BELLEFONTE - A former prosecutor who disappeared six years ago was declared dead Monday.
Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar disappeared on April 15, 2005, about nine months before he was to retire as the central Pennsylvania county's top prosecutor. He had taken a day off from work and had told his girlfriend that he was going for a drive. His car was found abandoned later.
Centre County Judge David Grine ruled Monday that Gricar be declared dead, the Centre Daily Times newspaper reported. The ruling allows Gricar's daughter, Lara Gricar, to begin to administer the estate and distribute his assets to his heirs.
Lara Gricar, who had asked for the death declaration, testified by phone that she believes "without a doubt" that her father is dead.
"It's time for this family to have closure," said attorney Amos Goodall, who represented Lara Gricar. "It's time for them to move on."
Under Pennsylvania law, a missing person can be presumed dead after seven years of unexplained absence. A judge can declare the missing person dead before seven years if presented with sufficient facts and circumstances.
Ray Gricar's car was found at an antiques market in Lewisburg, near the Susquehanna River, 45 miles from the Centre County seat in Bellefonte. His laptop was found in the river without its hard drive and was fished out of the river in October 2005.
In the days after Gricar's disappearance, his girlfriend told police he had discussed buying a program to clean the county-issue hard drive of private information before returning it.
Authorities had said they were considering all possibilities to explain the disappearance, including that Gricar was a homicide victim, that he committed suicide or that he was living in hiding for some unknown reason.
Goodall said if Gricar reappears, anyone who received distributions from his estate would have to return them.