Police believe they have identified the killer of Chandra Levy, eight years after the disappearance of the Washington intern transfixed much of the nation and ended the political career of a prominent California lawmaker, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.
The Washington Metropolitan Police Department has submitted evidence to prosecutors that it believes proves that a Salvadoran immigrant already in prison for attacks against two other women killed Levy in a remote part of Rock Creek Park in Northwest Washington in 2001, the law enforcement official said.
The remains of the 24-year-old Levy were found a year after she vanished, and police and federal authorities have been investigating the case as a homicide ever since.
Police recently submitted their evidence to the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, which prosecutes most local crimes in the capital, seeking an arrest warrant for Ingmar Guandique, a longtime suspect in the case, said the law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Levy's parents, Robert and Susan Levy, said yesterday that two top Washington police officials called them Friday night to say that an arrest was imminent, and that while investigators could not disclose the name of the suspect, they had gathered evidence that could "pinpoint" who killed Levy.
One of the callers, Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier, said she considered it "the highlight" of her career to be on the verge of closing the case, Susan Levy said yesterday at the couple's home in Modesto, Calif.
"I think they have some new evidence, but I don't know what it is," Robert Levy said.
The police department's submission of the warrant to the U.S. attorney's office is the first step toward charges being brought, said the law enforcement official. Federal prosecutors will now review the warrant and determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with charges based on the case outlined by the police, and then forward the prosecution package to a judge for a second-tier review and approval. That review is expected to happen early this week. No arrest is expected to occur before then, the official said.
Guandique is serving a 10-year prison sentence for attacking two female joggers in the same park about the same time at Levy's disappearance. He has denied any involvement in Levy's killing.
The police department said yesterday that it would not discuss any aspect of the case. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, Monty Wilkinson, said he could not comment.
Levy's disappearance in May 2001 set off an investigation by police and the FBI and that prompted headlines worldwide because it initially involved Rep. Gary Condit, a California Democrat who was reportedly having an affair with Levy, a former Bureau of Prisons intern.
At times, police lines were flooded with calls from tipsters who claimed to have information about Levy's whereabouts and what happened to her. The Levys hired a private investigator, and they have remained outspoken about the need to solve their daughter's case.
When last seen, Levy, 24, was wearing jogging clothes, and many of her possessions were found in her apartment as if she had planned on returning shortly. Soon afterward, Condit was being followed by reporters all around Washington and in his home district in California's Central Valley.
Condit was cleared as a suspect, but the negative publicity likely contributed to his re-election defeat in 2002.