Chandra Levy's remains found in D.C. park
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The skeletal remains of missing former Washington intern Chandra Levy were found in a park in northwest Washington on Wednesday, almost 13 months after she vanished without a trace.
Police Chief Charles Ramsey made the grim announcement about 6 p.m., after the remains found Wednesday morning in Washington's Rock Creek Park were identified through dental records. He said the investigation, previously treated as a missing person case, would now be treated as a death investigation.
"The medical examiner's investigation into the manner and cause of death is still pending," he said. "We have found quite a bit of the skeletal remains."
Levy, 24, was last seen in Washington on April 30, 2001.
Family spokeswoman Judy Smith described Levy's parents, Susan and Robert, and younger brother Adam as "very emotional" after they were informed by police that an identification had been made. The Levys live in Modesto, Califorinia.
"This is an extremely tough time for them. While certainly today's news, the death of their daughter, provides some resolution, it doesn't provide answers," she said. "Two parents have just received the most horrifying news that any parent can ever get."
Smith said that as the months went by, the Levys knew their chances of finding their daughter alive were remote. But they retained some hope right up until receiving Wednesday's phone call with the grim news of her identification, she said.
Plans for a memorial service have not yet been made, Smith said.
Family attorney Billy Martin said the Levys were in "a fragile emotional state" after the discovery and asked reporters to give them "time to compose themselves and time to deal with the death of their daughter, Chandra."
"The discovery of Chandra's body closes one chapter and brings some resolution to this ordeal," Martin said. "It does not, and I repeat, does not solve the mystery of what happened to Chandra."
Martin said he believed the case eventually would become a homicide investigation.
Until Wednesday, Washington police treated Levy's disappearance as a missing persons case. Ramsey said the investigation would now be treated as a death investigation.
"The medical examiner's investigation into the manner and cause of death is still pending," he said.
Levy's case generated tremendous publicity because of her relationship with Rep. Gary Condit, D-California. Condit denied any involvement with Levy's disappearance. But the fallout destroyed his political career, and he was defeated in the Democratic primary in March.
House staffers said the congressman watched Ramsey's announcement on television in a cloakroom in the Capitol. His office later released a statement:
"Congressman Gary Condit and family want to express their heartfelt sorrow and condolences to the Levy family. The Levy family will remain in our prayers."
A source close to Condit said the congressman was "genuinely sad."
"He, like everyone, hoped she'd be alive," the source said.
Ramsey said the parents learned the news through the media and he later spoke with them to confirm that the remains were those of their daughter.
Levy's remains were found in Rock Creek Park after a man searching for turtles in "a very inaccessible area" was alerted to the remains by his dog, Ramsey said. The park is not far from where Levy lived, and she was known to jog there.
Last summer, police conducted an extensive search of the park without finding Levy.
The park cuts through some of the city's more upscale neighborhoods and includes jogging and bicycle paths. Police said Levy had looked at a Web site that included information about the Klingle Mansion, an 1823 farmhouse now used as park offices, the day she disappeared.
Ramsey said it is too soon to know if Levy's body was there at the time, nor do investigators yet know whether she died at the scene or was killed elsewhere and placed in the park.
He also said it is too soon to know if the body was buried, although he said there was no indication of a grave.
Ramsey said clothing found with the remains appeared to belong to a woman. That, combined with other items found at the scene, gave investigators a "very, very strong suspicion" that they had found Levy.
He said the scene would be sealed off overnight as police continue to gather evidence.
Condit, a 53-year-old married grandfather, has said little publicly about his relationship with Levy, but police sources say he admitted to an affair with her during one interview with investigators.
Late last month, Levy's parents marked the one-year anniversary of her disappearance with interviews in which they talked about the heartache and hope they feel.
Susan Levy, the missing woman's mother, told CNN in April that she didn't react to incoming phone calls with much anticipation.
"I would say that I don't think I jump thinking that she's going to be on the other line, but I'm going to tell you ... that I still have faith and hope that Chandra will come back to us alive," she told CNN's Larry King. (Full story)
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