Special Reports

May 24, 2002

Probe into Levy's death builds

WASHINGTON -- Police began re-examining some disturbing old crimes in Rock Creek Park on Thursday, as investigators dug deeper for Chandra Levy's remains.

With medical examiners not expecting to announce a cause of death until today at the earliest, police have stopped short of declaring Levy a victim of homicide.

They are, however, reviewing the files of a man serving time for attacking two other women in Rock Creek Park last year, including one attack two weeks after Levy disappeared.

"We talked to him some time ago," Washington Police Chief Charles Ramsey said Thursday. "And we plan perhaps to talk to him again."

The man, Ingmar Guandeque, pleaded guilty to attacking two women joggers in the heavily wooded park.

Alongside Levy's remains, police found a portable radio and tape-player headset and jogging apparel.

Guandeque, who turned 20 in February, is serving a 10-year sentence in a federal prison in North Carolina.

"The circumstances of his previous attacks were known to us," Assistant Police Chief Terrance Gainer said on one television interview. "I think we have to go back and re-interview a lot of people we're interested in."

Gainer and Ramsey both left open the possibility that they might also seek a fifth interview with Rep. Gary Condit, D-Ceres. It was Condit's relationship with Levy, which he publicly characterized as a "very close" one, that spurred so much interest in her disappearance.

Police have said they don't consider Condit a suspect.

Most of the focus Thursday, though, was in the lab and along the park's poison ivy-tangled ground. A busload of police academy recruits returned to comb the area. The two federal prosecutors assigned to the case, who are overseeing a grand jury that subpoenaed documents from Condit's office, also showed up, along with detectives and FBI agents.

Levy was last seen April 30, 2001. Investigators on Wednesday and Thursday had uncovered a sports bra, a University of Southern California shirt and running shoes, along with other items and Levy's skeletal remains. Gainer said no jewelry or keys have been found.

Her remains were found at the base of what Ramsey termed a cliff, not particularly close to any jogging path or paved road.

Gainer estimated that another cadre of police recruit searchers came within about 125 yards of the site during highly publicized searches last summer.

In a May 14, 2001, attack that occurred within about a mile of where Levy's remains were found, Guandeque began running behind a woman jogger. At about 6:30 p.m., he brandished a knife and pulled the jogger to the ground. He grabbed the woman around the neck, according to a Justice Department press release at the time, and bit her when she shoved him, but he eventually ran away.

About 7:30 p.m. in the same vicinity on July 1, 2001, Guandeque grabbed another woman from behind.

"This victim reported that he pulled her off the trail, and the two rolled down the hill into a ravine," the Justice Department press released stated. "She also reported that he held a knife to her chin, covered her mouth because she was screaming and told her to be quiet."

Guandeque was sentenced to two concurrent 10-year sentences in February, after pleading guilty to two counts of assault with intent to commit robbery. At the time, Superior Court Judge Noel Kramer termed Guandeque predatory and extremely dangerous in the way he followed the women and sought physical confrontation.

Visited by an estimated 2 million people annually, 1,754-acre Rock Creek Park is crisscrossed by jogging trails and tree-shaded roads and is only about two miles from Levy's apartment.

Shortly before she disappeared, police say, Levy visited an Internet site listing the park's 19th century Klingle Mansion. But Gainer added Thursday that "the information we have is that she did not often jog outdoors," as she preferred using the treadmill at a gym several blocks from her apartment.

The gym is where Levy was last seen in public.

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

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