Special Reports

May 22, 2003

Levy's remains to be returned to Modesto, godparents say

WASHINGTON -- Chandra Levy's remains are being prepared for return to Modesto, where a private burial service could occur within the next week, her godparents say.

The timing remains unclear, and members of Levys' immediate family could not be reached Wednesday.

But with today marking the one-year anniversary of the discovery of Levy's remains in a Washington, D.C., park, officials acknowledged that the long-awaited transfer is imminent. It is occurring as those who loved Levy wonder what comes next for the long-stalled investigation into her murder.

"I think it's helpful" to some family members, Levy's godfather, Charles Iseman, said Wednesday of the remains' transfer, but "I would not use the word closure."

Fran Iseman, Charles' wife and Levy's godmother, became close friends with Levy's mother, Susan, when they were teen-agers. Fran Iseman spoke at the May 2002 memorial service in Modesto for Chandra Levy.

For the most part, though, the Isemans have stayed out of the public spotlight in the two years since their goddaughter disappeared.

Fruitless investigations

But over time, they have grown increasingly frustrated at two fruitless investigations, one by police and one by private investigators working for Levy family attorney Billy Martin.

"We think people have averted their eyes," Fran Iseman said, "and we think all the evidence has not been fully looked at."

At one point, Martin hired three renowned forensics experts -- but they have not been able to complete their work.

Dr. Henry Lee reiterated Wednesday that he and his colleagues did "a visual inspection" using magnifying glasses that magnified the Levy bone fragments by up to 10 times.

However, they were not able to examine the fragments with a microscope, which would have magnified the fragments by 100 to 400 times or even more.

Lee said the team also was not able to conduct chemical tests on the bones, review clothing fragments or biological samples or see videotapes of the rugged Rock Creek Park site where the remains were found.

"It's a total outrage that these things have not been done," Charles Iseman said. "We think it's vital that the investigation be reinvigorated by an independent team" of lawyers and private investigators.

Lee said the question of why certain tests had not been performed was up to the lawyers.

"We cannot just walk in and conduct an investigation," Lee said Wednesday.

Martin has not returned phone calls over the past week seeking an update on the case.

Never called to testify

Fran Iseman also wonders why a Washington-based grand jury never called her to testify, though she was close to Chandra Levy, who, with her parents, spent her 24th birthday at the Isemans' place about two weeks before the disappearance.

Levy's aunt, Linda (Zamsky) Katz, likewise said she was not called to testify, even though she said Chandra Levy confided in her about an affair with then-Rep. Gary Condit of Ceres. Condit, defeated for re-election last year, has stopped denying published reports that he told police about the affair.

Police repeatedly said Condit was not a suspect in Levy's disappearance. Apart from the disappearance, classified as a murder once Levy's remains were discovered, investigators have said they are interested in whether anyone obstructed justice.

The grand jury subpoenaed three of Condit's former staff members to testify. Condit also was summoned last year but did not testify. According to The Washington Post, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, Condit "chose to exercise his right not to appear before the panel."

Charles Iseman said it is his fervent hope that the Justice Department perseveres in the case.

"The cry for justice for Chandra screams out to the heavens," Fran Iseman said.

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

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