Ray. Gricar, courtesy of CNN
[This story was posted on my Hugh Brady Conrad blog on blogspot on April 14, 2015, one that Google has summarily shut down for reasons that they have never detailed. I have added some more material in the addendum.]
… D.A. may be overseas
Now that the 10th anniversary of Ray Gricar's disappearance is upon us, I have identified the missing link to solving that case: Joseph O'Kicki.
Remember Cambria County Judge Joe O'Kicki, who was convicted of a vast array of crimes in Cambria County Court but who escaped from justice authorities in the U.S. and never served his time in prison?
Many people remember Gricar, the Centre County district attorney who disappeared ten years ago never to be heard from or seen again. His disappearance has mystified authorities and even sleuths.
The O'Kicki case goes back to the 1980s and early 90s, so many people may not remember him. However, he became an international fugitive from justice.
Police have tried to follow every lead with Gricar, but every one has run dry.
The Slovenian tie
Well, here is a key link between O'Kicki and Gricar: the Republic of Slovenia. I can see everyone suddenly racing to Wikipedia to find out what country I am discussing.
Slovenia is a small European country of approximately two million people that is now part of the European Union. Its capital is Ljubljana (I cannot pronounce it either). It was known as Yugoslavia at one time, which should help people with an ID. During World War II, it was first annexed by Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany, and then by Benito Mussolini and Fascist Italy, and then by Hungary.
So, what is the tie between these two men? After his conviction of a variety of crimes involving malfeasance in office, O'Kicki escaped from the U.S. to Canada and then to Slovenia, where his ancestors lived. It was also where he died in 1996.
The question has always been how the convicted judge managed to escape from the U.S. despite having a prison term hanging over him.
By a coincidence, Ray Gricar's relatives also immigrated to the U.S. from what is now Slovenia. According to the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Gricar visited there a few times. "Matt Rickard, who took over [as lead investigator] when Darrell Zaccagni retired in 2007, worked with Interpol to distribute fliers in Slovenia, the country of Gricar's ancestors and a place he visited twice in the late 1970s and early '80s while it was part of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia," the paper wrote today. The photos from Interpol never resulted in any trace of Gricar, at least not one that they will share with the public.
Gricar and Sandusky
Many people are fascinated by the tie between Gricar and Jerry Sandusky. As D.A., Gricar declined to prosecute the former Penn State football coach for illegal contact with a young boy in 1998 despite having what police felt was a solid case. That seems to be an interesting tie, but the one to Slovenia appears to be even better.
Gricar may have decided that the Sandusky evidence would not have been strong enough in court because it involved the testimony of only one child. Fair enough, although they had captured Sandusky on tape and in person. He admitted to showering with a naked, pre-pubescent boy, whom he squeezed in a 'friendly' manner.
The police have looked at a number of possibilities with Gricar: Murder, suicide, walking away from life. Some have even postulated that he is possibly in the witness protection program. He does not fit within the parameters of that program.
What makes his disappearance unusual is that he left money and a pension that were valued at more than a hundred thousand dollars. His laptop and hard drive have been found in the Susquehanna River, but the hard drive had been ripped out of the laptop for some reason.
The Gricar-O'Kicki alliance has not been listed previously by the police, although they do have evidence that they have not made public. One writer who explores rather strange topics, Bill Keisling, wrote about this potential link. Keisling was supposed to publish the book that O'Kicki warned people in Cambria County was forthcoming.
It never happened. The former judge threatened a list of people who had done damage to the O'Kicki case.
O'Kicki escaped to a country that did not have an extradition treaty with the U.S. until 2010. He was a bright guy who knew how to spend his last days as a somewhat free man until his death in Dec. 1996.
However, what is interesting is that his body may not have been returned to the U.S. In July 1998, Cambria Judge Jerry Long was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as doubting whether or not O'Kicki was actually dead: " 'I just wonder if he's really dead', Long shrugged."
Long was determining the fate of O'Kicki's second wife, Sylvia Onusic, who fled to Slovenia after she was accused of aiding in her husband's escape, in 1998. Long let her off with an ARD for first-time defenders even though she was alleged to have aided her husband leave the country.
Maybe the person who aided it was Gricar? Maybe the former D.A. is there now? Maybe, maybe, and maybe.
Onusic returned to America and earned a Ph.D. She is now a nutrition expert in the U.S. and has presented recipes from Slovenia. Her LinkedIn resume lists her as Director and Owner of "Taste of Slovenia: A real Food Tour." Yes, the tour is through Slovenia.
Certainly, Interpol has a great reputation for tracking down people in Europe, but Gricar is not fleeing justice. He is not at the top of their lists.
So, who aided Judge O'Kicki escape from the U.S. to finally land in Slovenia, a country without an extradition with the U.S.?
Could it have been Ray Gricar?
Well, Gricar is still missing, and he may have suffered the same fate as Jimma Hoffa, and like the former Teamsters’ chief, he may never be found.
Someday, a link may be found, but my guess is that he may have committed suicide. His brother did, which makes that theory fascinating.
As for O’Kicki, more than a year after this was posted, I received a comment on the blog that said this,
Hope you find Gricar.... I know where Okicki is.
This is obviously from his second wife, Sylvia Onusic, the woman who has earned a Ph.D. and is a nutrition specialist. I never heard from her again. I could contact her through LinkedIn, but have not.
Some of my friends who attended Bishop Carroll knew her. She taught Home Economics there, and as one of my friends said about her, “She was really a looker.”
My brother taught at B.C. with Onusic, but he was reluctant to say much about her and the relationship to O'Kicki. Surprising since during his later years when he had cancer and was getting things "off his chest," he talked about many things. She was not one of them.
The O’Kicki-Onusic relationship broke up his family and embittered his children and wife. They had another child on their own, and he is now an adult. He was apparently in Slovenia with his mother.