WASHINGTON — Chandra Levy has been gone for a year now and her parents see no end to the uncertainty that fuels their anguish.
Susan and Dr. Robert Levy hope against hope their daughter, a former intern at the federal Bureau of Prisons, will come home alive. Absent that, they at least want to know what happened to her. And — they can barely bring themselves to say it — if she is dead, who killed her.
“We’re hoping and praying that somehow we’ll get answers and someone will help us,” Mrs. Levy said in a telephone interview. “Someone out there knows something.”
Levy, whose family lives in Modesto, was 24 when she disappeared without a trace one year ago Wednesday. The search for her drew little attention at first. From time to time, young women disappear in Washington.
But the case quickly commanded national interest when the name of Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., surfaced in the investigation.
“In my 10 years, I have never seen a case of a missing adult receive this much exposure,” said Kym Pasqualini, president of the Nation’s Missing Children Organization and Center for Missing Adults.
Condit, 54 and married, at first called Levy a good friend and established a reward fund to help find her. In July, he reportedly told police he was having an affair with Levy, although publicly he never made such a disclosure, saying only they shared a “close” relationship.
Investigators were irritated Condit was not more forthcoming soon after Levy disappeared, when they believe information might have made a difference. But they never identified Condit as a suspect.
Condit, who declined requests for an interview, has said from the outset he had nothing to do with the disappearance. And he disputes police statements that he was less than cooperative.
The Levys don’t buy that. They acknowledged a gnawing suspicion that Condit knows more than he’s saying. “As a mother, I can say that,” Susan Levy said.
The Levys said Condit’s son and campaign manager, Chad, called them a few months ago to ask how the investigation was going. “It was right when the campaign was starting,” Robert Levy said. “He said he wanted to mend fences between the families.”
There have been no conversations since.
Condit, abandoned by all but a few Democratic allies, lost the primary in March to former protege Dennis Cardoza, a state assemblyman. The defeat ended Condit’s 30-year election winning streak.
Police acknowledge they have no idea what happened to Levy; the investigation remains a missing persons case.
“The Metropolitan Police continue to work the case,” Terrance W. Gainer, Washington’s deputy police chief, said. “Beyond that, we have no leads.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington and the FBI also are involved. A grand jury has been reviewing Levy’s disappearance and whether Condit or his aides obstructed the investigation — an allegation Condit and his aides deny.
The grand jury subpoenaed documents from Condit last year. Its proceedings are secret, so it’s unclear whether Condit has appeared.
“We are trying to wrap it up as quickly as possible,” said Channing Phillips, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Roscoe Howard.
Phillips would not say whether Condit was subpoenaed to answer the grand jury’s questions.
Billy Martin, the Washington attorney representing the Levys, said private investigators he hired continue to uncover promising leads, which have been shared with authorities.
“We just need a break,” Martin said. “We need somebody to come forward and give us the missing piece of the puzzle.”
More than a week went by before police searched Levy’s studio apartment near Washington’s Dupont Circle. They found her wallet, credit card, computer and cell phone. Only her keys were missing.
Police were too late to retrieve the videotape from the security camera that recorded the comings and goings in Levy’s building. It already had been recorded over.
But after analyzing Levy’s cell phone and her computer, after interviewing neighbors and friends, after talking to Condit four times and searching his Washington apartment, investigators found nothing that brought them any closer to solving the case, Gainer said.
The Levys try to leave the detective work to others. They prefer to talk about what Chandra might be doing “if this hadn’t occurred,” as her father said. Had she returned to California last May as planned, she might have stayed and gotten a job in government or law enforcement, her two main interests, he said.
“I heard the FBI is looking for 900 new recruits,” her mother said. “Maybe she’d be doing that.”