The Gentleman From California
- September 2000: Chandra Levy comes to Washington.
- Fall: Chandra meets Rep. Gary Condit.
- Jan. 20, 2001: Chandra attends a ball for President Bush's inauguration with a friend, Robert Kurkjian.
- April 27: Chandra spends an evening with Kurkjian and his friends, eating pizza and watching movies.
- May 1: Chandra disappears.
They rarely went out in public, preferring to stay in, eat pasta and watch movies on HBO. On her cellphone, she listed "Gary" as speed dial No. 7. She listed Condit's Capitol Hill office number as speed dial No. 8.
Chandra told a relative that Condit insisted that their relationship be confidential. At first, she complied. She told her friend Baker that she was dating an FBI agent. But Chandra was so excited she couldn't contain herself. She started to tell a few people that she was seeing a congressman and that he looked like Harrison Ford.
Chandra had a pair of tickets to a ball for George W. Bush's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2001, and she needed a date. She turned to Robert Kurkjian, a USC alum whom she had met at the Washington Sports Club. Kurkjian was an accountant with a gentle charm who, at 28, was five years her senior.
That afternoon, with few friends in town, Chandra asked this man she barely knew to accompany her. He donned a tuxedo; she slipped into an evening gown.
That night, they drove to Adams Morgan, where Chandra said she needed to pick up the tickets to the ball from her boyfriend. It was cold and snowy, but instead of directing Kurkjian to her boyfriend's home, Chandra asked him to pull into the parking lot of a gas station near Columbia Road. She opened the car door and ran into the wintry night.
Kurkjian was confused. Who was her boyfriend, and why wasn't he taking her? Why did she tell Kurkjian to stay in the car? About 10 minutes later, Chandra reappeared, clutching an envelope with a pair of tickets to the Ball After the Ball, a $1,000-per-ticket event featuring R&B singer Macy Gray.
Once inside the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Chandra wasn't interested in dancing. She didn't want a drink or anything to eat. She and her date climbed the grandiose staircase of the museum and looked out over the crowded dance floor.
Kurkjian asked her about her boyfriend. Chandra was evasive. She said he was a member of Congress, but she wouldn't say more, Kurkjian would later tell police.
Three months later, Chandra called Kurkjian. He hadn't spent any time with her and was surprised when she asked if he wanted to meet at a bar.
It was April 27, 2001, a Friday, her last weekend in town. The Bureau of Prisons had ended her internship abruptly: The agency discovered she had completed her graduate coursework in December, so she was technically no longer a student and no longer eligible for the internship. Chandra was getting ready to return to Los Angeles to receive her diploma from USC on May 11.
Kurkjian did not feel like going to a bar. Instead, he invited Chandra for beer, pizza and a movie with his roommates at their Dupont Circle apartment. Once there, she poured her heart out to him. She was disappointed to be leaving Washington, especially her boyfriend, the congressman. She said he planned to give up his seat, become a lobbyist, divorce his wife, marry Chandra and start a second family.
Kurkjian was stunned by her naiveté and said so, telling her she was being played. Chandra refused to believe it. She was in love, she said, and her boyfriend was promising it would all work out.
Chandra wanted to watch another movie and continue talking about her boyfriend. But it was after 1 in the morning. Kurkjian began to nod off and decided it was time for her to go. He walked Chandra to 16th and R streets, flagged down a cab and sent her on her way. He would never see her again.