Washington Intern Chandra Levy Disappears Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Chandra Levy, an intern with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, disappeared just days before she was to return home to California. U.S. Congress member Gary Condit later admitted to having had a sexual relationship with Levy while she was in Washington, D.C., but he was never officially named a suspect in her disappearance. Levy’s body was found in a park close to her D.C. apartment, one year after she disappeared. Condit’s political career was ruined by the scandal.

Summary of Event

Chandra Levy had been nearing the end of her time as an intern with the Federal Bureau of Federal Bureau of Prisons Prisons in Washington, D.C. Levy, a University of Southern California graduate student in public administration, was last seen alive on April 30, 2001, doing errands, and her last e-mail correspondence with her family was made the next day. She was scheduled to return home to her family in Modesto, California, but she never made it there. [kw]Levy Disappears, Washington Intern Chandra (Apr. 30, 2001) Levy, Chandra Condit, Gary Levy, Susan Levy, Chandra Condit, Gary Levy, Susan [g]United States;Apr. 30, 2001: Washington Intern Chandra Levy Disappears[03070] [c]Murder and suicide;Apr. 30, 2001: Washington Intern Chandra Levy Disappears[03070] [c]Politics;Apr. 30, 2001: Washington Intern Chandra Levy Disappears[03070] [c]Law and the courts;Apr. 30, 2001: Washington Intern Chandra Levy Disappears[03070] [c]Public morals;Apr. 30, 2001: Washington Intern Chandra Levy Disappears[03070] [c]Sex;Apr. 30, 2001: Washington Intern Chandra Levy Disappears[03070] Zamsky, Linda

Levy’s family soon reported her missing, and investigators began a search of her Washington, D.C., apartment. In addition to finding her identification there, they found that she had been packed to permanently leave the apartment. They also discovered that she, or someone in her apartment, had used her computer to search the Web for Rock Creek Park, located four miles from her apartment. (This park would play a part in the scandal as the case evolved.) Investigators immediately searched the park but found no body.

Investigators continued to search for Levy through the next several weeks. Levy’s aunt, Linda Zamsky, told investigators in July that her niece had confided in her and told her that she had been having an affair with U.S. representative Gary Condit, who represented Levy’s hometown of Modesto. Within a day and more than two months after the former intern’s disappearance, Condit finally admitted to having an affair with Levy. Condit, who was married and had two children, was twenty-nine years older than Levy. Although Condit never was officially considered a suspect in Levy’s disappearance and murder, the media focused on him nonetheless. Levy’s parents, Susan and Robert Levy, also remained suspicious of Condit throughout the investigation. They also hired a public relations company to handle press inquiries, and they made several appearances on television to appeal for help in finding their daughter.

One person of interest to authorities had been Ingmar Guandique, a young Salvadoran immigrant who was convicted of assaulting two women at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. He was questioned by police but never charged in the disappearance of Levy. However, Guandique’s victims, who survived their attacks, noted that he had approached them from behind while they were jogging and listening to their portable miniature radios, a method of attack that would later resonate in the Levy case.

Just over one year later, on May 22, 2002, parts of Levy’s decomposed body were found in Rock Creek Park. A man walking his dog came upon a human skull that was later determined to be Levy’s through matching dental records. Her remains were scattered, and investigators concluded she had been murdered at the park on May 1, 2001. Even though the area had been searched one year earlier, experts argued that they missed the body the first time because it was located in a desolate spot. The park, at more than 1,700 acres, is large. Unfortunately, her remains were so decomposed that medical examiners found it difficult to determine exactly how she died. They named her death a homicide in the weeks following the discovery of her remains.

The Modesto Bee outside the home of the parents of Chandra Levy on July 11, 2001. The local newspaper had extensive coverage of Levy’s disappearance and the ensuing scandal involving Modesto-area Congress member Gary Condit.

(AP/Wide World Photos)

Condit lost credibility during the scandal and was not reelected. He left Congress in January, 2003, and with his family bought several Baskin-Robbins ice-cream franchise stores after relocating to Arizona. Even that venture ended in controversy, as the Condits were sued over management issues and their franchise license was revoked. Condit was interviewed in January, 2008, and expressed sadness about Levy’s death, but he also appeared to have moved on from the scandal.

Impact

The Levy-Condit scandal resonated for several reasons, including the following: Levy was having an affair with a U.S. politician, and that politician represented her hometown. She disappeared without a trace of foul play. Her body was found in a park not far from her apartment—and Condit’s apartment. Condit was secretive about the affair until finally admitting the relationship two months after Levy’s disappearance, but he did so only after being pressured to come forward. The affair reminded the public of the affair between President Bill Clinton and another former intern, Monica Lewinsky, from a few years earlier.

The Levy-Condit scandal resonated for another reason: its sensationalism and the intense media attention it received. The story riveted the nation for months and subsided only after another story became the number-one news item: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. After this date, media coverage of Levy’s disappearance rapidly declined, but it resurfaced somewhat when her body was found a few months later.

Levy’s murder remains unsolved. Her family established a Web site in her memory, hoping as well that someone might come forward with information on how Levy was killed, and by whom. In addition, Susan Levy continued her work as an advocate for victim’s rights, assisting other parents who have lost their children, and has received awards for her efforts. In particular, she has lobbied for the rights of victims in cases that remain cold, or unsolved. She remained steadfast in her criticism of Condit, claiming the congressman had something to do with her daughter’s disappearance and murder. Levy, Chandra Condit, Gary Levy, Susan

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Daugherty, Ralph. Murder on a Horse Trail: The Disappearance of Chandra Levy. New York: iUniverse, 2004. A computer programmer drawn to the case of Chandra Levy’s disappearance and murder examines the facts and attempts to explain what happened. Written in an easy-to-read style. Recommended for general readers.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Murphy, Dean E. “Hope, and a Frenzy, Fade in a Missing-Person Case.” The New York Times, March 4, 2003. Article discusses the link between the Chandra Levy case and Laci Peterson case. Both young women were from Modesto, California.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Seelye, Katherine Q. “Police Say Intern was Slain, but They Do Not Know How.” The New York Times, May 29, 2002. Article explains the circumstances surrounding the discovery of Chandra Levy’s skeletal remains at Rock Creek Park. Because of the condition of the remains, experts were not able to confirm how she was killed, or how she died.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Sowell, Thomas. Controversial Essays. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 2002. In a brief chapter, the author examines clues that he believes may have been overlooked in the investigation of Chandra Levy’s disappearance.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Wecht, Cyril H., Mark Curriden, and Angela Powell. Tales from the Morgue: Forensic Answers to Nine Famous Cases. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2005. Several high-profile cases, including that of Chandra Levy, are examined by a forensic pathologist. Demonstrates the methods, evidence, and the pathology techniques used to analyze a case. Hypothesizes that Levy was strangled.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Weiss, Mike. “Still No Answers.” San Francisco Chronicle, May 22, 2007. Updated review of the Levy case, determining that there are still no answers regarding who committed the crime. Susan Levy was interviewed for the article, which notes that she meets every year with the Washington, D.C., police chief.

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