Levys find Washington visit 'productive'

May 3, 2002 

WASHINGTON -- The rain stopped, and Chandra Levy's parents emerged.

From police headquarters, the couple strode to the assembled television cameras that have shadowed their sorrow. They appeared composed -- even, against all odds, rested and dry-eyed.

Police Chief Charles Ramsey had just told them that "one phone call" from an as-yet unknown source could solve the mystery of Chandra's disappearance. That seemed to buoy the Levys on Thursday as they prepared to return home to Modesto.

"We've had a very productive visit," Susan Levy said following the police meeting. "They're still very active in the investigation."

The Thursday morning meeting, which lasted about 45 minutes, brought the Levys back together with the police leadership that has struggled with the high-profile case of their daughter's disappearance.

At least momentarily, given the media's penchant for marking anniversaries, the Levys reclaimed the spotlight that both dogged and benefited them last summer.

They sat down for a dozen interviews on national and local television over two days, and they greeted five television cameras Thursday upon leaving police headquarters.

They make no bones about the fact that increased visibility might yet be their best hope for catching a break in the case.

"We're hoping for that one phone call," said the Levys' attorney, Billy Martin. "If there's a tiny piece of evidence, we need to connect it."

Martin accompanied the Levys to the meeting with Chief Ramsey, his top deputy, the superintendent of detectives and the two detectives who have carried the case from the beginning. They agreed, save for Ramsey's characterization of the solution being only "one phone call away," to keep private most of what was discussed.

"He wants to solve this case," Martin said, "and we give the police the benefit of the doubt that they're doing the best they can."

Martin, evidently echoing the investigators' private commitments, added that "they're still actively looking into leads" and trying to develop further the information that has been collected so far.

Separately, two private detectives working for Martin have likewise stayed on the case.

But the number of over-the-transom tips and phone calls coming in, investigators conceded, has fallen dramatically since last summer, when Levy's disappearance and her reported relationship with Rep. Gary Condit of Ceres drew considerable attention.

The Levys did not attempt to meet this week with Condit, who on March 5 lost his bid for renomination to an eighth term. He has not publicly characterized his relationship with Levy except to say that they were "close," but he also has not denied published reports that he admitted to police that he had an affair with her.

When the Levys had said their piece Thursday morning, they left for some downtime in the nation's capital. They are due to return today to Modesto, where their private lives await.

Bee Washington Bureau reporter Michael Doyle can be reached at (202) 383-0006 or mdoyle@mcclatchydc.com.

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