A Wild Tale of Murder for Hire

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

By Sari Horwitz, Scott Higham and Sylvia Moreno

Washington Post Staff Writers

On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the Chandra Levy story quickly dropped off the front pages of newspapers around the world.

In Modesto, Calif., the satellite television trucks that had been parked outside Robert and Susan Levy's home pulled away. In Washington, law enforcement resources were shifted from Chandra's case to terrorism-related tasks.

It had been four months since Chandra disappeared. During one of her last Internet searches on the day she vanished, she had pulled up a map of Rock Creek Park. Police recruits had looked for her there. But neither the D.C. detectives nor the prosecutors on the case had focused on a man who confessed July 2 to his involvement in attacks on two women in the park.

The man, a 20-year-old Salvadoran named Ingmar Guandique, did not catch the attention of prosecutors until mid-September, when they heard that he allegedly told a jailhouse informant that he had killed Chandra.

On Sept. 21, Guandique was removed from his jail cell and brought to the U.S. attorney's office in Washington for questioning by prosecutors and D.C. detectives. He was accompanied by a public defender.

Guandique was shown a picture of Chandra. He said the only place he had ever seen her was on television.

That contradicted what a former Park Police detective later told The Washington Post. Joe Green, who interrogated Guandique on July 2, said that at that time he showed Chandra's picture to Guandique and the Salvadoran said he had seen her in the park.

Green was present at the meeting in the U.S. attorney's office. To this day, he does not remember that meeting or whether he passed on to D.C. police or prosecutors the information he said he got from Guandique. "I should have said something," Green would later comment.

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