Special Reports

May 23, 2002

Phone call confirms worst for Levys

As Robert and Susan Levy talked with Oprah Winfrey early Wednesday, all hope had been lost for their daughter, Chandra.

They just didn't know it yet.

While the Levys and the television talk show host spoke via satellite about the search for Chandra, investigators were uncovering her remains in a Washington, D.C., park.

Shortly after Oprah's camera crew left the Levys' Modesto home, the family got a heart-wrenching phone call. Washington Police Chief Charles Ramsey told them of the discovery, and the tone of his voice braced them for the worst.

Word quickly leaked to the media, and soon dozens of TV crews, satellite vans, photographers and reporters converged on the Levy home.

It was a mob scene outside. The family stayed inside. And everyone waited while investigators worked to identify the remains.

Family friend and attorney George Arata briefed the media: "They're praying this is not Chandra."

After hours of dread, a televised news bulletin broke the bad news.

"Everyone is very, very distraught," Stanislaus County Sheriff Les Weidman said after visiting the family. "They are experiencing a tremendous amount of pain. This has been a very difficult, very tough time for them. The emotions have been building up for 13 months."

So have the suspicions.

The Levys named Rep. Gary Condit as the focus of their distrust. The Ceres congressman has not denied multiple reports that he was romantically involved with the 24-year-old Washington intern before her disappearance.

"I'm angry that Gary Condit has not come forward and helped our family," Susan Levy told Winfrey. "I think he knows a lot more than he's admitting."

Winfrey asked the Levys if they believe that Condit knows the truth. "Oh, yes, I think he does," Susan Levy replied.

Condit has denied having anything to do with Levy's disappearance or knowing what happened to her.

The congressman's lawyer, Mark Geragos, said Levy's death seems to parallel the cases of two other missing women in Washington and supports Condit's belief that a serial killer may be responsible.

"It's certainly not a red-letter day for the D.C. police," Geragos said Wednesday afternoon. "If, as reported, she left with only her tennis shoes and her keys, and was going jogging, wouldn't you look on the jogging trails? How do you miss somebody? It's mind-boggling."

Geragos said "police have a lot of explaining to do."

Arata said he isn't impressed by Condit's serial killer theory.

"If he truly believes that, prove it. Don't just say it," Arata said.

He also countered media reports that Condit had expressed his condolences to the Levys. Arata said Condit's attorney may have talked to reporters, but the congressman did not contact the Levys personally.

Bee staff writers Lisa Millegan and Michael G. Mooney and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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