By Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 1, 2003
Investigators in the Chandra Levy homicide case are continuing to look into the possibility that she was killed by a sexual predator in Rock Creek Park and are focusing on a few dozen sex offenders, including some in prison, law enforcement sources said.
Today, exactly two years after the 24-year-old vanished, investigators are still seeking clues. They have eliminated "several dozen" predators as potential suspects but still have plenty more on a list of offenders who were in the Washington area on May 1, 2001, including Ingmar Guandique, who was convicted of attacking two joggers in the park, the sources said.
"We still don't have any breaks in the case, but it's being worked," said D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who declined to discuss specifics. "It's going to take a break. Eventually, we'll get a break. You never give up."
Levy's parents, Robert and Susan Levy, still hold out hope of an arrest in a case that once commanded international attention. The Levys live in Modesto, Calif., and Susan Levy said she "felt the cosmic connection" to another highly publicized case: the slaying of Laci Peterson, 27, the substitute teacher who vanished from her Modesto home in December.
Both Chandra Levy and Laci Peterson were vibrant, attractive young women who mysteriously disappeared. Peterson's body was found in San Francisco Bay on April 14, what would have been Levy's 26th birthday. Peterson's husband has been charged with murder.
"What happened to Laci Peterson has hit me very, very, very hard . . . especially when it was on my daughter's birthday that they found her," Susan Levy said in an interview.
Chandra Levy vanished shortly after completing an internship with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Washington and just before she planned to move back to Modesto.
The last confirmed sighting of Levy came April 30, 2001, the night she canceled her membership at a gym on Connecticut Avenue NW, several blocks from her apartment.
Levy's skeletal remains were found May 22, 2002, in Rock Creek Park in a hilly, heavily wooded area along Broad Branch Road NW. Her leggings were knotted at the bottom of both ends, leading some authorities to suspect that she may have been restrained and sexually assaulted.
The case attracted international attention after revelations that Levy was having an affair with then-Rep. Gary A. Condit (D-Calif.), who represented her home town. From the start, Condit denied involvement in her disappearance, and authorities have said they have no evidence otherwise.
Sources said authorities remain interested in Guandique, 21, who is serving a 10-year federal prison term for attacking two female joggers at knifepoint in Rock Creek Park within weeks after Levy disappeared. Both joggers escaped unharmed.
Guandique and his lawyer have said he had nothing to do with Levy's death.
"There is no evidence linking Mr. Guandique to Ms. Levy's death," Julia Leighton, general counsel for the D.C. Public Defender Service, said in a written statement. "The only relationship between Mr. Guandique and the Levy case are periodic quotes from law enforcement sources to the press that coincide with lulls in law enforcement's investigation."
Authorities also are taking a second look at Albert W. Cook Jr., 26, who is serving a life sentence in the Jan. 24, 2001, killing of jogger Sue Wen Stottmeister in the Montgomery County section of Rock Creek Park, sources said. But he is much lower on the list of people authorities are checking, they said.
Law enforcement sources said investigators are not focusing on Condit as a suspect. Authorities interviewed him four times in 2001, subpoenaed his bank, phone and credit card records, took a DNA sample and searched his Adams Morgan condominium, which he has since sold.
In the past year, a grand jury working on the case subpoenaed Condit and some of his former and then-current staff members. The grand jury also subpoenaed relatives and friends of Guandique. Susan and Robert Levy testified before the grand jury, providing insights about their daughter.
Condit, 55, chose to exercise his right not to appear before the panel. The grand jury has investigated allegations that he obstructed justice in the probe. He has denied any wrongdoing, and sources said it is unlikely Condit will face charges of obstruction unless he is somehow tied to Levy's death.
Condit lost his reelection bid last year after seven terms in Congress. He is temporarily living in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife, Carolyn, trying to chart his future, said his attorney, L. Lin Wood of Atlanta. "He's using this time to sort out what he's going to do with the rest of his life. He's a young man. He's got to find a way to make a living," Wood said, adding that Condit was unfairly harmed by publicity.
"Unlike some former Washington politicians, he has not been offered some cushy state job or lobbying position," Wood said.
Condit and his wife have three multimillion-dollar libel lawsuits pending against tabloids and a magazine columnist.
Susan Levy, who at one time accused Condit of withholding potentially valuable information from investigators, declined to talk about him in the recent interview.
But she had plenty to say about the Laci Peterson case. She attended a prayer vigil for Peterson's family and hugged the parents. Before the body was found, she said, she helped search for Peterson on horseback near a reservoir.
She said cases such as Peterson's slaying have made the healing process even harder for her.
"Every time you hear another family loss like that, it's like having a sore and it rips off the band-aid and it never heals," she said.
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.