Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old federal intern in Washington, D.C., was missing for more than a year in 2001 until her skeletal remains were found in a park, in what is one of the United States’ most notorious unsolved crimes.
Ingmar Guandique, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador who was accused of attacking women in the park, was convicted of murdering Levy, but his conviction was then overturned when it emerged that a key prosecution witness might have lied.
On July 28, federal prosecutors asked a judge to drop the murder charges against Guandique, announcing that they would no longer seek a retrial because they don’t think they can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt anymore. That’s turned attention back to former California Congressman Gary Condit, with whom Levy was alleged to be having a sexual affair at the time that she vanished. The judge then dismissed the charges against Guandique.
Condit has denied murdering Levy, but Guandique’s defense attorneys made it clear in court filings that they were going to pinpoint him as the key suspect in her death, according to The Washington Post.
Who was Chandra Levy?
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Levy Was a Vegetarian Who Was Interested in Politics & Wanted to be an FBI Agent
According to a biography of Levy in The Washington Times, Chandra Ann Levy was an “ambitious graduate student” who was a vegetarian and had a rose tattoo above her right ankle. The Times said Levy had posed at age 17 for glamour shots and talked of being a model, but she also “admired older men who wield…power, by some accounts, and was reluctant to let go when some of them sought to break off romantic relationships.”
Levy had graduated from San Francisco State University, the daughter of an oncologist father and artist mother, and was interested in “politics and law enforcement,” said Slate. Slate said that Levy had previous internships with Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and California Gov. Gray Davis. “She talked about possibly becoming an FBI agent,” said Slate.
The Washington Times described her as a “dynamo with the size-2 body and size-12 ego.” She had left a job at a television station’s sports division in college because she “found the work hard-nosed and cynical” and, growing up, was in Brownies, Little League, and was the only girl in a wilderness program, said The Times. Before moving to Washington D.C. for the internship, Levy studied journalism.
2. Levy Was an Intern From Modesto, California at the Bureau of Prisons Before She Disappeared & Met Condit on a ‘Political Field Trip’
Levy vanished in May, 2001 while an intern for the federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington D.C., according to NBC Channel 4.
Slate says Levy’s internship at the Bureau of Prisons was in the public affairs office and was only supposed to last six months; it was rare for her to live so far away from home.
Slate Magazine says that Levy would go with a friend on what they called “political field trips,” showing up at the offices of House of Representatives members to get their photos taken. Levy met Condit when they went to his congressional office on one of the trips, says Slate.
According to The Modesto Bee, Levy was physically fit and worked out up to four times a week. During Guandique’s first trial, her father, Robert, an oncologist, testified that he was full of rage against Condit, considering him a suspect, and that he could not back up comments he made, such as saying that the then 53-year-old married Condit and Levy had a five-year plan to get married. She was last seen on the night of April 30, 2001, when she went to cancel her gym membership and seemed “cheerful” and happy to be returning home to California, said The Modesto Bee.
Levy was 24 when she died. Emimen wrote a song that included a lyric referring to Levy.
3. Guandique’s Lawyers Were Poised to Argue that Condit Had a History of Bondage During Rough Sex & Might Have Killed Levy, Reports Say
CBS News said in May 2016 that Guandique’s attorneys “are making clear that at his second trial they plan to offer jurors evidence pointing to a different one-time suspect in the case: former California Congressman Gary Condit.” Condit was ruled out as a suspect after being questioned in Levy’s death after investigators shifted their focus to Guandique.
Guandique was convicted of murdering her in 2010. He was granted a new trial, anticipated to begin next fall. Her May 2001 disappearance caused massive media attention that focused largely on Condit and whether he had a relationship with the intern. The Modesto Bee says, “Condit, who lost his House seat in 2002, no longer denies his relationship with Levy was sexual in nature.”
The attorneys argued in court filings that Condit had a “powerful” and “obvious” motive to kill Levy, said CBS, quoting the attorneys as saying, “Mr. Condit was fully aware of the cost he could pay if his affair with Ms. Levy became public.” The Washington Post sketched out how defense attorneys wanted to interview other women with whom Condit allegedly had sexual relationships, saying they showed he had a penchant for bondage and aggressiveness. The Post also says Condit’s attorney insists he was exonerated in the case and, again, Condit denies murdering Levy.
The lawyers for Guandique say the fact that knotted jogging tights were found near the body could lend credence to their theory that Levy might have been killed during sexual bondage, according to The New York Daily News.
4. Prosecutors Have Been Vague About The ‘Recent Developments’ That Led Them to Drop Charges Against Guandique
NBC Channel 4 says that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said in a statement July 28 that they were dropping charges against Guandique based on “recent unforeseen developments that were investigated over the past week.” They did not elaborate, but said they can’t prove the case against him beyond a reasonable doubt anymore.
The NBC Washington D.C. affiliate said the retrial was encumbered by revelations that a key witness had lied that Guandique confessed to murdering Levy, according to Guandique’s attorneys. The lack of physical evidence tying Guandique to the crime scene made this witness, a felon gang member, of critical importance; however, the Washington Post says the man’s neighbor claims she has taped him admitting he lied about the confession.
5. Condit Has Retreated Into Private Life & Lost His Congressional Seat Because of The Scandal
According to The Fresno Bee newspaper, Condit and his wife, Carolyn, moved to the Phoenix, Arizona area after Condit lost his Congressional seat during a Democratic primary in the wake of the scandal.
The Fresno Bee says he resurfaced to file an unsuccessful libel suit relating to the Levy allegations against a small California newspaper but largely leads a private life now. He has worked for a non-profit in Arizona and, for a time, ran Baskin Robbins’ franchises with his son, according to People Magazine.