Chandra Levy’s death a homicide, but little evidence exists

By Mark Sherman, The Associated Press
Wednesday May 29, 2002

WASHINGTON — Someone killed Chandra Levy, but there’s too little evidence to say how or who might have left her body on a rugged park hillside a year ago, Washington’s medical examiner said Tuesday. 

Six days after the 24-year old former intern’s remains were found in sprawling Rock Creek Park, Dr. Jonathan Arden ruled the death a homicide but said the exact cause may never be known. 

Washington Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey emphatically said his investigators, who have been baffled by Levy’s disappearance for nearly 13 months, will find the killer. “We will solve this case, I guarantee you that,” Ramsey said at a news conference outside police headquarters. 

Three thousand miles away, more than 1,000 mourners joined Levy’s parents at a memorial for the former U.S. Bureau of Prisons intern in her hometown of Modesto, Calif. 

“Somebody went to extraordinary means to conceal Chandra’s body,” Billy Martin, the Levy family attorney, said after the service. “We hope that this case will not go unsolved.” 

Arden said he did not have enough evidence to say conclusively how Levy died, or whether she was killed where the remains were found. 

“However, the circumstances of her disappearance and her body on recovery are indicative that she died through the acts of another person, which is the definition of a homicidal manner of death,” Arden said. 

Later, in a telephone interview, he said Levy’s skull, which police reported was damaged, was fractured after she died. Among other potential causes of death, Arden said, “I did not see the evidence of a gunshot, stab wound or beating.” 

Other medical examiners said those telltale signs makes strangulation a more likely cause of death. Arden said strangulation is difficult to diagnose when examining only bones. 

The announcement “was pretty much what we expected,” said Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, which is part of the investigation team. 

Among the hypotheses police are considering is that Levy was killed elsewhere and her body was dumped down the steep hill not far from a picnic and parking area, a law enforcement source said. Police have scoured the Grove 17 picnic area for clues.