Similarities in the Luna and Gricar cases

Striking similarities are apparent in the
disappearances of both prosecutors

Posted April 20, 2005. 10:00pm. Updated August 1, 2005 -- Centre County, PA, DA Ray Gricar's disappearance and its attendant press coverage share striking resemblances to the equally mysterious fate of former Assisant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Luna, who was found dead after an inexplicable car ride in December 2003.


Top: Jonathan Luna and Ray Gricar
Middle: Heroin from Up Top
Bottom: 'Verbal' Lee chart

-- At the time of their disappearances, both prosecutors were involved in high-stakes heroin cases.

-- The drug suppliers in both cases were from the New York city area. "Bricks and bricks from foreign dudes up top," as Luna's FBI informant, Warren Grace, explains.

-- Both men disappeared on car rides, while they were alone.

-- Both men vanished without their cell phones. Luna's cell phone was found on his desk, while Gricar's was in his car. This seems to indicate misplaced trust, or perhaps a sudden interruption that called them away from their routine or expected activites.

-- Gricar's laptop, police say, was missing. (It turned up in the Susquehanna River more than three months after Gricar's disappearance, on July 30, 2005, without its hard drive.) Luna's laptop was found on his desk at work. At the time of Luna's death, Lancaster County, PA, coroner Barry Walp suggested that some of the 36 stab wounds inflicted on Luna's body appeared to have perhaps been intended to make him talk. "You would think they were perhaps after information from the guy when you see something like this," Coroner Walp told a local paper in December 2003. Gricar's disappearance follows on the heels of a widely distributed DVD titled, "Don't Snitch," in which retaliation is promised for those cooperating with drug prosecutions.

-- Both Luna and Gricar seem to have set out, for reasons unknown, perhaps to predetermined, out-of-the-way destinations, as if on a rendezvous with someone they trusted. Phone records apparently offer no clues. Or, both men may have been waylaid by a stalker or stalkers; Luna, while driving home, and Gricar, while shopping for antiques.

-- The press coverage of both disappearances also bear striking similarities. Unreliable or illogical sightings may offer false clues. The Centre Daily Times, in an April 20, 2005 article, reports Gricar's car was seen by employees of the Street of Shops antique market between 5 and 6pm on Friday evening, the day of his disappearance. The paper then quotes mall owner Craig Bennett, 48, as telling police investigators he witnessed a man fitting Gricar's description, wearing a blue fleece jacket, waiting in front of an uncompleted mall storefront about noon the following day, Saturday. "It appeared as though he was waiting for seomeone," the CDT quotes Bennett as saying. "It had all the look as if he was waiting for someone." It seems unlikely though that DA Gricar would leave his car overnight in the mall parking lot, not use his cell phone, and not check in when he was already feared missing on Saturday. Similar supposed sightings in the Luna case later failed to pan out.

-- Both men were subjected to unlikely suicide theories in the press.