Special Reports

March 25, 2002

Levys say they want daughter back at any cost

(Published: Saturday, July 28, 2001)

Each day, Robert and Susan Levy turn on the television in their Modesto home and listen to various commentators speculate on the fate of their daughter, Chandra Levy.

The 24-year-old was last seen April 30, one week after completing an internship at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C.

Police still consider her disappearance a missing person case. They have all but ruled out suicide, focusing instead on murder or willful disappearance.

Since reporting her missing May 5, the Levys have done everything they can to keep the case in the national spotlight. And her alleged relationship with Rep. Gary Condit, a married 53-year-old Democrat from Ceres, certainly has attracted and held media interest.

"(Authorities) need to bring my daughter home," Susan Levy said. "Anyway we can do it, we'll do it."

But the price has been devastating, said Robert Levy, a physician who specializes in cancer treatment.

"It's been hard to watch," he said, just before leaving for work Friday morning. "We still have hope that the truth will come out."

And they cling to the hope that their daughter is alive, somewhere.

"We just request that if anyone is holding Chandra, to let her go," Robert Levy said. "The reward can be arranged. There won't be any prosecution. If Chandra is out there, she shouldn't be afraid to come home."

"We want her home," Susan Levy added.

The Levys' Friday morning visit with the media was the longest they have had in days.

They thanked friends and well-wishers for their continued support, and said they have had calls from others whose loved ones have disappeared.

Susan Levy declined to comment on published reports that they plan to sue Condit in order to force him to provide information.

"Right now, our heart is breaking," she said.

IMAGE -- Each Friday this month, The Bee randomly has surveyed Gary Condit's 18th Congressional District constituents to get a feel for whether his alleged involvement with Levy is having an impact on his political image.

A week ago, 53 percent of the 100 respondents in the unscientific survey said they believed that Condit still could effectively represent the district. Friday, that number dropped to 48 percent out of 141 respondents.

And 48 percent said they would not support him for re-election -- the same as on July 20. But the percentage of those who would support him for re-election fell from 35 percent a week ago to 29 percent Friday.

Some respondents' comments:

"I think what the media has done has gone into his personal life a little too much. I feel sorry for his family," said Shelley Ward, a 32-year-old Republican from Hickman.

"I think if he'd told the truth upfront, we'd all be a little more forgiving," said Julia Larson, a 35-year-old Republican from Modesto. "Hiding things makes us all uncomfortable."

"I think he should resign," Ramon Magana of Modesto said. "He's brought this upon himself. It reflects poorly on this community."

"Before court, we cannot judge anything," said Jora Vazira, 61 of Modesto.

CONDIT PROFILE -- CNN will profile Condit, interviewing relatives from his native Oklahoma, in a program that will be presented twice this weekend. The program also will include an interview with Condit friend Charles Calderon, a former California state assemblyman. The program will be presented at 8:30 a.m. today and 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

ANOTHER PROTEST -- A Fresno-based group calling itself the Defeat Gary Condit Committee said it will stage a demonstration in front of Condit's downtown Modesto office, on 16th Street near J Street, at noon Wednesday. The purpose of the event is to "to urge members of the House of Representatives to do their United States constitutional duty and expel Mr. Condit from Congress," according to the group's press release. The group said the rally will be followed by a town hall meeting at a site yet to be determined, with each speaker being allowed "two minutes of grievance against Mr. Condit," according to a press release. The testimony will be sent to the House ethics committee.

Bee staff writer Jeff Jardine can be reached at 578-2383 or jjardine@modbee.com.

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