The mystery of Chandra Levy continues after eight months

By Mark Sherman The Associated Press
Thursday December 27, 2001

WASHINGTON — No suspects. No telltale clues. Not even a trace of Chandra Levy has surfaced in the baffling case of the missing federal intern. 

Nearly eight months after the 24-year-old disappeared in Washington, police are no closer to finding her, despite the avalanche of publicity the case has received because of Levy’s link to Rep. Gary Condit, D-Ceres, Calif. 

“No new developments to report, let’s put it that way,” Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman, said last week. 

Two police detectives and an FBI agent who specializes in difficult cases remain assigned to the investigation, considerably less manpower than the scores of officers pressed into service last summer to scour Washington parks and buildings. 

Levy’s parents, Dr. Robert and Susan Levy of Modesto, Calif., asked as far back as June that police treat the disappearance as a crime, which might have allowed police to be more aggressive in questioning people and their search for clues. Gentile, however, said the case remains a missing person investigation because there is no evidence of a crime. 

“We know they’re still working on it and we hope they’ll be able to help us solve it, to find Chandra, hopefully alive,” Levy’s father said in a telephone interview. “Or if not, to find out what happened.” 

Susan Levy described the mystery as “a living hell.” 

Billy Martin, the Levys’ Washington lawyer, said Levy most likely was the victim of a “well-planned kidnapping and removal.” 

Had Levy been the victim of a random attack, Martin believes and police agree, her body probably would have been found by now. Police also probably would have found some physical evidence — blood, for instance — in or near her apartment. 

“It’s highly unusual for no evidence of Chandra or her whereabouts to turn up, which leads us to conclude that Chandra has met with some professional or professionals who have removed every trace of her,” said Martin, a former federal prosecutor. 

Levy lost her job as an intern in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in late April. She was last seen April 30 at a gym near her apartment. Police believe she spent the morning of May 1 surfing the Internet. Her parents received an e-mail from her that day that discussed airplane fares for her planned trip home to receive a graduate degree in public administration from the University of Southern California. 

Her trail ends there, and interviews with friends, neighbors, co-workers, employees at the gym she frequented and Condit have shed little light on what might have happened to her. 

Several days elapsed before Levy’s parents called police and Condit, their congressman, to say she was missing. When police searched her apartment a few days later, they found her wallet, computer and luggage. Only her keys were missing. 

They also stopped by Condit’s apartment around the same time for the first of four interviews with the congressman. 

Condit failed to tell investigators he was having an affair with Levy until his third interview, more than two months after Levy vanished, a police source says. He has denied any involvement in her disappearance and police say he is not a suspect. 

Martin said police could have done more early in the investigation, when leads and memories were fresher. 

“There were numerous leads, surveillance photos from apartment buildings in the immediate area, several things that could have been done that were not done,” Martin said. “But I can’t be critical of the police because they did not feel at that time that a crime had been committed.” 

Martin had stronger criticism for Condit, who Martin said was neither candid nor cooperative with investigators in the days after Levy disappeared. 

Condit has said no one in Washington “has been more cooperative” than he, although police expressed exasperation that they needed several interviews to get what they considered a complete picture of Condit’s relationship with Levy as well as his reconstruction of her comings and goings in late April. 

While the investigation continues, the media coverage has waned since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Gone are the news cameras that were a fixture at locations in California and Washington, including Levy’s apartment. There, the only visible reminder of Levy is a weathered yellow ribbon that hugs a tree near the building’s entrance. 

The building manager says he can’t bring himself to take it down. 


On the Net: 

Condit: http://www.house.gov/gcondit 

Washington police: http://www.mpdc.org