Courts & Crime

Levy searched Internet about park, Condit, FBI agent testifies

Chandra Levy
Chandra Levy MCT

WASHINGTON _ Chandra Levy appeared to spend some of her last hours searching for Internet information on topics ranging from Washington’s Rock Creek Park to congressman Gary Condit and his wife, Carolyn, an FBI agent testified Thursday.

Appearing on the fourth day of the trial of the man accused of killing Levy, FBI supervisory special agent Jane Dombowski traced the Levy’s last virtual steps up until the point of her vanishing on May 1, 2001. Later, a police technician showed jurors grim evidence of Levy's ultimate fate.

Levy’s laptop computer showed that a user _ presumably Levy _ was researching a cross-country Amtrak trip a little before 2 a.m. on May 1, 2001, Dombowski said. Levy was considering departing D.C. on May 5 and arriving in Stockton on May 8, potentially traveling by luxury sleeper car.

For unexplained reasons, Levy appeared to be using the name “C. Love” in her Amtrak interactions.

At the time, the 24-year-old Levy had finished graduate studies and a Bureau of Prisons internship. Shortly before midnight on April 30, she sent an e-mail to her mother, Susan, in Modesto, Dombowski reported. A few minutes after midnight, she conducted a search related to Gary Condit.

Prosecutors started the trial Monday by noting that Levy "was having an affair" with the older man, but they stress that Condit was not implicated in her murder. Defense attorneys, for their own purposes, want to keep attention focused on Condit and have mentioned him a number of times.

For about 90 minutes mid-day May 1, Levy spent more time online. She looked up further information about Baskin-Robbins, about Rock Creek Park and about the Condit family.

“There were searches for Gary Condit on various sites,” defense attorney Maria Hawilo noted, adding that there also were searches for Carolyn Condit and son Chad Condit.

At 12:59 p.m. May 1, with a final, unexplained search for information on the French province of Alsace-Lorraine, the user of Levy’s computer signed off the Internet.

“That was the last Internet file I was able to find,” Dombowski testified.

Prosecutors say Ingmar Guandique killed Levy in Rock Creek Park on May 1, 2001, during an attempted sexual assault.

One year later, on May 22, 2002, a man walking his dog found Levy's skull. John Allie, the lead evidence technician for the Metropolitan Police Department, testified Thursday that his team used 17 cadaver dogs, dozens of police recruits and a metal detector to conduct the subsequent scene search that went on for 27 days.

"It was quite an operation, to find as much as we could," Allie said.

At the direction of Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines, Allie held up for jurors' inspection some of what he found. He held up two Reebok running shoes, size 8. He held up a red sports bra. He held up a gray University of Southern California T-shirt. He held up a pair of black Pro Spirit tights, and a black pair of underwear.

When discovered, Allie said, the legs of Levy's black tights were tied together in double knots, as if someone had been out to restrain her.

Guandique's defense attorneys are prepared to go after Allie when trial resumes Monday. They criticize various mistakes made at the crime scene, which they portray as part of a pattern of a flawed investigation. Police, for instance, stopped the original scene search on May 28, 2001, and then were forced to resume it after private investigators found additional bones.

Levy's laptop computer, too, could cause problems for prosecutors.

A trained forensics examiner, Dombowski said she had to send the hard drive of Levy’s laptop to a Minnesota-based company in order to extract information because the hard drive could not otherwise be accessed. She did not explain what might have happened to the laptop.

Under questioning by defense attorney Hawilo, Dombowski acknowledged that the computer’s hard drive also showed signs that police officers had used it during a May 9 search of Levy’s apartment. Defense attorneys want to stress police mistakes as part of their case.

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