigation is ongoing and must remain highly secret? Committing suicide (as opposed to aiding and abetting another's suicide) is not an actionable crime. So, again in this case, if there is an articulable, specific reason to believe that suicide occurred, what is there to investigate after 2 years? What is the need for secrecy? And once again, from whence cometh the resistance to outside assistance in the investigation?
The hypothetical 'reasonable man' is a fixture in the law. What would a reasonable person do?
How would a reasonable person in the same situation act/react? In this instance, how would a reasonable police officer, elected DA, state Attorney General act/react?
Is it consistent with human nature and common experience that an array of public agencies and officials, state and local, are all willing for two years to subject themselves to erosion of their public credibility, public criticism,public anger - insist on it in fact - in order to perpetuate an investigation in which there is no articulable reason for them to believe that a crime has occurred?
Is it consistent with human nature/common experience for these same individuals to dig in their respective heels against getting outside help to assist them, or turning over the investigation to others? Does simple logic alone not suggest they should be willing, ecstatic even, to get the ongoing headaches off their respective plates and onto the plates of others?
Is it consistent with human nature/common experience that the need for investigative secrecy would increase over time or that local media would need to be censored in its inquiries even more than two years after the incident?
This, to me, is 'the rest of the story', the wall against which you come up in any attempt to find a theory which is based on individual conduct--whether it's conduct by Ray's family, conduct by his paramour or conduct of Ray himself. None of it serves to explain the secrecy and the resistance to outside help which has spanned the involvement of Det. Zaccagni, Chief Dixon, First Asst. Smith, Interim Chief Holliday, DA Madeira, AG Corbett, Chief Weaver, and I suppose now by Det. Rikerd. One giant across-the-board stand down.
If there is one over-riding impression from the past 26 months for me it is the apparent focus on 'non-solution', the maintenance of the status quo, on not moving outside the shadow of 'three theories, all equally likely'. Not proof/disproof of suicide. Not proof/disproof of walkoff. Certainly not proof/disproof of foul play. Simply that Ray's disappearance cannot and will not ever be solved. Give us an update when he's officially declared 'dead'. And a couple-line blurb when the legal wrangling over his assets is done, so we know how that all turned out. When I first read JJ's explication of the Wiley case, it crossed my mind for a brief time to wonder, is it possible that Ray knew of the case and replicated it. It was a very brief time, however. Because it's one thing to say that he could have replicated the facts of a disappearance. And quite another to say he could have predicted the failure of the investigative effort which followed it.
Centre County law enforcement is light-years better than this. Ray Gricar was better than this.
And the legacy he left of years of forthright, honest searching for what was fair and just is better than this. One of my favorite recollections from JFK's 1960's book on courage is the account of the mid-West governor who determined that the Haymarket defendants, scheduled to be hanged, had been convicted on insufficient evidence and expressed his intent to pardon them for that reason. His political staff insisted that he consider whether the action was 'politic', which of course it was not and because it was not he subsequently lost his political career. As I recall, Kennedy's account was: "He thundered, 'It is RIGHT'. " So, too, is finding the truth in this case.
It would be great if something in this site, some minor detail, proves to be of assistance to those officially charged with finding answers. But its primary goal is to motivate ordinary Centre Countians to stand and demand the answers to which they are entitled.
Ray worked hard and long to make the voices of victims heard. It seems only somehow fair that at least one would be raised on his behalf.
To the late Rev. King, I hope this will suffice.
Free Web Counter