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Amid Relief, a 'Lifetime of Healing' Remains for Family and Friends

The return of huge media attention to their lives and their daughter's slaying is hard, says Susan Levy, standing with her husband, Robert, outside their home. "You go back to square one in the sense of emotional trauma."
The return of huge media attention to their lives and their daughter's slaying is hard, says Susan Levy, standing with her husband, Robert, outside their home. "You go back to square one in the sense of emotional trauma." (By Alfred Golub -- Associated Press)

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By Karl Vick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 22, 2009

MODESTO, Calif., Feb. 21 -- Chenault Drive emerges like a suburban mirage in the flat industrial farmland of the San Joaquin Valley. After endless miles of black fallow fields, gray orchards and fragrant feedlots, the street doubles as a haven, its prosperous homes separated by neatly trimmed lawns and exotic trees: birch, olive, royal palm and, on Saturday, the satellite dishes once again sprouting in front of the home of Robert and Susan Levy.

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"We have the trucks in the front of the house again," Chandra Levy's mother, Susan, informed her sister-in-law, who returned from vacation to a stack of messages from CNN. Susan Levy noted that she had already done about 40 interviews.

Word that an arrest could be imminent in the 2001 death of their daughter brought a stream of reporters to the white brick ranch all day. Each was greeted at the door by a middle-age man in a leather vest and a gray ponytail. Rick Muniz smiled grimly under the high overcast and introduced himself as a member of Wings of Protection, a group formed by the parents of missing and slain children.

"The media was here today and said, 'You have closure,' " said Muniz, who with his wife dug up the body of their son Jerome Joseph in 2001. He was 18. "There is no closure. For us, we have a lifetime of healing to do here."

The living room was arranged for interviews: two chairs facing the interviewer's. Cable and lights coiled on the carpet. On a black upright piano was an outsize lavender card that served as a backdrop: "Remembering the Courageous, Young Life of Chandra Levy. April 14, 1977 -- May 2001."

"The media here again to re-talk about things, to re-exhume the case, is very hard," Muniz said.

The parents agreed.

"Yeah, it's true," Susan Levy said. "It gets revived. You go back to square one in the sense of emotional trauma."

Robert Levy nodded from the seat to her left. Behind him were the pool and the horses. Life was good here.

"Because of what happened, we're always at a lower level," he said. "We're never what we were."

"The intensity is pretty amazing," Susan Levy said. "In this case, we've already gone through an intense period. This is another part."

"Part two," said the woman seated between the parents. Boni Driskill lost her daughter, Lacy Ferguson, in 2003. The homicide remains unsolved.


CONTINUED     1        >

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