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Levy probe looks at man who assaulted women in park

Chandra Levy and her mother, Susan
Chandra Levy and her mother, Susan  


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A man who used Rock Creek Park as a "hunting ground" for women is facing new scrutiny by investigators probing the death of Chandra Levy, whose remains were found in the park in an area where two joggers were assaulted last summer.

The man, identified by sources as Ingmar Guandeque, is in a federal prison in North Carolina, serving 10 years after pleading guilty to those other assaults. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is responsible for individuals convicted in courts in the District of Columbia.

Guandeque admitted to authorities in both cases that he attempted to steal Sony Walkmans from the women, but he did not take the devices when he had a chance, according to the Justice Department. Police have said a Walkman was found near Levy's remains.

A knife-wielding Guandeque, according to court papers filed at the time of his sentencing, "appears to have used Rock Creek Park as a hunting ground, waiting beside popular running trails, selecting victims and stalking them."

Chandra Levy memorial
Public memorial is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Modesto Center Plaza, an outdoor venue in downtown Modesto, California.

Sgt. Scott Fear, with the U.S. Park Police, cited that case in an interview with CNN, and said information about it was turned over to Washington D.C. Metropolitan police.

"I know they are going to look into everything as thoroughly as possible," he said.

One of the assaults involving Guandeque, a native of El Salvador, occurred in May 2001 and the second in July 2001.

Levy was last seen in Washington April 30, 2001, shortly after she completed an internship with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. A physical fitness buff, she was known to jog in the park.

Police warn against jumping to conclusions

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Her skeletal remains were discovered Wednesday in a remote area of the park, thick with underbrush, by a man walking his dog. Police say a Walkman and pieces of a woman's clothing were also found in the area, at the base of a steep cliff.

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey cautioned against jumping to conclusions about last summer's assaults and a possible connection to the Levy case.

"We can't make the leap from that, to anything to do with Chandra Levy. First, we have to determine if in fact she was murdered," he told CNN. "We have been looking at all kinds of cases that could possibly be connected, but at the moment we don't have anything that ties anyone into the disappearance of Chandra Levy."

Without mentioning Guandeque by name, Ramsey said police spoke with him last summer and are "very interested" in talking to him again. He said they had not talked with him since the discovery of Levy's remains.

"There are probably several people we'll want to talk to, including new candidates," he added.

Later, off camera, he called Guandeque "one of many suspects."

Ramsey dismissed as "ill-informed" criticism of the police investigation from an attorney for U.S. Rep. Gary Condit. The California Democrat has figured in the case because of his relationship with Levy, but neither he nor anyone else had ever been named as a suspect in what, until Wednesday's grim discovery, had been handled as a missing person investigation.

Condit camp critical of police

Levy, who was 24 when she disappeared, was identified through dental records.

Some observers have speculated that Levy might have fallen victim to a serial killer, noting that District of Columbia police haven't solved the killings of two other young women over the past three years.

Levy's case captivated the nation and generated enormous publicity largely because of her relationship with Condit. The married father and grandfather has said little publicly about that relationship, but police sources say he admitted to an affair with Levy during one interview with investigators. (More on Condit)

Condit denied any involvement with Levy's disappearance. But the fallout damaged his political career: He was defeated in the Democratic primary in March.

One source close to Condit said the discovery of Levy is seen as "a chance to finally get him exonerated" of suspicions that the congressman is connected to Levy's disappearance and death.

The source questioned why the possible Guandeque connection wasn't explored earlier.

"For a year we haven't heard this guy's name until now. This is an example of one of the more reasonable and legitimate leads that the police didn't follow up on," the source said.

But a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, which has also been involved in the Levy investigation, said authorities didn't know for sure that Levy was in the park until her remains were discovered.

"Obviously, things have changed now," said spokesman Channing Phillips.

Condit's attorney faulted the D.C. police for what he suggested was a shoddy investigation. He pointed out that the park had been searched last year, but nothing turned up.

"It is certainly not a red-letter day for the D.C., police," attorney Mark Geragos said Wednesday night.

Memorial service set for Tuesday

Ramsey rejected that criticism, saying the attorney was trying "to move as much of the spotlight away from his client as possible."

Ramsey also said 1,700 acres of the park had been searched by officers last year. "The problem is that this is an urban forest," he said, adding that it was "very rugged terrain."

The remains, he said, were "very well concealed" under "about a foot of underbrush."

He said investigators are looking into the possibility that Levy's body was dumped in the park after the searches last summer.

"We just don't know," Ramsey said.

Robert, Susan and Adam Levy, Chandra's parents and brother, remained in seclusion at their Modesto home.

A public memorial service has been scheduled for next Tuesday morning at the Modesto Center Plaza, a Levy family attorney announced Thursday. She said no other details of the service had been decided yet.

Family friends described family members as heartbroken.

"Although the discovery of Chandra's body closes one chapter and brings some resolution to this ordeal, it does not ... solve the mystery of what happened to Chandra," attorney Billy Martin said Wednesday night. "We will continue, along with the police, our investigation to find the person or persons who did this to Chandra."

-- CNN Correspondents Bob Franken and Frank Buckley and Producer Ted Barrett contributed



 
 
 
 






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