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Cause of Levy's death may never be known

Jonathan Arden
D.C. Medical Examiner Jonathan Arden  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Washington's medical examiner said Tuesday that Chandra Levy's death was a homicide, but exactly how she died may always be a mystery.

"It is possible we will never know specifically the injury that caused her death," D.C. Medical Examiner Jonathan Arden said in a news conference.

The announcement confirmed what authorities already suspected about Levy, whose skeletal remains were discovered in Washington's Rock Creek Park Wednesday by a man walking his dog. A sweatshirt, sneakers and a Sony Walkman tape player also were found in the heavily wooded area.

The 24-year-old, who interned at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, was last seen in Washington on April 30, 2001.

"The circumstances of her disappearance and her discovery -- having been secluded in the park and taking into account the personal effects that were found at the scene -- allows me to conclude that her death was homicidal in nature," he said.

"It is possible we will never know specifically the injury that caused her death."
— Med. Examiner Jonathan Arden

Arden said the condition of the remains was consistent with the time of her disappearance last year, but he couldn't determine whether Levy died at the scene or if her body was taken there.

"There's less to work with here than I would like," he said.

The announcement preceded a memorial service in Levy's hometown of Modesto, California.

About 1,500 chairs were set up for the service at at Modesto Centre Plaza, the largest indoor venue in the city, but organizers were prepared to handle an overflow crowd.

"It will be a wonderful, wonderful celebration of Chandra's life," Levy family spokeswoman Judy Smith said.

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Parents Robert and Susan Levy, who left for the event in a black limousine with son Adam, were making their first public appearance since their daughter's death was confirmed last week. The parents, who were not scheduled to speak, have been in seclusion at their Modesto home.

Arden's conclusion opens the door to a formal homicide investigation by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, and Chief Charles Ramsay insisted Tuesday that it will track down the killer.

"We're professionals here. We are one of best police agencies in the world, and we will solve this case," he said. "I guarantee that."

Ramsay said "a lot of evidence" was recovered from the scene that has to be analyzed, along with several people who police want to interview or re-interview.

"We'll interview anyone we believe can shed new light on this case," he said.

He declined to confirm reports that police found a knotted piece of clothing with Levy's remains that could have been used to restrain her.

No one has been named as a suspect in the case, but investigators are exploring whether Levy's death may be linked to two assaults in the park last summer.

Chandra Levy
Chandra Levy  

Ingmar Guandique, a 22-year-old laborer from El Salvador, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for the assaults, one of which occurred two weeks after Levy's disappearance.

The search for Levy drew massive publicity largely because of her connection to Rep. Gary Condit, D-California.

Her family and police sources say the two had an affair, but the lawmaker has publicly acknowledged only a friendship and refused to describe it further. Police sources said he confirmed a romantic relationship with Levy during one interview with investigators.




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