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Remains in D.C. Park Are Chandra Levy's

May 21, 2002
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Remains in D.C. Park Are Chandra Levy's

by Sari Horwitz and Allan Lengel, The Washington Post

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

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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