By Petula Dvorak and Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 15, 2001
MODESTO, Calif. -- The parents of missing intern Chandra Levy urged U.S. Rep. Gary A. Condit to break his public silence yesterday, and spoke of the agony they have suffered since their daughter disappeared more than six weeks ago.
"I think he could come out and share what he does know. We would appreciate his help," Susan Levy said, referring to Condit.
The California Democrat has not commented publicly on Levy's disappearance since releasing a printed statement about a month ago in which he called Chandra Levy "a great person and a good friend." His aides have denied a romance between the two.
"I don't know what [Susan Levy] is referring to," Mike Lynch, Condit's chief of staff in his office in Modesto, said last night. "As far as I know, the police have said he's cooperated all along." He added: "Any speculation in the press [about any connection between Condit and Levy's disappearance] is sheer and utter nonsense."
Law enforcement sources cited by The Washington Post last week said Condit told D.C. police that Levy had spent the night at his Adams Morgan apartment. The congressman did not say whether the two were romantically involved, the sources said. They added that the missing intern had told a close relative that she was romantically involved with Condit.
Aides to the congressman and a lawyer representing him have denied that Condit told police that Levy spent the night. The relative -- who is not either of Levy's parents -- confirmed yesterday in an interview that Chandra Levy "confided in me she was having a relationship with Congressman Condit. She cared a lot about him."
On an extraordinary day in this high-profile missing persons case, the Levys pleaded to Condit on national television and D.C. police announced that they had asked a grand jury to subpoena records relating to Levy's disappearance.
In an interview with The Washington Post, the Levys said they do not want to dwell on any possible romantic relationship between their daughter and the congressman. But they said any new details investigators can learn might shed some light on their daughter's days before her disappearance. Police have said they have no suspects in the case -- and that they have no evidence of a crime.
Susan Levy said Chandra had spoken to her of a relationship in Washington without identifying the person. She said she learned the details from the relative and called her daughter in April and asked her if the man she had been seeing was Gary Condit.
"When I asked her that," according to Levy, "Chandra said, 'How did you know?' "
Susan Levy said that when she realized in early May that her daughter was not simply unreachable, but had gone missing, she called Condit, her hometown congressman, and asked him for help in finding her. At one point, she said she asked him if he was having an affair with her daughter, an intern for the Bureau of Prisons.
"He told me no, that their relationship was professional," Levy said.
Lynch said last night he didn't know if that particular conversation took place. He added that, to the best of his knowledge, Susan Levy called Condit at his home in Ceres, a suburb of Modesto, on the night of May 6 and asked for help finding her daughter, saying that police didn't seem to be taking the case seriously.
Lynch said Condit called police the next morning on his way to the airport to return to Washington. He subsequently offered $10,000 from his campaign treasury to a reward fund.
"The Levys are in our prayers, and they have our full and total support," Lynch said.
Lynch also said yesterday that Condit's wife, Carolyn, who lives in Ceres, was in Washington from April 28 to May 3.
Carolyn Condit was in town, Lynch said, to attend a function of the Congressional Wives Club hosted by first lady Laura Bush. Carolyn Condit typically visits Washington two or three times a year, he said.
Susan and Robert Levy have a rigorous schedule of interviews almost daily. In the mirrored foyer of their home, they have a portrait of their daughter and the University of Southern California master's degree she had earned, but never held in her hand. They invite camera crews into their ranch home, offer them a cold soft drink and explain how badly they want to know what happened to their daughter.
But they are trying to do this carefully, to follow the scraps of information their missing daughter has left behind without jumping to conclusions.
Chandra canceled her membership at the Washington Sports Club on Connecticut Avenue NW on April 30. At some point, she e-mailed some super-saver airfares to her mother. She also told Susan Levy that she might take the train home.
Then, nothing. Susan and Robert Levy got the e-mail about the airfares on the morning of May 1, and they called her phone until the answering machine was full of their pleas, Robert Levy said.
When police finally went into her apartment in the 1200 block of 21st Street NW, they found a refrigerator empty except for a few pasta leftovers and her favorite peanut butter cups, two packed bags, a cell phone, all of the intern's credit cards and identification, her running shoes and all her jewelry except for a small gold ring with a diamond chip and her initials.
Susan and Robert Levy collapse deep into their sofas every night. Robert Levy, who returned to work as an oncologist this week, spends the evenings with his head on his wife's shoulder. He said he knows there must be someone who knows where his daughter is.
District police officials said that although they had asked a grand jury to subpoena records relating to Levy's disappearance, they still consider it a missing-persons case and not a criminal matter.
According to D.C. law, phone records and client information from Internet service providers and banks can be obtained only through a grand jury subpoena, said Cmdr. Jack Barrett, the police department's chief of detectives.
In the first week of the investigation, D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said, police went to a sitting grand jury and asked to subpoena records. Recently, he said, detectives decided to ask for more subpoenas, though he wasn't sure if the request had already been made. Citing confidentiality rules, he said he couldn't reveal whose records had been subpoenaed.
In general, a grand jury's job is to determine whether there is probable cause that a crime has been committed.
Mike Dayton, an aide in Condit's office on Capitol Hill, has said that Levy first went to the congressman's office in early October with her friend Jennifer Baker, a fellow Californian who was working as an intern for Condit. Levy returned to the office about six times in subsequent months, Dayton has said, usually to ask for such things as White House tour tickets or for schedules of Capitol Hill events.
Dvorak reported from California. Staff writers David A. Fahrenthold and Brooke A. Masters contributed to this report.