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D.C. Police Hold Briefing on Chandra Levy Case

Aired May 22, 2002 - 17:55   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Chief Ramsey is walking to the microphone now. Let's listen in.

CHARLES RAMSEY, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: We have received word from Dr. Arden over at the D.C. medical examiner's office that the remains found earlier today were in fact Chandra Levy. The identification was made through dental records.

The manner, cause of death is still pending. There is certainly more work that needs to be done at the medical examiner's office, but they did, in fact, verify the fact that it was the body of Ms. Levy. We have notified the family. They are aware of this, and behalf of all the men and women of my department and the city of Washington, D.C., we'd like to extend our condolences to the family. It's been a very long and difficult journey for them. And, unfortunately, it did end with their learning of the death of their daughter.

QUESTION: Chief, do you any information at this time suggesting foul play in her death?

RAMSEY: Matter and cause of death is pending. The medical examiner will continue to examine the remains, and I'm certain that he'll be coming up with a ruling later. But right now, the only information I have is that he was able to confirm her identity through dental records.

QUESTION: Clearly, you're treating it as a crime and a crime scene.

RAMSEY: This is no longer a missing person. It's being handled as a death investigation. And once we find out manner and cause of death, that could change again.

QUESTION: How difficult is it going to be for the M.E.?

RAMSEY: I have no idea. The medical examiner is very, very capable of being able to sift through the evidence found, and I'm certain he'll make a determination. The question is just how long it's going to take him to be able to reconstruct enough of the evidence to be able to make a determination.

QUESTION: Did the crime scene techs find a ring that you believe to be hers and that that was then shown to the Levys? RAMSEY: Well, again, we're not going to get into the specifics of some of the items found. But the items found, the clothing was very consistent with clothing worn by a female. There were other articles recovered that gave us a very, very strong suspicion that it was probably the body of Chandra Levy. But the final determination was made as a result of the analysis of the dental work.

QUESTION: Have you now recovered a full skeleton, Chief?

QUESTION: Did you speak with the Levys yourself? And if so, could you tell us about that conversation?

RAMSEY: I spoke with the Levys twice today, the last call I made to confirm the finding of the medical examiner. I spoke with one of the attorneys for the Levys who wanted to be the ones to break the news.

Unfortunately, they began to see on news reports some of the speculation that it might be their daughter and we were trying not to have that happen because that's pretty traumatic to find out that a loved one passed away that way.

QUESTION: Have you found a full skeleton here, sir?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that she may have been jogging in the area here?

RAMSEY: There was clothing found. Again, I'm not going to talk about the specific type of clothing that was found, but it did lead us to believe that it was perhaps her based on some of the articles that were recovered.

QUESTION: Did you find a complete skeleton, though?

RAMSEY: We have found quite a bit of the skeletal remains. The search continues. It will continue. We'll secure the scene overnight and continue again in the morning if that becomes necessary. U.S. Park Police is working alongside us in this. The detectives that had this originally, detectives Kennedy (ph) and Durant (ph), will continue to work this case. They are from violent crimes. And they will be continuing to work this case along with the assistance we've received from the FBI.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Is there any indication that she was buried?

RAMSEY: Right now, we're still searching the scene, and it's a pretty wide area that we have to take a look at. You can tell from just the view that you have here just how difficult it is at this point to be able to say for certain that this is a scene both of where she died as well as where the body was recovered. We don't know if this is the primary scene or a secondary scene.

QUESTION: Could you speak to that a little bit more? Are you saying that there is a possibility that her body was not here last summer when the police...

RAMSEY: We don't know. Again, when the medical examiner begins to process all the remains that he has as well as other evidence, we're hopeful that he'll be able to fix a time of death. And if he's able to do that, then we'll be able to kind of tell whether or not she was there during the time immediately following her disappearance, if it was sometime later. We just don't have enough to be able to tell you that right now.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) area searched last year?

RAMSEY: We searched over 1,700 acres of Rock Creek Park. This is a very inaccessible area. That's why even with the number of people that come through Rock Creek Park, a body was just discovered. This is not on a roadway. It's back up in the woods quite a ways. So, and with the very thick foliage that you see here, it's very easy to not find something here.

(CROSSTALK)

It's a ways from Klingle. But again, Klingle Mansion -- the only thing with Klingle Mansion was the fact that we knew that she had gone to Rock Creek Park on the last day that we knew that she was alive for whatever reason. Klingle Mansion happens to be part of that homepage.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about the person who called?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Are those reports accurate or inaccurate?

RAMSEY: We found a variety of things. And right now, I'm not going to get into a specific listing of all the items recovered. But we did find items that suggested, A: that the remains were that of a female; and that B: it was a strong possibility it could have been the body of Chandra Levy.

QUESTION: Without asking you specifically what items of clothing were found, but based upon what was found, whatever it was, do you feel that it's possible that all of the clothing she wore when she left her apartment is accounted for here, or did she appear to be partially clothed?

RAMSEY: I don't know. The remains were exposed to the elements for some time. So, obviously, there's some disruption that takes place as a result of that both in terms of weather and other factors whenever a body is exposed to outdoors like this. All that will be part of the investigation. And as we start to reconstruct the crime scene, then we'll be able to see.

QUESTION: What is this discovery going to do?

QUESTION: Was there any indication of a shallow grave, Chief?

RAMSEY: We've not seen any indication yet, but the search continues.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... tonight and into tomorrow morning, are you continuing the search?

RAMSEY: This will be closed off at least through the remainder of the night and until our mobile crime scene people are comfortable that they've combed the area thoroughly and gathered all evidence that should be gathered, then it will remain shut down.

QUESTION: What ideas and what conclusions can you draw now just from seeing the crime scene and where the body was and how it was?

RAMSEY: There's nothing much you can draw other than the fact that we've just identified the remains. Again, there's a lot of work that has yet to be done. The medical examiner's determination as to the manner and cause of death is still pending. Once we get that piece of information, it will give us a little better handle on what might have occurred. There has been a considerable amount of time that's passed apparently and the body has been out here for quite some time. So it's not something that is going to be easy to be able to draw those kinds of conclusions.

QUESTION: What's going to happen to the investigation now?

RAMSEY: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about the man that found the body?

RAMSEY: Well, all I can tell you is it's a person who was walking his dog. And while he was doing that, he was actually searching for turtles in Rock Creek Park, which meant that he was in areas that most folks will probably not be traveling. The dog actually discovered something, and upon closer inspection, he didn't really know what it was until he began to pull away some of the leaves and dirt that surrounded what turned out to be the skull.

QUESTION: Where does the investigation stand at this point, Chief?

RAMSEY: The investigation is being handled as a death investigation. It's being handled by our violent crimes branch, Detectives Durant (ph) and Kennedy (ph) who have had this from the very beginning, continue to be the lead investigators. And we'll wait until the medical examiner can determine manner and cause of death. That will determine the next direction we take.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

RAMSEY: Well, again, we've interviewed a lot of people. Obviously, we have to go back over a lot of things. This does put us on a different path, one that we had traveled as a possibility, but now we know that her death is now a reality. So what we have to do is investigate the circumstances around her death, and that's going to be the focus of the investigation from this point forward.

QUESTION: Will that investigation grow in size now?

RAMSEY: We'll use whatever resources and however many people we need to handle this investigation like we do all our investigations. But right now, the purpose of my being before you is to simply confirm the fact that the remains found today in Rock Creek Park are in fact those of missing intern Chandra Levy. And, again, our deepest sympathies to the family.

QUESTION: Were there any signs at all of trauma? Were any of the bones...

BLITZER: We're going to break away from Chief Ramsey for a moment. A lawyer representing the Levy family, we saw him approaching the microphone but now he's walking back, George Arata. Let's go back to Chief Ramsey while we await what's happenings outside the Levy family home.

RAMSEY: It's something that he's going to take his time and he is going to go through. We've had someone here from the Smithsonian...

(INTERRUPTED FOR LIVE EVENT)

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