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Chandra Levy's skull may have been found

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Remains Found in Rock Creek Park

By Sari Horwitz and Allan Lengel

Washington Post Staff Writers

Wednesday, May 22, 2002; 1:31 PM

A human skull and other skeletal remains of what appears to be a woman's body were found this morning in Rock Creek Park and police are trying to determine if it is missing intern Chandra Levy, according to police sources.

A dog walker found the skull about 9:30 a.m. in a heavily-wooded area off Broad Branch Road near Piney Branch Road and called U.S. Park Police.

Investigators who have been working on the case since the 24-year-old Levy disappeared a year ago have rushed to the park and are working with forensic experts to process the scene.

"It's skeletal remains. We don't know exactly what we have. . . . we're processing the scene right now," said D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey.

The police chief said the investigation of the discovered body "is in the very early stages" and he declined to say more until forensic and other law enforcement officials have finished their work.

While Ramsey said that the age or sex of the remains have not been determined, a police source said that what appeared to be women's clothing was found near the body.

One police source said investigators have Levy's dental records and should be able to quickly determine if it is her.

The body was found about a mile and a half from the Klingle Mansion, according to a law enforcement source. Authorities have said that Levy was looking at information about the mansion on her home computer just before she disappeared. She was last seen alive on April 30, 2001; she is known to have used her computer on May 1.

Ramsey said the area in the park where the body was found was a place police searched in a "walk through" not long after Levy disappeared.

The Levy case drew national attention when investigators learned that the former intern was having an affair with Rep. Gary A. Condit (D-Calif.).

A D.C. Superior Court grand jury is looking into the disappearance and allegations that Condit and possibly others obstructed justice in the case.

The grand jury in November subpoenaed documents from Condit's office. Condit also testified before the grand jury in April, but authorities have said that Condit is not a suspect and they have no evidence suggesting he had knowledge of the disappearance.

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Remains in Park Identified As Chandra Levy's

By Sari Horwitz and Allan Lengel

Washington Post Staff Writers

Wednesday, May 22, 2002; 8:28 PM

The skeletal remains found this morning in Rock Creek Park have been identified as those of missing intern Chandra Levy, D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey announced this evening.

Ramsey said Jonathan Arden, the D.C. medical examiner, established the identity through the analysis of dental records.

"There certainly is more work to be done at the medical examiner's. But they did in fact verify that it is Ms. Levy."

[speaking in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Billy Martin, the lawyer for Chandra Levy's family, said the Levy's "worst fears have become a reality."]

[Martin said the discovery of Levy's remains does not "solve the mystery" of what happened to Levy, and that both the family and police will continue efforts to find Levy's killer.]

Ramsey said articles of clothing and other items were leading investigators to conclude that it was her even before the dental match was made. He said Arden will now try to establish the time of death and perhaps even when the body was placed at the scene, whether around the time of her disappearance or sometime later.

The announcement this evening officially reclassifies the Levy investigation from a missing persons case to a "death" inquiry. Still to be determined is the cause of death--what killed Levy--and as importantly, whether she was the victim of foul play. "That is going to be the focus of the investigation from this point forward," said Ramsey.

A dog walker looking for turtles found a skull about 9:30 a.m. on a heavily wooded hill off Broad Branch Road near Brandywine Street and called U.S. Park Police. Also found near the remains were a woman's jogging bra, tennis shoes and a portable radio.

The skull was removed from the site and taken to the medical examiner's office, where it was compared to Levy's dental records and the positive identification was made.

Investigators who have been working on the case since the 24-year-old Levy disappeared a year ago rushed to the park this morning and worked throughout the day to process the scene.

Ramsey said that D.C. police had searched this and other areas of Rock Creek Park last year, but "it's possible to search and not find."

The body was found about a mile and a half from the Klingle Mansion, according to a law enforcement source. Authorities have said that Levy was looking at information about the mansion on her home computer just before she disappeared. She was last seen alive on April 30, 2001; she is known to have used her computer on May 1, 2001.

Both the National Guard and the U.S. Park Police brought in lighting equipment so that police could continue the search into the night. D.C. police equipped with dogs trained to sniff for evidence entered the heavily wooded area in midafternoon. The remains were found along a steep incline in the park, making the search extremely difficult, police said.

Ramsey said police have been in regular contact with Chandra Levy's parents in California and that he had spoken to the Levys twice today.

The Levy case drew national attention when investigators learned that the former intern was having an affair with Rep. Gary A. Condit (D-Calif.).

[in a statement issued by his attorney, Condit said: "Congressman Gary Condit and his family want to express their heartfelt sorrow and condolences to the Levy family. The Levy family will remain in our prayers."]

A D.C. Superior Court grand jury is looking into the disappearance and allegations that Condit and possibly others obstructed justice in the case.

The grand jury in November subpoenaed documents from Condit's office. Condit also testified before the grand jury in April, but authorities have said that Condit is not a suspect and they have no evidence suggesting he had knowledge of the disappearance.

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Originally posted by homersimpson

Oh come on I hope you don't think that Gary Condit is innocent? For if you do then were you one of the jurors on the O.J. trial? I hope Condit gets life in jail for this.

Come on...while I do tend to agree, I don't think you should make such a statement without proof to back it up first...who knows, they might found out or not if it was him....at least now the family has closure about their daughter's whereabouts...

I guess this gives us a good lesson...don't fuck politicians.

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Originally posted by homersimpson

Oh come on I hope you don't think that Gary Condit is innocent? For if you do then were you one of the jurors on the O.J. trial? I hope Condit gets life in jail for this.

Even though I feel that he might have been involved in some way with her death, nothing has been proven yet.....And the OJ trial was alot diff. then this case. There was alot more evidence directly linking him to Nicole's death.....But I guess that politicians can even get away with murder now........

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Park Slope Went Unsearched

Area Where Levy's Remains Were Found Fell Between Sweeps

By Steve Twomey and Sari Horwitz

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, May 24, 2002; Page A01

Search teams combing Rock Creek Park last summer never reached the sloping thicket where Chandra Ann Levy's remains were eventually discovered by a man and his dog, D.C. police said yesterday, because the site lay several hundred yards beyond the range of their standard canvassing patterns.

After Levy's bones, clothing and other items were found Wednesday, police said their sweeps had been in the vicinity last year, echoing comments they have made repeatedly about the breadth of their hunt, which they said covered most of the park in the city and included police recruits and dogs.

But in an interview yesterday, Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer said that searchers did not penetrate to the spot where Levy was found. Common practice is to scour as far as 100 yards from paths, parking lots and picnic areas, Gainer said, and Levy's body turned out to be in a gap between two probes, one coming from the west and one from the east.

WTTG Fox 5 News, citing law enforcement sources, said last night that evidence at the scene indicated Levy may have been tied up, a report that an angry Gainer would not confirm or deny.

"If it is true, the individual who released it should be shot or put in jail," he said. "That type of specificity should never be discussed. That type of specificity could limit our possibility of solving this case and have a negative impact on the prosecution.

"How disappointing it is that some alleged professional is doing that type of talking in a case. It is the worst breach of investigative protocol."

As evidence teams sifted the site, the D.C. medical examiner said it could be several days before he knows whether the remains will establish the cause and manner of Levy's death. In California, the woman's parents made plans for a memorial service Tuesday in Modesto. And District police coped with a flurry of public interest in a man convicted of assaulting two joggers in the park last year in separate attacks, with Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and Gainer saying that media reports were overblown and that the man is not a suspect in the Levy case.

"We were familiar with him, his cases and his history," Gainer said. "We talked to him."

The discovery of Levy's remains was a turning point in a case that had gone cold since the summer, when her disappearance and link to Rep. Gary A. Condit, a California Democrat, became national gossip. Condit, who is married, has said he and Levy were only friends, but police and her family have said that the two were romantically involved. The police have never called Condit a suspect. They have interviewed him four times, searched his apartment and requested that he give a DNA sample.

Police have declined to identify the District resident whose tip led to the discovery, but said he was hunting turtles Wednesday morning when he noticed his dog vigorously sniffing on an incline that is about 100 yards northeast of Broad Branch Road.

The man swept away loose dirt and leaves, found a skull and then walked to a nearby construction site to telephone police. Using dental records provided by the Levy family months ago, the medical examiner's office identified the remains as those of the former federal intern who disappeared May 1, 2001.

"It was impossible to search every inch of Rock Creek Park," Ramsey said. "The park is approximately 1,700 acres. I never meant to say that we searched every inch. We set up search grids. We searched what was a reasonable area to find the body. I would say we searched most of Rock Creek Park. But it was impossible to search every inch. The bottom line is, if she was there, we didn't find her."

Ramsey said that even if teams had reached as far as the steep slope, "You could be standing right next to the remains and not know they were there." Not all of his teams had dogs last summer, he said, adding that "there are not enough cadaver dogs in the United States to search Rock Creek Park."

Joined by an archaeologist from the National Park Service, an eight-person police forensic team raked the site for more evidence yesterday, at times using a metal detector and at others dropping to hands and knees.

A law enforcement source said that some of Levy's remains were found at the base of a slope that rises 120 feet from a small creek, and some were found up the slope. Police said Wednesday it was not yet possible to determine if the remains had been at the site since Levy's death or were moved there later.

The hill is covered with tall trees that block most sunlight, as well as thorny vines, poison ivy and evergreen shrubs called mountain laurel. Although there is a road and a well-used trail at the top, the incline and nearly impassable underbrush below the trail make the area one of the least-visited in the park, officials said.

As the accumulation of clues moved forward, Chief Medical Examiner Jonathan L. Arden said he was examining the bones to determine the cause and manner of Levy's death, although it is possible that he will not learn either from her skeletal remains.

Police were also examining personal items recovered at the site, they said, including asweat shirt from the University of Southern California, where Levy, 24, was pursuing a master's degree; a portable radio, which did not include a cassette tape; leotards; and strands of dark hair.

Levy's death has not been ruled a homicide, and Ramsey said police would not resume interviews with witnesses or possible suspects unless it is. If Arden "rules it's an accident, there's no point," Ramsey said.

Rock Creek Park has always been a focus of the search for Levy, because on the day she disappeared, she used her computer to look up information about the park's Klingle Mansion, a stone home built in 1823 by the family that once owned a large portion of what is now the park. Located just inside the park's boundaries at the end of a residential cul-de-sac, it serves as offices for park officials.

Police officials said yesterday that Levy may not have been searching for directions to the mansion specifically, but seeking more general guidance. The Rock Creek Park Web site's home page included a photograph of Klingle Mansion at that time, so officials do not know "the precise connection," Gainer said.

In searching the park last summer, the D.C. police made classic mistakes, not so much in where they searched but how, an expert in search theory said. Donald C. Cooper, a Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, assistant fire chief who teaches police, emergency and military personnel how to conduct searches, said that using large numbers of police officers or trainees is ill-advised.

"We teach that grid searching is done as a last resort because it's damaging to any evidence that does exist," Cooper said. "It generally involves people who are unskilled at the technique of searching well. And it takes so many people, you start to focus less on your objective and more on organization, staying in line and staying safe and not getting hurt" walking in the woods.

Skilled searchers are schooled in such principles as the "searcher cube," which reminds them to look not only in front and on both sides, but also above, below and behind them as they move across terrain, he said.

"People who do that are available on the East Coast," Cooper said. "I don't know many of them who are in the D.C. police department. . . . I suspect they had extremely skilled criminologists and detectives, but I bet they didn't have extremely skilled search planners, and it was far more likely they were not using skilled field searchers."

In reply, Ramsey said, "We have to do the best we can to find out what happened. Anyone who wants to take a walk through Rock Creek Park is welcome to see what the terrain is like out there."

The District man involved in the park assaults is serving a 10-year federal prison sentence after pleading guilty in September, a case first reported yesterday by Roll Call Daily, a Capitol Hill publication.

According to court papers, a knife-brandishing Ingmar Guandique, 20, a Salvadoran, assaulted two women, one on May 14, 2001, and another on July 1, not far from where Levy's body was found. The women told police they were jogging along Beach Drive NW when Guandique began running behind them and grabbed them. They fought back and escaped.

At sentencing, Judge Noel A. Kramer called Guandique's behavior "predatory."

Ramsey said police have not reinterviewed Guandique. "The press is making too big a deal of it," he said.

In California, Robert L. and Susan Levy, who have held driveway news conferences about their daughter for more than a year, remained in seclusion, although an associate of the family said that Susan "wanted to go talk, she really did. She didn't know what else to do."

Her husband and friends, though, urged her to grieve privately. "It's just overwhelming sadness," the family associate said. "There is no such thing as closure for them."

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