Father recalls Levy's vanishing
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
A somber Robert Levy took the stand Tuesday at the trial for the man charged with killing his daughter. Sometimes defiant and often reticent, Levy described his growing anxiety over her disappearance more than nine years ago, and he denounced the former congressman who was the major focus of suspicion early in the investigation.
Levy sat just feet from Ingmar Guandique, the man police say raped and killed his daughter May 1, 2001. Guandique, 29, was arrested last year and charged with six counts, including first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual abuse in Chandra Levy's disappearance and slaying. Her skeletal remains were found a year after her disappearance.
At the time of his arrest, Guandique was serving a 10-year sentence in a federal prison in California for assaulting two other women at knifepoint in Rock Creek Park about the same time that Levy disappeared. The first day and a half of Guandique's trial focused on those other victims as they testified in an attempt to establish a pattern of attacks by Guandique.
But late Tuesday, prosecutors shifted their emphasis to Levy. And although he is not a suspect, Gary A. Condit, the former California congressman with whom Levy was having an affair continued to emerge as a key figure for the defense.
Robert Levy described for the jury how his daughter flew to Washington to intern at the Federal Bureau of Prisons as part of her graduate work at the University of Southern California.
After her internship was completed, she was set to return to California to receive her degree. The last time her father saw her was during a trip to the District on April 14, 2001, when the family celebrated her 24th birthday. He and his wife, Susan, had flown in from their home in Modesto, Calif.
By April 30, Levy lost contact with her.
"I called dozens of times or more. I left messages: 'When are you going to call me back. We're worried about you,' " Levy said. He heard nothing. By May 5, he called D.C. police. He said he also called the FBI but never heard back. Then he called a telephone number that appeared numerous times in his daughter's cellphone records. The phone was in Condit's congressional office.
Levy referred to Condit as his daughter's "male friend" and never as anything more intimate. He learned in late 2000 that his daughter was seeing someone, but it wasn't until he dialed that number that he realized that it was the California congressman who represented their district.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Sontha Sonenberg, Levy acknowledged that he was leery of his daughter's relationship with the married congressman, who was 30 years her senior.
"I was suspicious" of Condit, Levy testified. "He was the primary suspect. But everybody cleared him." Levy also said he had learned that his daughter had planned to move in with Condit. He called Condit a "villain."
Condit is on the witness list and is scheduled to testify in the trial.