The dynamic intern vanished 6 months ago, and still no signs, no sightings, no body. Cosmo learns why forensics experts believe she was probably killed by someone who knew her well. ...
... As you have heard by now, Chandra Ann Levy disappeared in Washington, D.C., on May 1, only a few weeks after her birthday. Soon after the happy, though in retrospect, ominous, videotape, Chandra found herself somewhat at loose ends. Her internship ended abruptly on April 23 after her supervisors discovered that Chandra, who had recently completed a master's degree in public administration at the University of Southern California, was no longer eligible for a student position. Suddenly not sure what her summer held, she planned to see friends at USC's commencement on May 11. She had also told her parents she would spend time at home in Modesto, California, while she awaited the results of her pending application for her dream job--a position at the FBI.
Since her parents reported her missing on May 6, investigators have spent months looking for Chandra, combing parks near her apartment in Dupont Circle, canvassing abandoned buildings, and interviewing neighbors, former colleagues, and USC friends. Until they find her body, they will continue to call her disappearance a missing persons case and won't rule out the following possibilities: that she committed suicide, was abducted, deliberately ran away, or was even struck with some kind of amnesia. Police also refuse to call Congressman Gary Condit, with whom she was having a secretive six-month affair, a suspect, even though the Levys say he lied to them several times and he still refuses to admit publicly that the relationship was sexual. ...
...Unraveling the Mystery
But before we jump to any conclusions, let us weigh all the non-Condit-related scenarios that the police have considered. First, there is suicide. Chandra was certainly at a vulnerable age for taking her own life--according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the third most common cause of death (after car crashes and other accidents) for people aged 15 to 24 in 1998, the most recent year for which statistics are available. But it is young white males who are most likely to kill themselves, at a rate four times greater than women. Despite her recent setbacks, Chandra's parents are adamant that she didn't kill herself" She was too focused, too happy, too driven. Chandra's aunt, who received an "upbeat and full of life" phone message from Chandra two days before her disappearance, is also certain her niece didn't commit suicide. "There was absolutely no indication that she was upset," Zamsky says. Plus, most people kill themselves in their home. As time goes by and no body is found, s uicide becomes a less plausible theory. "You can't kill yourself and bury yourself," said D.C.'s Chief of Police Charles Ramsey in July. "At some point, a body does surface."
Could Chandra have simply run away on her own accord? Not likely. Runaways are usually younger than Chandra; 85 percent of them are between the ages of 14 and 17, according to the National Runaway Switchboard. In addition, Chandra had clearly indicated to her parents that she was planning to come home. And if she was a runaway, she was terrifically ill-equipped, bringing neither her luggage nor her wallet with her.
An even more remote possibility is amnesia. In 1985, a newspaper reporter named Jody Roberts disappeared one night from Tacoma, Washington. Twelve years later, she was found in Alaska, married with children and with no memory of her past life. Long-term memory loss is often the result of a serious injury--a hard fall or blow to the head--so it would be unusual, researchers say, for someone with severe amnesia not to end up in the hospital. But the hospitals around D.C. have been checked for unidentified women resembling Chandra, and no matches have been found.
As for kidnapping, it hardly ever happens to adults, "Most missing people are not abducted in the sense of an actual kidnapping, by a stranger," says private eye Steven Rambam, who has investigated more than a thousand missing persons cases.
And when people are abducted, it's highly unusual for there to he no ransom demand--as, of course, there has not been in the more than five months that Chandra has been missing.
A Dangerous Encounter?
The most likely scenario, then, involves foul play. At 5 feet 3 and weighing about 110 pounds, Chandra could easily have been an attractive target to a rapist or murderer, and Washington certainly has its share of both. Last year alone, 242 people were murdered and 251 were raped in D.C., according to preliminary FBI statistics. Certainly no one is immune to a determined and violent stranger, but Chandra's friends say that she was unusually cautious and self-possessed. "We would purposely go on outings together so we would not have to be by ourselves," said Jennifer Baker, a friend from USC who interned at Condit's office and introduced Chandra to the congressman last fall. "She's very aware of her surroundings," says Lisa Bracken, a close friend of Chandra's from Davis High School in Modesto. "She used to have Mace on her key chain." In fact, Chandra had moved to a highly secure building in the gentrified neighborhood of Dupont Circle in September 2000 after deciding that her first pad in Arlington, Virginia , was unsafe.
But the biggest hitch to the stranger-murder theory is the fact that Chandra's body hasn't turned up. "Serial killers are not typically concerned about concealing a body," says criminal profiler Pat Brown, who runs the Sexual Homicide Exchange, a Washington, D.C, investigative organization. "They don't believe they'll be caught." Private investigator McCann says that Chandra would have turned up by now "unless somebody went to extra lengths to conceal her body or she went to extra lengths to remain hidden herself." If Chandra was murdered, her killer was apparently quite concerned about being caught, and that level of concern would most likely come from someone she knew....
...Violence against women at the hands of romantic partners is frighteningly common. "About 30 percent of all murdered women in the United States are killed by a current or former boyfriend, husband, or lover," says Candice DeLong, a criminal profiler and author of Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI. "Another 46 percent of women are killed by acquaintances, friends, or family. That leaves only 24 percent who are killed by strangers. I do not believe that Chandra was the victim of random violence; she left the apartment with her keys, so she intended to return. She left with someone she knew--and that person is responsible for her disappearance." ...".