Things About The Chandra Levy Case That Never Made Sense

On Monday, April 23, 2001, 24-year-old Chandra Ann Levy completed her final day as an intern for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C. Five days later, she left a message for her landlord, explaining that she would be moving back home to Modesto, California, on May 5 or 6 (via ABC News). As reported by NBC Washington, Levy planned to return to California in time to attend her May 11 graduation from the University of Southern California, where she earned a master's degree. She canceled her membership at the Washington Sports Club on Monday, April 30, and was last seen leaving the building shortly after 7:00 p.m. The following day, Levy sent her parents an email to tell them about her plans to return home. Unfortunately, Levy was never seen or heard from again.

ABC News reports Levy's landlord attempted to call her multiple times on Wednesday, May 2, to confirm the specific date she planned to leave. However, his calls went unanswered. The landlord and Levy's parents continued trying to contact her via telephone and email. As they were unable to reach her, Levy's parents contacted the police on Saturday, May 5.

Authorities searched Levy's apartment and conducted an extensive search of the area around the apartment complex, including several public parks along the Anacostia and Potomac rivers. However, they did not find any trace of the missing woman. Over one year later, on Wednesday, May 22, 2002, Levy's skeletal remains were found in Rock Creek Park. 

Chandra Levy's relationship with Gary Condit sparks controversy

Medical examiner Jonathan Arden ruled Chandra Levy's manner of death a homicide. However, as reported by ABC News, her cause of death could not be determined due to the level of decomposition.

Early in the investigation into Levy's disappearance, rumors emerged about a relationship between the intern and Congressman Gary Condit. According to NBC Washington, Levy told her family she made a "secret friend" when she moved to Washington, D.C.; Levy later revealed the friend was Congressman Condit. Chandra's mother, Susan, called Condit when her daughter went missing. During the call, she asked Condit whether he knew anything about her daughter's whereabouts and eventually asked the congressman whether he and Chandra were having an affair. ABC News reports Condit ultimately disclosed he last spoke with Levy on the telephone on Sunday, April 29. However, he vehemently denied having a romantic relationship with the missing woman.

Condit was initially reluctant to discuss his association with Levy, fueling rumors they were having an affair. However, he was never charged or considered a suspect in her disappearance or death. In an attempt to quell the rumors, Condit voluntarily took a lie detector test, which reportedly concluded he was not involved in Levy's disappearance or death. Still, the nature of their relationship remains unclear.

In a statement, which was published by CNN, Levy's aunt, Linda Zamsky, said Levy confided to her that she was having a romantic relationship with Condit.

Ingmar Guandique becomes a primary suspect

CNN reports that Gary Condit's DNA was discovered on a pair of panties found in Levy's apartment, further fueling rumors that they were romantically involved. However, his DNA was not found at the murder scene.

As reported by Today, Condit insisted his relationship with Chandra Levy was platonic in a 2016 interview with Dr. Phil. During the interview, Condit said, "I saw her one time outside the office, at a restaurant ... she came by my condo once ... maybe twice ... I want to make clear there's nothing unusual about someone coming by my condo — a lot of people did, so people have made some speculation about that ... "

Although he was never considered a suspect, Condit's connection to Levy dominated media coverage of the case, and rumors of his involvement persisted for decades. However, the emergence of a new person of interest eventually took the focus away from Condit. In August 2001, The Washington Post reports that authorities received a tip from a jailhouse informant, who said a man named Ingmar Guandique — who had been convicted of assaulting several women in Rock Creek Park — confessed to abducting and killing Levy. However, the information was deemed to be unreliable after Guandique passed a polygraph examination.

According to The National Registry of Exonerations, authorities turned their attention back to Guandique in 2008 when reexamining the case and Guandique's history of assaulting women in the same park where Levy's body was found.

Ingmar Guandique was convicted, but the conviction was later overturned

Amid their investigation, authorities searched Ingmar Guandique's cell and ultimately found a photograph of Chandra Levy, which had been cut from a magazine article. The National Registry of Exonerations reports that authorities also interviewed Guandique's fellow inmates to determine whether he had discussed Levy's case. An inmate named Armando Morales informed the authorities that Guandique confessed to him that he was responsible for Levy's death.

Guandique was arrested in March 2009 and charged with attempted robbery, kidnapping, and first-degree murder in Levy's abduction and death. Despite a lack of any physical evidence linking him to the former intern, he was ultimately convicted on all three charges and sentenced to 60 years in prison. In the years following his conviction, Guandique's defense team discovered evidence suggesting Morales' story was fabricated, including a recorded conversation in which he admitted he lied to authorities. According to The National Registry of Exonerations, they also learned Morales lied when asked whether he served as an informant in any previous cases. The defense team also discovered that prosecutors unlawfully withheld information that may have assisted in Guandique's defense.

Guandique's defense team petitioned for — and were granted — a new trial based on the evidence they presented. However, prosecutors determined there was not enough evidence to secure another conviction, and the charges against Guandique were dismissed. As he was an undocumented immigrant, Guandique was released to the Department of Homeland Security and deported back to El Salvador in May 2017.

Things about Chandra Levy's case that do not make sense

Following Ingmar Guandique's release, authorities never identified any other suspects or persons of interest in Chandra Levy's abduction and death. They also noted a number of unusual pieces of evidence and circumstances linked to this cold case that have never been explained.

As reported by CBS News, authorities found male DNA on the clothing Levy was wearing when she was killed. However, the DNA was not linked to Gary Condit or Ingmar Guandique. In fact, authorities have never found a match for the DNA. And as noted by ABC News, Levy's cause of death is not — and may never be — known, as nothing was found at the scene to indicate how she was actually killed. It is simply assumed that she was abducted and killed while she was walking or jogging in the park.

During their search of Levy's apartment, authorities noted her cell phone, driver's license, credit cards, and checkbook were all found inside. It is unclear whether she usually took those things when she left the apartment. However, it is noteworthy that she left without any of her possessions. NBC Washington reports that Levy's apartment seemed to be in order, and none of her valuables had been stolen.

Three days before she vanished, Levy left a voicemail message for her aunt Linda that has also become a point of speculation. As reported by CBS News, Levy let her aunt know that her internship had ended and she would be returning home to California. 

It's still unclear what actually happened to Chandra Levy

As reported by CBS News, Chandra Levy also said she wanted to share some "big news" with her aunt. Unfortunately, she did not clarify what the news was about, did not mention it to anyone else, and nobody found anything indicating what she may have been excited about.

Authorities were also blamed for making several mistakes that might have influenced the integrity of the investigation. Time reports that a sergeant, who was attempting to read the search history on Levy's laptop, inadvertently cleared the history, which delayed the discovery that she was searching for information about the park where her body was eventually found. Officials also failed to check the apartment complex surveillance cameras until the footage from the day Levy went missing had already been erased. Elsewhere, authorities were criticized for failing to more closely examine Ingmar Guandique's possible involvement when he was first identified as a person of interest.

Critics have also suggested authorities botched the search for Levy, which likely delayed the discovery of her remains and made it impossible for the coroner to determine her cause of death. As reported by The Washington Post, officials who searched the park in 2001 were told to limit their search to the roads in and around the park. As a result, the trails and interior of the forest were not part of the initial search.