Chandra Levy's brief life remembered
MODESTO, California (CNN) -- Friends and family gathered to celebrate Chandra Levy's life Tuesday, just hours after police ruled that her death was a homicide.
"When we think of our beloved goddaughter, we're not going to look down at the ground, we're going to look up at the stars because that's where she is right now," said Fran Iseman, Chandra's godmother, after the service.
"She's in God's hands, she's home and she's higher than the moon," said Iseman, who explained that Chandra's name means "higher than the moon."
About 1,200 people attended the memorial service for the 24-year-old woman at the Modesto Center Plaza.
"Our love for our daughter forever will burn," read one line from a poem on the program. Bouquets of flowers and pictures of Levy decorated the center as a string quarter played.
Hand-in-hand and clad in black, Robert, Susan and Adam Levy -- Chandra's parents and brother -- arrived to attend the service.
Adam Levy said of his sister during the ceremony: "We always loved and cared for each other."
After the service, Paul Katz, an uncle, said he remembered his niece as a "lovely and vivacious" young woman with a taste for chocolate and peanut butter cups.
"She was every father's daughter," he said, thanking the public for its support during the past year.
Levy's remains were found last week scattered in a remote part of Rock Creek Park about one year after she disappeared.
Chandra was last seen in Washington on April 30, 2001, shortly after she completed an internship with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. She had been planning to return to Modesto.
Friends of the Levy family said the parents were devastated by the discovery.
"When someone is missing, they're just that -- they're missing," said Marla Arata. "They're not necessarily dead, so you always have that flicker of hope in your heart. And when that flicker, that flame is extinguished, the pain can be excruciating."
Attorney Billy Martin said he had the bitter task this morning of telling the family that the medical examiner had ruled Chandra's death a homicide.
"Every time I share a bit of information like this, it breaks their heart again. Even though they wanted to know the results of the finding, both Dr. and Mrs. Levy were heartbroken again this morning," Martin said.
Washington medical examiner Jonathan Arden said Levy's remains will be turned over to her family soon and his office will not conduct any more tests on them unless new evidence were to emerge where that might prove helpful.
"It is possible we will never know specifically the injury that caused her death," Arden said. He did not rule out any possible causes, including strangulation, but said there was "insufficient evidence" to arrive at any definitive ruling.
"There was no evidence of which injury caused her death," Arden said, suggesting there was more than one injury to Levy's body.
Martin said he and his investigators and the police are determined to solve the case.
"We want justice," said Martin. "Somebody out there knows information that would help solve now the murder of Chandra Levy."
No one has been named as a suspect in the case, but investigators are exploring whether Levy's death might be linked to two assaults in the park last summer.
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 said the two had an affair, but the lawmaker 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.
"We think that Congressman Condit, as a result of his relationship with Chandra, knows something about her state of mind, how she was feeling, what she may have been doing just prior to her disappearance," Martin said.
"We'd love to talk to Congressman Condit. And now that this case has been classified as a homicide, I'm sure the police will go back and talk with every witness, including the congressman," he said.
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