Media Frenzy
Who Killed Chandra Levy?
Who Killed Chandra Levy?
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The Modesto Bee had stood by Condit's side in nearly every fight of his 30-year political career, but on Aug. 12, the largest newspaper in his district called for his resignation. The Bee's editorial board concluded that the congressman "knowingly hindered" the police investigation into Chandra's disappearance. "For 15 weeks, Condit has put his own interests ahead of the effort to find Levy," the editorial said. "His self-absorption has been a lapse not only of judgment, but of human decency."

Condit launched a last-ditch public relations campaign, hiring Marina Ein, a well-connected Washington media guru. The congressman and his wife consented to a People magazine cover story.

Rep. Gary Condit and his wife Carolyn on the cover of People magazine (AP)

Condit also agreed to speak publicly about Chandra for the first time on ABC's "PrimeTime Thursday," in an interview with Connie Chung. In TV news circles, this was considered the biggest "get" since Barbara Walters got Monica Lewinsky to talk about President Bill Clinton. On the eve of his appearance, Condit wrote a letter to his constituents.

"Some suggest that not talking with the media could mean I had something to do with Chandra's disappearance. I did not," he wrote. "I will be interviewed on television and hopefully I will be able to answer questions that help people understand. It is not something I look forward to. But things have gone on long enough."

The interview, broadcast Aug. 23, didn't go the way Condit planned. Chung rattled him with one of her first questions: Did you kill Chandra Levy? He said no, then was reserved for the rest of the session.

"She could have pulled my fingernails out. She could have started putting long knives down my throat - I would not have given her any information," Condit recently recalled in an interview with The Post.

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During the ABC interview, he declined to answer questions about whether he had an affair with Chandra. He said that he was not a perfect man and that he made mistakes. "But out of respect for my family, out of a specific request by the Levy family, it is best that I not get into the details of the relationship," he said repeatedly.

Condit's performance was uniformly criticized as evasive. Robert and Susan Levy were appalled - they said they had made no "specific request" that Condit be discreet about their daughter. Political party leaders and major newspapers called for him to step down.

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"I knew within a couple weeks my career was gone," he recalled in The Post interview.


While the world was focused on Condit, a Salvadoran immigrant was sitting in jail, charged with attacking women at knifepoint in Rock Creek Park. Chandra had searched the Internet for something to do in the park on the day she disappeared; the man in jail would seem to be a prime suspect for the detectives looking for her. But after the man's arrest on July 1 by the U.S. Park Police, 19 days passed before D.C. detectives in the Chandra case said they heard about the man.

On July 20, one of the detectives would later note, they got a tip that a Hispanic man had exposed himself to a woman named Karen Mosley nine weeks earlier in Rock Creek Park. The case had been investigated by the Park Police.

See 360 degree views of several important sites in the Chandra Levy investigation.

Toward the end of May, Mosley, 29, was walking with her dog along a path in the park that began at the old Peirce Mill when she saw a young Hispanic man exposing himself. He ran off when her dog snarled at him. Mosley ran back to the mill and called police from a pay phone. A Park Police officer told her she was lucky: There was a predator in the park who had attacked a woman jogging on a nearby trail.

On July 24, when D.C. detectives contacted the Park Police for additional details about Mosley, they said, they learned for the first time about an attack in the park. Ingmar Guandique, the Salvadoran, was being held for assaulting Christy Wiegand on July 1.

Detectives later noted that police called Mosley the day they received the tip, July 20, but Mosley said no one from the D.C. police contacted her that summer.

"That didn't happen," she later recalled. "I would have remembered that."

As Chandra's disappearance turned into a round-the-clock news story in mid-July, Mosley grew frustrated by the intense coverage of Condit.

"It was making me crazy," she recalled. "The entire focus was on this guy. I kept saying to my friends, 'They're not focusing on this guy in the woods.'"

Detectives in the Levy case would not pursue the information about Ingmar Guandique for another two months.

Mosley said she wasn't interviewed by D.C. police until the first week of September, more than three months after the incident. By then, she was unable to identify the suspect.

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Next chapter: A jailhouse informant tells an extraordinary story. In-depth preview
The Washington Post spent a year reconstructing the disappearance of Chandra Levy and the investigation of her death. Reporters interviewed scores of people, including police officials, investigators and suspects - many for the first time - and obtained details about dozens of previously unknown private conversations and events.

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