Pursuit of the Predator
- July 12, 2002: D.C. police visit the scene where Ingmar Guandique attacked a woman in Rock Creek Park.
- Aug. 11: Police interview Guandique's ex-girlfriend and her mother.
- Aug. 12: Police searching for Guandique's belongings interview a friend who says they are with Guandique's half-brother, Huber.
- Aug. 24: Huber tells police the belongings are with a man known as "Juan the Pig."
- Sept. 22: A new prosecutor brings two bilingual detectives into the case.
- Oct. 2: Washington Post reporters interview Guandique's landlady, who says she asked a maintenance man to throw away two bags of his belongings.
- Oct. 11: The bilingual detectives interview "Juan the Pig" in Virginia; he tells them Guandique's belongings are with another friend in Maryland. The detectives later learn that the belongings have been thrown out.
When Chandra Levy's remains were found in May 2002 in Rock Creek Park, Halle Shilling felt a chill.
Shilling, a Washington writer who was teaching a nonfiction workshop at Johns Hopkins University, was one of two women attacked in the park the previous summer; Shilling was assaulted two weeks after Chandra disappeared.
She was struck by the similarities between the spot where she was assaulted and the scene where Chandra's remains were found. Both were off isolated trails, along ravines, not far from the old Peirce Mill. A Salvadoran immigrant named Ingmar Guandique was charged in July 2001 with attacking Shilling and, later, another female jogger in the park. A parking lot and picnic area near the mill were among his favorite hangouts.
Shilling couldn't understand why the police detectives investigating Chandra's disappearance never interviewed her about Guandique. She talked to reporters, and Guandique's name surfaced publicly for the first time May 23, 2002.
When reporters questioned D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, he downplayed Guandique as a suspect. "The press is making too big a deal of it," Ramsey said.
But behind the scenes, D.C. detectives and federal prosecutors were trying to re-interview Guandique, who was now imprisoned in North Carolina. It had been 10 months since they learned that he had attacked the two women in the park. It had been seven months since a jailhouse informant told police that Guandique told him he had stabbed Chandra in Rock Creek Park and dragged her deep into the woods. Guandique had taken a polygraph, denying he had anything to do with Chandra's disappearance.
Prosecutors told detectives to find Guandique's associates, friends and family members. But by now, Guandique's attorney had contacted him in prison advising him not to talk to anyone - detectives, FBI agents or private investigators.
Many of Guandique's family members and friends did not speak English, and the D.C. detectives assigned to the case, Ralph Durant and Lawrence Kennedy, did not speak Spanish. The language barrier slowed the interview process, bogging down the investigation.
After the discovery of Chandra's remains, prosecutors urged D.C. detectives to interview Guandique's relatives and friends. Nearly two months went by before Durant and Kennedy visited the scene where Shilling was attacked. On July 12, the detectives and a federal prosecutor met U.S. Park Police Detective Joe Green in the parking lot near the Peirce Mill, and Green showed them where Guandique was sitting when he spotted Shilling. He then took them up the isolated trail to the site where Guandique jumped his victim.
The detectives realized that the site was within easy walking distance of the Chandra Levy crime scene.
Then, four more weeks passed before Durant and Kennedy interviewed Guandique's ex-girlfriend and her mother. On Aug. 11 - 13 months after Guandique's arrest - the detectives went to his old neighborhood with a translator. Maria Portillo, the mother, told them about Guandique's drinking and his violent behavior toward her daughter, Iris. Durant and Kennedy then interviewed Iris, who confirmed her mother's account and said her mother kicked Guandique out of the apartment in late April 2001 - shortly before Chandra vanished.