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In the Crossfire

How did D.C. police miss Chandra Levy's remains?

Rock Creek Park
Police found Chandra Levy's remains in a heavily wooded area of Rock Creek Park.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Given that it took over a year for D.C. police to find Chandra Levy's remains, how long will it take to solve the mystery of how she died? Washington's deputy police chief, Terrance Gainer, joined "Crossfire" hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson to discuss the latest in the investigation.

PAUL BEGALA: First, we salute you and the force for staying on this case, after the media and everybody else got off of it. But there is an attorney named Mark Geragos, who is representing Congressman Gary Condit. He had some rather pointed comments about the D.C. police. I want to read them to you and then ask you to respond.

He said: "It's certainly not a red-letter day for the D.C. police. If, as reported, she left with only her tennis shoes and her keys and was going jogging, wouldn't you look on the jogging trails? How do you miss somebody? It's mind-boggling."

Could you unboggle Mr. Geragos' mind, Chief?

GAINER: Well, Rock Creek Park is a big place -- some 1,700 acres -- and we had a lot of people out there and searched it the best we could. The place where we found the remains is hilly, dense foliage and was not specifically where we put some of our recruits. So we regret that ... I wish we could have found the body 12 months ago, and we've got to move on from there.

BEGALA: Any chance that perhaps the body was placed there after the search? Last night, we had a former homicide detective on who suggested that maybe the best place to hide a body is a place that had already been searched? Is there any evidence at the crime scene that perhaps the remains have been moved?

GAINER: There is not enough to make that determination one way or the other. We are going to have to look at those theories. The body was not buried. It looks like it was lying on the floor of the forest there, and it was covered with what would accumulate over a year. But we're up there now and we'll be there for the next couple of days. We have some forensic pathologists taking the dirt away layer by layer to see if we can learn anything or make some of those determinations.

CARLSON: Now, Mr. Gainer, not to let you too easily off the hook here, the things you knew about Chandra Levy after she disappeared were these: the two salient facts that she frequently jogged in Rock Creek Park and that the last known act she committed -- the last thing she did that we knew about, I believe that you knew about -- was she looked up a map of Rock Creek Park on her computer. So, the park was the obvious place to search.

And the fact is the D.C. police did search it, as you know, with 50 police recruits over a period of days, then went back, searched again, went back, searched again. Can you be a lot more specific about how you didn't find this body and a dog walker did?

GAINER: We actually spent some three weeks up there with recruits. But it is wrong to assume that she was a regular jogger in Rock Creek Park. That is not necessarily true. In fact, the information we have is that she did not often jog outdoors, that she used a treadmill more than Rock Creek.

But given the information we had from her computer, that was a natural place to look and we spent quite a bit of time. What we did was go to different groves and parking areas and paths, drawn concentric circles out of there and had our troops fan out from there to try to find it.

This particular place is very hilly. There is thick foliage there, and it looks like now, in comparing where we found her to where we searched before, we might have been as much as 125 yards east of her at one point and 125 yards west of her at another point.

CARLSON: Convince our unconvinced viewers here that it is possible for 50 recruits over three weeks to miss finding a body in a park in the middle of a city, a densely populated city.

GAINER: Well, it's a densely populated park too. I think the misconception is this is a park like maybe (Edward) Murrow Park across from the World Bank building, where it's a green park (with) benches. This is a thick forest that's 1,700 acres. And we gave it a good shot and regret to this day that we didn't find her. But we always knew that our biggest break would come if we found her -- the body in the scene -- and we're going work from there.




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