washingtonpost.com
Lack of Answers Frustrates Family of Missing Woman
Parents Travel From California to Press D.C. Police

By Arthur Santana
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 16, 2001

The parents of a missing woman who recently completed an internship in Washington flew from California yesterday to learn more about her disappearance, a trip borne of frustration with the information they have received from D.C. police, a family spokeswoman said.

"They are fuming at the lack of cooperation, and they want some answers," Jennifer Baker said of Chandra Ann Levy's parents, Susan and Robert Levy. "They have no idea what's going on with the investigation."

Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer attributed any lack of communication to the fact that police have reached no conclusions in the case. Although Levy, 24, disappeared more than two weeks ago, police "have no information yet that's very helpful to us," he said. He also declined to say whether foul play is suspected. "We're keeping an open mind," he said.

Gainer added that he's not surprised that her family and friends are frustrated with police. "They're looking for answers, and we don't have them yet," he said.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, near Levy's home town of Modesto, was asked by the family to act as a go-between to try to obtain more information from D.C. police, but its efforts were rebuffed, a department spokesman said yesterday.

Detective Mario Cisneros arrived in Washington on Friday, the spokesman, Kelly Huston, said. On Monday, D.C. police requested information the department had gathered, but officers told the California department to cease further investigation and advised Cisneros to go home, Huston said.

"There was really not much explanation to it," Huston said. "It's a little odd in that we obviously have access to people out here that knew her. . . . It was surprising that they said they didn't need our help."

Gainer disputed the claim by the sheriff's office that D.C. police had told it to stop investigating. "We would not have the authority to tell them what to do," he said. However, he added, "At this moment, we didn't need their assistance. . . . They don't have law enforcement authority in the District of Columbia."

Chandra Levy hasn't been seen since April 30, when she canceled her membership at the Washington Sports Club, several blocks from her apartment on the western fringe of downtown, as she prepared to move back to California, D.C. police said.

Levy was to return to Modesto on May 9 before attending her graduate school commencement ceremony at the University of Southern California last Friday in Los Angeles, police said. She had worked in Washington as an intern at the Federal Bureau of Prisons and was completing her graduate work in public administration.

Sgt. Joe Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman, said yesterday that police still considered Levy's disappearance a missing persons case and that there was no evidence to suggest that a crime had been committed. "We're not ruling anything out," Gentile said.

When police searched Levy's apartment May 10 in the 1200 block of 21st Street NW, where she lived alone, they found no signs of a struggle, they said. However, personal items such as credit cards, her driver's license and packed luggage were found.

Gentile said yesterday that police searched Levy's apartment again Monday night for "any possible forensic evidence." He and Gainer declined to say what, if anything, was found. Police officials could not say how many times police had searched Levy's apartment.

The FBI is involved in the case, Gainer said yesterday, but he declined to say how the federal agents are helping police, other than "from a forensic point of view." FBI officials also declined to detail their role.

The case may have "some interstate aspects to it, given where she was from," Gainer added. He declined to elaborate but said there is no indication that Levy was kidnapped.

Baker, a friend of Levy's from California who spent time with her in Washington last fall when both were interns here, said Levy wants to become an FBI agent. "We talked about that quite a bit," she said. "That's her goal, her dream."

Baker said Levy mentioned in late November a new boyfriend who worked with the FBI and last mentioned him in an e-mail in January. Baker said the two never talked in detail about the man. "She didn't tell me much about him," Baker said. "It just didn't seem important at the time."

Gentile declined to say whether police were searching for such a man, and Gainer said he was unaware that Levy had a boyfriend. "People need to know that kind of thing," Baker said. "Should they be looking for a certain guy?"

Rep. Gary A. Condit (D-Calif.), who represents the Modesto area, on Thursday added $10,000 from his campaign treasury to the $15,000 reward the family has offered for information that leads to Levy's return.

"Chandra is a great person and a good friend," Condit said in a statement. "We hope she is found safe and sound."

Baker, who interned in Condit's office in Washington, said that as far as she knew, Levy went to Condit's office once, in October, for a brief, casual meeting. Condit could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Staff writer David A. Fahrenthold contributed to this report.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company