Chandra Levy’s mother isn’t rock-solid sure who killed the vivacious intern from Modesto 16 years ago in Washington, D.C. But Susan Levy is satisfied that Salvadoran native Ingmar Guandique, whose murder conviction was overturned a couple of years ago, has been deported.
“Yes, he should go back,” said Susan Levy while preparing for a three-week art show opening next week in Modesto that was inspired by her daughter’s death. “I’m glad he’s not walking the streets of America attempting to hurt other women.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said that Guandique, 35, was flown Friday to El Salvador and transferred to authorities there. He was already in prison for attacks on other women in Rock Creek Park in the nation’s capital when he was charged in 2009 for the murder of Chandra Levy, whose remains were found in the same park.
Her 2001 disappearance became a national obsession when she was romantically linked to former congressman Gary Condit, whose political career ended soon after. Police in Washington at one point considered Condit a suspect, but later said they had cleared him. He broke 15 years of silence in October with a book that accuses Guandique while blaming Condit’s stunning fall from grace on bumbling investigators and a media frenzy.
A jury convicted Guandique of the slaying in 2010, but his conviction was overturned after a jailhouse informant’s testimony came under scrutiny.
Officials said Guandique has been in ICE custody since June. The news release issued Monday described Guandique as “a documented MS-13 gang member” – an ICE video of his deportation shows the letters MS tattooed on the back of Guandique’s hand. President Donald Trump has frequently offered the MS-13 street gang as a rationale for his efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.
At trial, another inmate, Armando Morales, testified that Guandique confessed that he had killed Levy. But evidence emerged casting doubt on the truthfulness of Morales’ testimony. A judge in 2015 granted Guandique a new trial, and in 2016, prosecutors announced that they would no longer seek to retry Guandique, clearing the way for his deportation.
Susan Levy on Monday delivered various art pieces to Modesto Junior College in advance of a free public showing, “A Mother’s Tears,” which opens May 15 at Modesto Junior College. She was mulling calling reporters about the show, she said, when they began calling her – about Guandique’s one-way trip to his homeland.
Although Susan Levy said, “I’m glad to see him deported,” and her husband, Bob, is sure that Guandique is guilty, Susan remains troubled that evidence was too shaky to try him a second time.
“As we get older, things change,” she said. “We’re all going to the same place – where Chandra is. But you want to know that (the guilty) person is brought to justice, or there is no justice.”
A year ago, a studio in Maryland near the nation’s capital put on display 11 works of art that Susan Levy conceived in the year following her daughter’s disappearance. She said creating watercolors and collages – many featuring tears – was a cathartic exercise.
“I said, ‘If I did it in Maryland, I should do it here’ ” in Modesto, Levy said, leading to the upcoming show titled “A Mother’s Tears.”
The show opens Monday and runs through June 1 in the MJC Art Gallery on the school’s East Campus, 435 College Ave., Modesto. The gallery is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Susan Levy will speak at a free public reception in the gallery at 6 p.m. May 18, when extended hours will keep it open 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Levy has formal training, including a Bachelor’s degree in arts from Ohio State University. She refers to herself as “a process artist, not a product-oriented artist.”
“This is not pretty flowers,” Levy said Monday. “It’s about poignant, emotional stuff that makes you think.”
The timing of the show, coming on the heels of Guandique’s deportation, is “kind of strange,” Levy said. Preparations “keep me thinking and busy, but at the same time, I’m confronting a lot of scary stuff.
“In my heart, the memories are as fresh as ever,” she continued. “The grief is always there, but in different forms. I felt it was right to do (the show) at this time.”
Susan Levy may spend the rest of her life wondering if her daughter’s killer flew on that plane last week to Central America.
“Even if I found out,” she said, “it isn’t going to bring Chandra back.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.