Special Reports

March 25, 2002

As coverage persists, Levy search redoubles

(Published: Tuesday, July 03, 2001)

WASHINGTON -- Police dogs will again search for missing Modestan Chandra Levy, but officers will not provide details of their search plans, apparently in an effort to tone down feverish media coverage of the 2-month-old case.

Police indicated Monday they plan to search area landfills, but would not say when and where. "We don't want a million cameras out there distracting the dogs," police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile said.

The Levys also have modified their approach to the media, which have shown a voracious appetite for the missing intern story.

Since May 1, Chandra Levy has been the subject of at least 949 newspaper, magazine and broadcast reports. The Levys are now clearing press requests through their Washington attorney, who is being helped on the case on a volunteer basis by a past spokeswoman for former Vice President Al Gore.

When the Levys do talk to reporters now, they are declining to discuss their daughter's friendship with Rep. Gary Condit, D-Ceres.

Levy was last seen April 30 after her Bureau of Prisons internship ended. Condit's subsequent characterization of Levy as a "great person and a good friend," and her family's sporadic suggestions that they suspected she may have been involved with Condit, have helped fuel the coverage.

Condit has not talked to the press about the matter in the past two months, but through his staff he has denied any romantic relationship with the woman three decades his junior.

As part of their effort to understand Levy's lifestyle and state of mind, Washington police have twice interviewed Condit. The FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit also is preparing a psychological profile of Levy, Executive Assistant Police Chief Terry Gainer told WTOP Radio, a Washington, D.C., station.

Gentile insisted that "we're going to investigate this case like we investigate every other case," and downplayed suggestions that police were modifying their press approach. Other top-ranking officers, though, made clear that ceaseless media demands have been taking a toll.

"We want to scale back the use of everybody's time in dealing with the media," Gainer said. "It seems, of late, we've spent too much time dealing with rumors and all sorts of malarkey."

Department officials also agreed Monday that they would be more selective in responding to media requests for interviews with top officials. More information will be handled by the department's public information office, instead of having the chief or his deputy go before the cameras daily.

Gainer has appeared almost daily on radio and television. He's been quoted in more than half of the stories that have appeared to date about the Levy investigation.

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

Related content