National

Arrest imminent in Chandra Levy slaying, parents told

WASHINGTON _ Chandra Levy's parents are now awaiting the imminent arrest of the man suspected of murdering their daughter nearly eight years ago.

In two unexpected telephone calls Friday night, Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier and a D.C. police lieutenant advised the Modesto, Calif., residents that “substantial evidence” enabled investigators to request an arrest warrant in the long-unsolved murder.

Levy said Lanier did not identify the suspect by name in the telephone conversations, which occurred about 7 p.m. PST Friday.

“She just wanted us to know that this was really big, and that they believed they caught the murderer,” Levy said. “She felt excited that they were able to put the pieces together.”

Lanier, in a statement issued Saturday, stated publicly only that “this case generated numerous bits of information, which we continue to follow up on.”

Previous news reports have noted investigators’ interest in Ingmar A. Guandique, a 27-year-old illegal immigrant from El Salvador now held in federal prison in Victorville, Calif. Guandique is serving a 10-year term on charges of attacking two women in Washington’s Rock Creek Park. Levy’s skeletal remains were found in Rock Creek Park in May 2002, a year after she disappeared.

Raised in Modesto, Levy arrived in Washington as a Bureau of Prisons intern and University of Southern California graduate student. She was last seen publicly on April 30, 2001.

Levy’s remains were put to rest in May 2003 at the Lakewood Memorial Park Cemetery in Hughson, near Modesto. The mystery of what happened to her has continued to unsettle family members and loved ones.“We have a life warrant, of sadness and loneliness,” Levy said Saturday.

Levy’s disappearance at age 24 rocketed to national attention after reports began quickly surfacing about a relationship with then-Rep. Gary Condit. Condit does not dispute reports that he eventually told investigators he was having an affair with Levy, though he consistently denied the relationship was “romantic.”

The relationship between the former Bureau of Prisons intern and the much-older congressman, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, prompted fevered speculation and intense media coverage. Police never named Condit as a suspect, and his defenders say the public attention to the congressman was distracting police.]

“Both the police and the media leaped to the conclusion that Condit had committed a crime,” Mike Lynch, Condit’s former chief of staff Mike Lynch and now a Modesto-based political consultant, said in an interview Saturday. “They sought evidence to prove his guilt instead of evidence to solve the crime, no matter who did it.”

Condit, in a telephone interview Saturday with Washington’s WJLA television station, added that “an insatiable appetite for sensationalism” interfered with the murder investigation.

The controversy led directly to Condit losing his congressional seat, in a 2002 primary election won by his former staffer, Rep. Dennis Cardoza. Condit and his family now live in Arizona, where they ran two Baskin-Robbins’ ice cream stores for a while. Condit has also filed multiple defamation lawsuits as a result of tabloid coverage of the Levy case; the suits have since been settled or dismissed.

Susan Levy appeared on several cable television programs Saturday but declined to discuss Condit, with whom she and her husband had notably tense relations.

Levy told McClatchy that she and her husband, Bob, a physician, were just about to leave for a dance performance at Modesto’s Gallo Center for the Arts when the police reached them Friday night. Even after the two life-altering phone calls, Levy said she and her husband went ahead to the evening show by the Trey McIntyre Project.

“It was good escapism,” Levy said of the show.

Levy said she and her husband would be prepared “24/7” to return to Washington, where they have previously met with Lanier and other investigators. But for now, the family is still adjusting to the latest developments.

“We were going to go skiing (Saturday),” Levy said, “but to tell you the truth, how could we go skiing now?”

Read the Modesto Bee's complete coverage of the Chandra Levy story at modbee.com

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