IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Inside Dateline: Missing Pa district attorney

Correspondent Sara James on the tantalizing clues and lack of answers

May 12, 2006 |

Missing DA in Pennsylvania (Sara James, Dateline correspondent)

NBC's Sara James

Producer Rebecca Haggerty and I were enchanted by Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.  From the picturesque Victorian architecture to the warm, welcoming people, this is the kind of charming town where  "nothing ever happens, " lifelong resident Patty Fornicola told us.  Except something did. The boyfriend she lived with for three years vanished more than a year ago.  And 59-year-old Ray Gricar wasn't just anyone, but the District Attorney of Centre County.  Those searching high and low for Ray Gricar are his colleagues and friends, and being unable to provide an answer has left them both perplexed and vexed.  Did he run away to start a new life?  Did he commit suicide?  Or was this lawman murdered?  Authorities simply don't know.    

I can't imagine the agony of having someone I love just disappear.  Not knowing where they are, what's happened to them. A vigil with no end in sight. For Patty, for Ray's daughter, Lara, for all the friends and acquaintances who have spent countless hours searching,  I hope there are answers. And soon. Police have followed hundreds of leads, to no avail.  And while this case is filled with dead ends, there are a few  tantalizing clues which perhaps you could help police follow.  On the day he disappeared, Gricar was spotted talking to a tall, dark haired woman. Who is she?   Why hasn't she come forward?  If you know something about the identity of that mystery woman, I  hope you will call.  And there's also a report of a man who appeared to be a construction worker, smoking a cigarette, seen talking to a man in a red Mini Cooper, possibly Gricar.  If so, who was the man?

One reason I became a reporter is because I'm obsessed with getting answers.  That's true in every story I cover. It's especially true this time, because I could see etched into the faces of all those I met how agonizing it is to be left with only  uncertainty.  Because more than a year later, the questions remain.   What happened to Ray Gricar?  Where is he?  All police know for sure is that he is one of the missing.

Do you have information regarding the disappearance of Centre County, Pennsylvania District Attorney Ray F. Gricar? Call Bellefonte Police Department at (814) 353-2320.

March 31, 2006 |

Around the world on the trail of the story of Christ's death (Sara James, Dateline Correspondent)

Check out Sarah's video blogs while on the trail of the mystery of 'The Jesus Papers.' .


On sisterhood, family: When a story hits close to home (Sara James, Dateline Correspondent)

Sometimes when you report, it hits especially close to home. That's how I felt when I got a call to work on . Erin is a writer for Glamour magazine and and also lives in New York. And like me, Erin is one of three sisters. 

I'm the oldest, she's in the middle, but since we're both one third of a trio,  I felt I knew something about her before we met. I knew that she and her sisters  occasionally would have argued over everything from sweaters to boyfriends to who got the bathroom first. But I knew just as surely that she would do anything for them and they would for her, just as my sisters and I would.

But we haven't been tested, and Erin and her sisters have.  Tested in a way  I can scarcely imagine. Tested in a way that cuts to the heart of what it means to be family.  What it means to be a sister.  What you would do, if. 

This is a story about three amazing women who dealt with a frightening medical ordeal with love, humor and pluck.  They reminded me of how lucky I am to have sisters.  In fact, as soon as I finished the interviews,  I called my own sisters Elizabeth and Susan and told them they had to watch. After all, as they know better than anyone, I've always been the bossy eldest. 

But working on this story also reminded me that whether you rely on  sisters or brothers your parents or your friends: to love someone is to be willing to sacrifice for them.  Erin and her sisters did just that, and their story inspired me.