Levy's Mom Meets With D.C. Chief Of Police

Susan Levy with attorney Steve A. Mandell. In a meeting with D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier about her daughter's unsolved homicide, Levy said,
Susan Levy with attorney Steve A. Mandell. In a meeting with D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier about her daughter's unsolved homicide, Levy said, "there was empathy" and trust. (By Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)
By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 25, 2007

Susan Levy has been to Washington dozens of times in pursuit of information on the killer -- or killers -- of her daughter, Chandra, six years ago.

But yesterday, Levy got something she has never received from a senior D.C. police official: a hug.

Levy and her attorney, Steve A. Mandell, went to police headquarters to seek an update on the unsolved case from the city's new chief, Cathy L. Lanier. Levy stood up and extended her hand when Lanier walked into the fifth-floor conference room. The two had never met, but Lanier immediately embraced her.

The gesture startled Levy, but it set the tone for the meeting between the women, which was scheduled to last about 30 minutes. But 90 minutes later, they were still talking, not only about the twists and turns in the highly publicized homicide case, but also about their lives as women and mothers. Chandra Levy was 24 when she disappeared May, 1, 2001. Lanier has a son who is 24.

"There was empathy. Only another mother would know how a mother feels. That feminine energy that we share. A trust that was there," Levy said, sitting in Mandell's office after the meeting.

Levy said she and Lanier discussed theories and potential suspects, as she has with previous District police officials. But she said Lanier allowed her to discuss her feelings about the case, too.

"She understood a woman's intuition, and she knows how to trust that," Levy said. "She didn't just dismiss them."

Levy, of Modesto, Calif., first came to Washington in the days after her daughter's disappearance, trying to keep pressure on police to find the missing federal intern. The case was soon getting round-the-clock attention from cable networks amid revelations that Levy was having an affair with her hometown congressman, Gary A. Condit (D-Calif.). Police have said Condit, who lost a bid for reelection, is not a suspect in the disappearance or slaying.

It wasn't until a year later that Chandra Levy's body was found in Rock Creek Park. Forensic evidence from the park hasn't been conclusive, largely because Levy's remains were exposed to humidity, wind, rain and snow for more than a year.

Authorities think that Levy was killed in the park and was possibly sexually assaulted. But that theory has yielded no breaks in the case.

A D.C. police spokeswoman, Traci L. Hughes, said that the meeting between Lanier and Levy "went very well" and that Lanier "promised to remain in constant contact with the family and give the family updates."

Hughes said that although the Levy case is important to Lanier and her detectives, Lanier is devoting just as "much time to this case as she would every case."

Despite the assurances that the case is active, Levy said the meeting was difficult. "This is a painful time for me," she said.

Levy said she is worried that the retirement of Brad Garrett, the FBI's lead investigator on the case, will stall the probe. D.C. police investigators are now taking the lead, which made Levy view yesterday's meeting as all the more critical.

Levy hasn't been in Washington since October 2005, when she was escorted to a District police station that houses the belongings of homicide victims. There, she was able to collect some of her daughter's most prized possessions, including her Frank Sinatra tapes, jewelry and clothes. The family has created a Web site -- http://www.whokilledchandra.com-- that they and their attorney use to generate tips and leads. Yesterday, Levy would not publicly talk about her views about potential suspects and theories.

Levy said she is "hopeful" that her daughter's case will be solved, but the years without an arrest are clearly taking a toll.

"I was full of hope that my daughter would be found alive," she said. "I'm not sure about hope these days."

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