"We're over five years now," Gricar's nephew, Tony Gricar, told AOL News. "[We've] been pulled in 900 different directions [and] my own theories vary, depending on which way the wind is blowing."
Ray Gricar was 59 years old in April 2005. He had served as the district attorney of Centre County for nearly 20 years and was preparing to retire at the end of the year. Gricar's career was a success, he was involved in a happy relationship with a woman who worked in his office and he was close to his 27-year-old daughter, Lara. Gricar, by all accounts, had lived a pleasant life and was looking forward to an ideal retirement.
Gricar failed to return home later that night, and calls to his cell phone went unanswered. Concerned, Fornicola contacted Bellefonte police and reported him missing.
The following day, Gricar's red and white 2004 Mini Cooper was found locked and abandoned in a Lewisburg parking lot, not far from the Susquehanna River. Gricar was nowhere to be found. A search of his vehicle did not indicate a struggle or any sign of foul play, but investigators did find cigarette ashes inside the vehicle.
"Now we're not talking a lot. [It was] some minute cigarette ash on the passenger's side," Bellefonte police officer Darrell Zaccagni told The Cleveland Free Times in 2005. "When they opened the car ... a cigarette smell came out of the car. Ray didn't smoke. And he never let anybody smoke inside his Mini Cooper. Ray was very fastidious about his car."
Gricar's cell phone was locked inside the vehicle, but his keys and other personal effects, including his wallet, were missing. Search dogs were brought in, but they were unable to pick up on Gricar's scent.
Investigators questioned nearby store owners about Gricar. At least one thought he had seen the district attorney inside his shop on the day he disappeared and another was certain he saw Gricar speaking with an unknown woman, but whether or not the man they saw was Gricar remains unclear.
A search of the Centre County home that Gricar and Fornicola shared also failed to produce any leads. None of his personal belongings was missing, but his work laptop was nowhere to be found.
Gricar, for all intents and purposes, had vanished.
"It's the hardest thing I've ever had to go through. In some ways, it's worse than having a parent die, I think, because you have no closure. I just want to know where my dad is," Lara Gricar said in a 2005 interview with The Centre Daily Times.
In the days that followed, the FBI, along with Pennsylvania State Police investigators, was called in to assist in the case. Speculation soon turned to suicide -- a subject the Gricar family is all too familiar with.
In May 1996, Roy J. Gricar -- Ray Gricar's brother and Tony Gricar's dad -- disappeared in Dayton, Ohio. His car was found abandoned across the street from the office where his son worked. A search of the area was conducted, but authorities found no trace of Roy Gricar.
"He was missing for a few days before his body turned up in the [Great Miami] River," Tony Gricar said. "He was a mile down the river. His body found one morning by joggers on a bike path that runs by there."
The coroner later ruled Roy Gricar's death a suicide by drowning. He reportedly had been fired from his job as a private contractor at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in the days leading up to his death and had suffered from bipolar disorder.
Tony Gricar is uncertain what to think when he looks back on his dad's death.
"He was not a swimmer," Tony said of his father. "He was not a fan of water. So, if there has ever been anything questionable about my dad's suicide, that is it. It's sort of like if you're afraid of fire, you're not going to set yourself on fire. So that is the one question that's always been in the back of my mind. Other than that, it's cut and dry."
Fearing Ray Gricar might have taken his own life, investigators conducted an extensive search of the Susquehanna River but were unable to locate any sign of the district attorney.
Tony Gricar admits the similarities between his dad's case and that of his uncle are eerie.
"When we got the phone call our uncle was missing, we headed down," he said. "When we got there it was exactly the same scenario in terms of proximity of the vehicles to the water. Geographically speaking, it was identical. It was, in fact, a mirror opposite as far as what side of the bridge the car was found."
Nevertheless, he is not yet ready to settle on that theory, noting that the water was not very deep and the drop from the bridge was only about 25 feet at the time his uncle went missing.
"It is not a drop that will kill you," Tony Gricar said. "He also had some swimming capability. That time of the year you're looking more at hypothermia than anything else."
He added, "It's a pleasure-boating river. A few miles down there are pontoon boats. So, between sport fishers, hunters and the sheer number of boats they had out there searching and the aerial searches, they would have found something."
Although Ray Gricar's body has not been found, two men fishing in the river in July 2005 found his missing laptop lodged against a support under the bridge. The laptop, while obviously severely damaged by exposure to the water, was complete -- minus the hard drive.
Roughly two months after Gricar's laptop was recovered, a woman walking along the banks of the river discovered the hard drive. It was near a railroad bridge, about half a mile from the parking lot where Gricar's Mini Cooper was recovered. Unfortunately for investigators, the hard drive was so severely damaged that they were unable to retrieve any information from it. Whatever clues the laptop might have held were long since destroyed.
After the missing hard drive was found, the case quickly grew cold. Sporadic sightings of Gricar were reported throughout Pennsylvania and other states, but none yielded any results.
Investigators explored a variety of possibilities but were unable to say for certain what might have happened. Polygraph examinations were given to several family members, but no people of interest developed.
According to Tony Gricar, the one thing that never made sense to police was his uncle's financial situation.
"He was making a fair amount of money; but, at least from a forensic accounting standpoint, the thought is there that there should have been more cash," he said. "But, for somebody from his generation, which [preferred to] deal in cash, what is the appropriate amount that should be sitting in an account?"
In April 2009, investigators made a startling announcement in the case when they revealed the context of Internet searches that had allegedly been conducted on Gricar's home computer. According to police, someone had researched various ways of destroying computer hard drives in the weeks leading up to Gricar's disappearance. A coincidence or a vital clue? No one knows.
The case again made headlines last March, when newly elected District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller announced that she had assembled a task force of investigators to review the Gricar case.
"Everybody, out of respect and deference for Ray Gricar, everybody is willing to do whatever it takes to solve the mystery. ... The only thing I will say is that I believe homicide is the least likely, but we rule out nothing," Miller told The Centre Daily Times.
Gricar's nephew is aware of the probe but says the family has yet to receive any updates from police.
There are three possible scenarios in the case and, according to Tony Gricar, none really fits.
Runaway: "The runaway doesn't make a lot of sense. It never has," Tony Gricar said. "I guess if you want to oversimplify it -- what's the point? There's been nothing. No scandal tied to the office or anything that would allude to that. If he wanted to do his own thing, why not wait the few months until his scheduled retirement? It really doesn't make much sense."
Homicide: "He was in the midst of being a part of the largest drug ring bust in central PA history -- a heroin deal," Tony Gricar said. "But it was a [small] amount compared to anywhere else, so there was no point to off a prosecutor or, as some have speculated, for him to go into witness protection."
Suicide: "If you want to go the suicide route, anybody can commit suicide," Tony Gricar said. "But there are none of those indicators that typically go along with it. He obviously could have had an undiagnosed or hidden depression -- it obviously runs in the family -- but why?"
Tony Gricar said he is constantly swinging back and forth among the theories. Asked whether he believes his uncle is still alive, he replied, "Alive? Hell, I don't know."
Neither District Attorney Miller nor Bellefonte police returned calls for comment from AOL News today. Lara Gricar declined to comment.
"I am not interested in participating in your story," she said when contacted by AOL News.
According to an article published earlier this month by The Centre Daily Times, the task force has started interviewing people who were close to the missing district attorney.
"They told me that they had never heard of most of the information I was giving them, that clearly I knew him better than anyone they had ever spoken with, and that I was telling them some very remarkable and interesting facts about Ray," former Assistant District Attorney Steve Sloane told the newspaper.
"NamUs has a rich dental profile for Gricar and potential matches are actively being compared," Todd Matthews, NamUs' regional system specialist, told AOL News. "There's also a complete DNA profile for Gricar in the system. Cases are added to the system on a daily basis, so they stay in a constant state of comparison."
For now, the mystery remains, but Tony Gricar says it is one he would like to see end sooner rather than later.
"My dad was missing for a few days before his body turned up," he said. "We had the luxury of finding him -- which is sad to say -- but we haven't had that in this case. It is disappointing."