Special Reports

June 7, 2002

Leg bone at park probably Levy's

WASHINGTON -- Investigators working for Chandra Levy's family on Thursday found a 12- to 14-inch bone near where the 24-year-old woman's remains were discovered in Rock Creek Park, and the medical examiner said Thursday night that he believes that it may be her missing shinbone.

Dr. Jonathan Arden said the leg bone is "consistent in every way" with the remains that were recovered 21/2 weeks ago.

"It is in the same condition. And it is essentially the same size as the right tibia, or shinbone, that we had," Arden said. "So my working hypothesis is that it comes from Chandra."

Last week Arden said he could not determine from Levy's skeletal remains how she died. But he said the circumstances of the Modesto woman's disappearance in April 2001 and the location of her body, covered by brush and leaves at the base of a steep cliff, led to his conclusion that she had been killed.

Thursday night, he said the new find shows "no specific injury" that would lead him to change the cause of death from "undetermined."

The private investigators also found some wire, possibly a hanger, near where the bone was found. The wire had been bent into a near-figure eight.

Police Chief Charles Ramsey said the wire may not be connected to the crime scene but instead might be wire used to support growing trees.

A man walking his dog came across Levy's remains May 22, and police then spent a week scouring the area. The search continued day and night and at various points involved crime scene technicians, anthropologists, an archaeologist and more than a dozen "cadaver" dogs.

Police initially downplayed the likelihood that the bone might be Levy's, but Thursday night the department released a statement saying that the new find was uncovered 25 yards from where Levy's skull was found. Police cordoned off the area, called out the mobile crime unit and resumed the search.

"It is unacceptable that these items were not located," Ramsey said in the statement.

Former District of Columbia homicide Detectives Joe McCann and Duane Stanton made the find. The investigators, hired by Levy family attorney Billy Martin, had gone to the park with a reporter to look for evidence.

McCann and Stanton were raking an area when they found the bone and the wire, both covered by leaves.

"You'd think the cadaver dogs would have located it," Ramsey said Thursday before Arden had identified the bone. "When we released the scene, we knew the left leg had not been located."

Thursday morning, on WTOP Radio's "Ask the Chief" program, Ramsey said the mobile crime unit had done "an excellent, excellent job" of investigating the area. "It's very difficult to search" the thicket where the bones were found.

Lawrence Kobilinsky, a professor of forensic science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said: "The question now is, what else have they missed? Is there a murder weapon sitting around some place?"

Police launched a search for Levy in the 1,754-acre Rock Creek Park on July 16, six weeks after she vanished. They used dozens of police recruits and the dogs, ending the search July 26.

Last month, after Levy's remains were found, police acknowledged that they had not searched the general area where her skeleton was discovered.

Failing to search that area, Kobilinsky said, was "when the case was blown. If it was isolated, all the more reason to search the area."

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