By Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
More than 40 relatives and friends attended a private graveside service in California yesterday for Chandra Levy, five days after the D.C. medical examiner released her remains to the family.
The ceremony took place under sunny skies at Lakewood Memorial Park Cemetery in Hughson, outside Levy's home town of Modesto.
Levy, 24, disappeared about May 1, 2001, shortly after completing an internship with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It wasn't until more than a year later that her scattered remains were discovered in Rock Creek Park. The District's chief medical examiner, Jonathan L. Arden, ruled her death a homicide.
The medical examiner's office released most of the remains to Levy's family, keeping a sample of some specimens in case they are needed in the ongoing investigation into the slaying.
Rabbi Paul Gordon, of the family's temple, officiated at yesterday's service, reciting prayers in Hebrew and English. A temple choir sang. Levy's mother, Susan Levy, read a poem. Chandra Levy's brother, Adam, 21, said a few words, concluding that they were laying to rest her physical remains, but not her spirit.
"Her spirit lives within me and my parents," Adam Levy said, according to those at the service.
It ended with the release of 12 white doves, said Billy Martin, the family's Washington attorney, who was in attendance.
Levy's parents and brother "were crying and emotional," Martin said in a telephone interview. "The reality that Chandra has now been buried set in today. But they're resolved to continuing their effort to find the murderer or murderers."
A year ago, the family held a memorial service at a hotel convention center in Modesto that drew more than 1,000 people. Adam Levy also spoke at that service.
Investigators from the D.C. police department and the FBI have been focusing on sexual predators, looking for clues as to who may have been in the park around the time of her disappearance. Authorities remain interested in Ingmar Guandique, a 21-year-old man who was convicted of attacking two joggers in the park shortly after Levy disappeared. Guandique has denied any involvement in the Levy case.
The Levy mystery generated international attention after revelations that she 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 that he is not a suspect.
In a telephone interview after the ceremony, Susan Levy said: "It was great to have my daughter home in the physical form. In the spiritual form, she's with us all the time."
She said that it was difficult waiting for the medical examiner's office to release the remains but that she understood their importance to the investigation.
"It was hard," she said of the year-long wait. "But when we came home [today], it felt a little better. I felt a sense of peace knowing we honored her in the correct fashion."
But Susan Levy said the burial did not bring true closure. "There's never a sense of closure," she said. "There's always pain."
She said it was sad that her daughter could not pursue her career and "contribute to the world."
"I'm still angry I don't have my daughter here," she said.