- May 15, 2001: The Levys come to Washington. In Modesto, Calif., a victims' rights group holds a candlelight vigil for Chandra.
- May 17: The Levys hold a news conference, and the story goes national.
- May 18: Police draw up list of "suspect areas," including one labeled "C.M." for "congressman."
The Post story also contained the first statement about the case from the Levys' hometown congressman, Gary Condit, who had added $10,000 to a reward fund. "Chandra is a great person and a good friend," Condit said. "We hope she is found safe and sound."
Condit's relationship with Chandra had not surfaced publicly. That was about to change.
Reporters were hearing from their police sources that Condit had an ongoing relationship with Chandra, and Condit's aides were trying to knock down the rumors. A romance between the two "totally did not occur," Michael Lynch, Condit's chief of staff in Modesto, told reporters.
On May 17, the Levys' second full day in Washington, they went to Capitol Hill to meet with their state's senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Then they held a news conference at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington County. Susan Levy tried to stay strong as her husband collapsed, leaning into his wife, weeping on her shoulder. The story was perfect for prime time. CNN and "Dateline NBC" began to air pieces about the missing intern. The Chandra Levy media frenzy was beginning.
At 5:10 that afternoon, the Levys had another meeting with D.C. police. Susan Levy told them that she had a cryptic conversation with her daughter the previous month. Chandra had said she was dating someone, but she wouldn't say who: "He's highly visible. You'll understand in five years," she had said.
On May 18, police convened a meeting with the FBI of what they called a "task force." They drew up a list of "suspect areas." Among them: Chandra's gym; the Bureau of Prisons, where she interned; Robert Kurkjian, one of the last people to spend time with Chandra, and his two roommates - a group of men the detectives had dubbed the "Pizza Party Acquaintances." FBI agents later gave polygraphs to Kurkjian and one of his roommates and determined that they had nothing to do with her disappearance.
The task force also listed Sven Jones, a colleague of Chandra's at the Bureau of Prisons who worked out at the same gym, the Washington Sports Club. Chandra made her last cellphone call to him, three days before she disappeared. With rugged good looks, Jones painted and sculpted in his spare time and liked to quote Nietzsche.
Jones cooperated with the police and told them that he and Chandra were friends and that she had told him about her affair with someone powerful in government. He also said he was in Canada with his girlfriend on the day Chandra called him. Detectives found that Jones was crossing the Canadian border around the time of Chandra's disappearance; he took a polygraph, passed and was excluded as a suspect.
They listed one more suspect area: Condit, whom they referred to as the "C.M.," for the "congressman."
The same day the task force met, The Post published a story that added more details about the rumors of an affair between Chandra and the congressman. It quoted Assistant Police Chief Ronald Monroe as saying Chandra had visited Condit's apartment "more than a couple times."
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey tried to tamp down the story. He told reporters that Monroe's statement was inaccurate - even though behind the scenes, Condit had told Ramsey's detectives that Chandra had visited him at his apartment several times, spending the night on a couple of occasions.
"My assistant chief was speaking of a rumor," Ramsey said, "and there is nothing we have that confirms the young lady was at the congressman's apartment."
By early June 2001, teams of police officers were trudging through the woods near Condit's condominium in Adams Morgan, looking for signs of Chandra. Ramsey said the location of the searches had nothing to do with the congressman. Gainer, Ramsey's top deputy, declared Condit "not a suspect."
But the searches fueled speculation within the gathering pack of reporters and cameramen. Condit's Washington office began fielding calls from journalists preparing to report that Chandra had spent the night at his apartment. Reporters also were hearing that Chandra had talked about Condit to a relative, who had called police.
There were also rumors on Capitol Hill and within the press corps that Condit's wife, Carolyn, was in Washington the weekend before Chandra disappeared. She attended a luncheon event for first lady Laura Bush on May 3, and she was reportedly upset, wearing a ball cap and sunglasses. It turned out that Carolyn was at the luncheon, but the tip about her being upset was based on bogus secondhand information.
On the evening of June 6, Condit called lead detective Durant and complained that the police were leaking information about Chandra that he gave them in his May 9 interview. Durant denied that he did it and asked to talk to Condit again, informally.
The congressman said he did not know if he would consent to another interview. He was too angry about the leaks and was losing his faith in the police department.