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Chapter 12. The Newport

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:55 am    Post subject: Chapter 12. The Newport Reply with quote

available from Amazon.com:

Murder On A Horse Trail: The Disappearance of Chandra Levy
by Ralph Daugherty
ISBN: 0-595-31847-9

Murder on a Horse Trail: The Disappearance of Chandra Levy also available free to read online here on www.justiceforchandra.com

Chandra's Apartment:

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Newport

With Condit's office calling about a missing constituent, Washington police responded by sending officers again to check Chandra's apartment at the Newport, including Detective Ralph Durant of the district's Metropolitan Police Department. The San Francisco Chronicle quoted him:

We just know she disappeared. We don't know how and
we don't know when. We just know she is gone and
we're investigating.

Her bags were packed as if she were getting ready to
leave. But she left everything. . . . We found all
her identification, all the things someone would
take with them leaving the house. It was all still
there. [1]

Unfortunately, "bags packed as if getting ready to leave" would leave a lasting erroneous and misleading understanding for everyone. The San Francisco Chronicle described her bags as "neatly packed". The New York Daily News described her bags as "neatly packed by the door". The Modesto Bee described luggage "packed and waiting inside". The Washington Post described luggage "packed as if for travel". Dateline said the bags were "packed and ready to go". The Associated Press went so far as to say her bags were "packed for her return to the West Coast".

Even Chandra's mother, as she told the Today show, was led to understand it this way:

Ms. LEVY: Well, we all have, you know, as she was
going to go home, everything was packed, her
jewelry, everything that belongs to her, jewelry,
necklaces, ID cards, travel bags, and her lapcop--
top computer, everything was in order. And it looked
like she was coming home on the airplane or, you
know, ready to leave. [2]

This wasn't even close to being correct. With such a fundamental failure of the D.C. police to ascertain the condition of Chandra's apartment and belongings and communicate it to her family and the press, what chance was there that a coherent investigation into her disappearance would be initiated, or of her family to be able to provide information helpful in finding her, or of the press to provide information that would enable the public to be helpful? None, it would turn out. Tragically, this was just a harbinger of things to come.

Perhaps perception was reality for the D.C. police. The Washington Post reports that a police source told them that they initially believed that Chandra may have left the area for a few days "just to get away". Metropolitan Police Cmdr. Peter Newsham is quoted by the Washington Times as saying:

This is an adult we are talking about. She is a very
intelligent woman, and she would have the
capabilities and the wherewithal to disappear if she
wanted to. That is just as likely as if she came
upon something tragic or terrible. [3]

There were also lesser degrees of walking out envisioned by the police. Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman, told the Washington Post, "She may have run out to run a last-minute errand when she went missing." But the perception of someone ready to leave and, oops, don't need those bags to remind me of my past remained perilously close to the forefront due to the bags neatly packed by the door attribution of her disappearance.

What would someone a bit more observant find if they had entered Chandra's apartment? Here is a description of the apartment by the landlord as reported by the Washington Post:

She left behind a half-packed apartment in Dupont
Circle. There was a suitcase almost completely
packed, a few outfits hanging in the closet, a purse
with credit cards, ID, a cell phone and $30 in the
entryway. Her toiletries and makeup were in the
bathroom, some food remained in the refrigerator, a
few dirty dishes were left behind and a comforter
was left in the small entryway, said the landlord,
who spoke on condition of anonymity. [4]

Her laptop was left open in the hallway nook of the
tidy, whitewashed studio she rented, her landlord
said. Her laptop computer was open on a makeshift
desk. There were dishes in the sink and leftover
pasta in the refrigerator. Several outfits hung in
the closet. Her suitcase was half-packed, not far
from her purse, which contained her credit cards,
cell phone and money. Missing were her keys and a
check for $54 -- a birthday gift, never cashed.

Bob Franken of CNN describes further:

The landlord and building manager have said that
their first entries into the apartment found a
duffel bag type of luggage near the bed still untied
and not completely filled as well as the canceled
paperwork from her sports club contract and a laptop
computer in a small, open alcove -- a former broom
closet converted with a desk surface and higher
shelving. They also said there was the activated
answering machine, with messages, and an unpacked
bathroom set, including towels, toiletries and
cosmetics that were not yet packed. Nothing was
disheveled, according to these two eyewitnesses.

WUSA accompanied Levy's own investigators into the apartment and wrote:

But we now know how things looked when police first
set foot in Chandra Levy's apartment.

No signs of a struggle, no signs of foul play and no
signs of Chandra Levy.

In the hallway, a cell phone and cash were found
on a glass counter.

A hand bag left hanging from a cabinet door.

Next to her bed was a large suitcase. Unzipped and
full of clothes.

In the kitchen there was very little in the cabinets
and refrigerator. [7]

Michael Doyle of the Modesto Bee reports how Levy's private investigators, Dwayne Stanton and Joseph McCann, "peered inside the closet-turned-desk space, where Levy tapped out late-night e-mail messages on her lap-top computer, and they scanned the platform bed stuffed snugly in an alcove".

Detective Durant was quoted by Associated Press, "We found all her identification in there -- driver's license, credit cards, check book, jewelry, cell phone -- anything that a normal person would take out with them when they go out the street".

Chandra's diary was also found by police in her apartment, and the picture taken of her with Condit and Jennifer Baker in their first visit to his office was on display. The landlord turned over to police an April receipt from Trader Joe's in Bethesda and a page of local synagogues torn out of the phone book. Newsweek also reported her ATM card and two pairs of sneakers were in her apartment.

There is also this curious report by Michael Isikoff in the Newsweek article: "She also had downloaded discount ice-cream coupons that were found in her apartment...." This implies that Chandra had a printer with her laptop, but this is the only item ever mentioned that would indicate that.

That is what was found, but Helen Kennedy of the New York Daily News describes well what was missing:

Missing were Levy's size 4 gold signet ring, set
with two diamond chips and her intertwined initials
- a $416 custom-designed gift from her mother - her
apartment key and a thin gold bracelet.

Levy's aunt Linda Zamsky said her niece proudly
showed off the congressman's gift at Passover in
April 2001. Zamsky described it as a "chain
bracelet, a very nice piece of jewelry, double
clasp. [8]
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In addition to her new bracelet from Condit and her cherished signet ring from her mother inscribed with an intertwined 'CL', the police say her keys were missing, but intriguingly, her father says she left behind her regular key chain with pepper spray. [9] Bob Levy had always urged Chandra to carry pepper spray on her key chain, and she did. But not when she disappeared.

Chandra was a very security conscious woman. Her friend Lisa Bracken from Modesto told the Washington Post: "She was always bugging me to buy pepper spray." She added to CNN: "She always carried Mace and was very aware of her surroundings."

Jeff Jardine of the Modesto Bee writes of how security conscious her landlord thought she was:

Her landlord in Washington, a Bay Area resident and
former staff worker for a California congressman,
recalled stopping by once to pick up something that
he had left in the apartment.

He knocked. She asked who was at the door before she
opened it a crack. She then closed the door, while
the landlord remained in the hallway. She retrieved
the item, opened the door and carefully turned it
over. [10]

Julie Danielson, Chandra's former guidance counselor at Davis High School in Modesto, recalled to CNN:

Chandra took part in the Explorer Program, which was
connected with the police academy.

"She was trained in things a person would be trained
if they were entering the police academy, so she was
street smart, definitely street smart." [11]

Chandra didn't appear to have taken anything more than keys to get back in her apartment. Had she been abducted in her own apartment building, perhaps on her way to do laundry or take out the trash? Chandra lived in apartment 315 of the Newport at 1260 21st St. NW, near Dupont Circle, on the third floor of a ten story building with a 24-hour guard. Residents must be buzzed in the front door by the front desk, and there was a state-of-the-art security system with cameras recording to videotapes.

Laura Lang as resident essayist describes the Newport in the Washington City Paper:

Had Levy's parents not notified authorities of
Chandra's disappearance, few in the Newport might
have realized she was missing.

Residents and building employees say they didn't see
her around much anyway. The Newport-like many large
buildings in D.C.-is a place where it's easy to keep
to yourself. Made up of 156 condos, the 10-floor
building is home to about 200 people, more than half
of whom rent their apartments. Age and ethnicity
vary, but to judge from my own morning and evening
trips in and out of the building, there's a heavy
proportion of young, working singles-men and women
in their 20s and 30s who work or go to school and
have busy lives.

A condo association meets regularly in the office of
the building manager, located on the top floor.
There are few other communal activities, even fewer
rooms in which to hold them. A pool sits on the roof
of the building, where some take quick dips after
work or lounge on the weekend. And there's a lobby
on the main floor, right next to a check-in desk
staffed 24 hours a day, but most people just pass

Not even laundry is the social activity that it is
in many buildings. The Newport has small laundry
rooms located on each floor, rather than one big
one-which limits interaction significantly. The
building is staffed by friendly, efficient people
who often strike up conversations with residents,
but it's the sort of place where you could disappear
if you wanted to-and maybe even if you didn't want
to-and escape notice. [12]

Edeline describes the Newport facilities as well in his online interview:

"The front door is operated by the desk person.
Tenants do not have keys or cards to the front door.
They must be 'buzzed' in by the desk person. There
is a back door to the building, anyone can walk out
the door, but they must have a key to get back in.
Once out the glass back door, you are in a gated
patio area and you must have a key to get in and out
of the back gate. Otherwise, one would have to climb
over the back fence."

Asked about what would happen if the desk person
took a break, Edeline said, "there was no
break...just bathroom break...but that is a very
good question...they had to wait outside the
door...or until someone went out....they'd walk
in....it was annoying at times....

"Your back door question....there are actually two
different sets of stairways to get to the condo
(plus the elevators). One of the stairways exits in
the mailbox area...which is next to the back door.
So...yes, you would not pass the desk person to go
to the back door if you were descending the steps.
However, I really don't think that anything happened
to Chandra in the building. But that is my opinion."

"There is a laundryroom on every floor in the
Newport. No key is needed. It is very small...just
room for a washer and a dryer....and a space for you
to stand...it is just down the hall from the
condo....one apartment away."

Asked if there was a garbage chute: "Garbage chute:
very small room next to laundry room...very small
chute...you can't have a big sack...and believe
me....it would be impossible to get a body down that
chute....can hardly get a big bag of garbage down
it...in my opinion." [13]

The trash chute was across the hallway from her apartment, and the laundry room one apartment away. If she had gone out to do laundry or take out the trash, she hadn't gone far.

The mystery of Chandra's disappearance was baffling, but theories would be springing forth, disappointing ones from the police that Chandra just wanted to get away from it all, wild ones on the internet, and wilder still from the tabloids. National Enquirer posed theirs in "Chandra Mystery Solved", and in my analysis of their article I touch upon points found in other theories floated on the internet.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Walk in the Park

While it has been pointed out that Condit's apartment is halfway to Klingle Mansion from the Newport, and that it is possible that she was to meet Condit there and then go on to Klingle Mansion, NE has her making the two mile walk directly there. They show pictures of the route, and it has two bridge crossings, one a pedestrian bridge but within the shadows of a railroad trestle, then onto narrower and narrower trails till Klingle Mansion is reached.

I didn't find that prospect realistic at all. It's possible, but the trip couldn't be for romantic purposes, she'd end up way too sweaty. If it was something short and sweet, like picking up a frequent fliers airline ticket, and Condit told her Carolyn was home and they had to meet elsewhere, I can see it, and can see that she might enjoy the walk there and back given that she had the time since she had not been working for a week. But it's a stretch, and the meeting time would have to be mid-afternoon to have time to get there leaving after 1 p.m., and then back at a safe time. To be picked up shortly after 1 p.m. to go there is one thing, to walk there to meet somebody at a place you have to look up on a map just doesn't make sense.

Klingle Mansion

NE describes Klingle Mansion as a storage facility. Instead, it is the Rock Creek Park administration office. It appears NE deliberately downplayed the nature of the building to make it seem spookier, for example, saying that anyone stopping there to get supplies would be gone by 4 p.m., instead of bringing into the story the complexity that the Klingle Mansion is the park office and is closed on Monday's and Tuesday's. This was a Tuesday afternoon. There was no one to get supplies that afternoon at any time, so NE even screwed that up.

The Comforter

Consider this little gem of logic. According to NE, the comforter was found tossed in a heap inside Chandra's front door. Unbelievably, they say it indicates to investigators that Chandra couldn't have left after signing off on the internet, that she washed and dried the comforter in a laundry room a few feet down the hall first and left later in the afternoon. Could anyone be so stupid as to think a person can't wash and dry a comforter while they're on the computer all morning? That they have to sign off the internet before they can put a comforter in a washer down the hall? I am not making this up. They point out the laundry room is a few feet down the hall, and that the comforter tossed in the doorway proves she washed and dried it after signing off the internet at 1 p.m. With logic like that, and what we've seen from the DC police, it's no wonder this crime is unsolved.


NE points out that the Baskin Robbins ice cream store is 30 feet from the park entrance off the street she would walk from her apartment, Connecticut Ave., and that she also looked it up as well as Klingle Mansion. They suggest she bought a pint of ice cream to take to Klingle Mansion while she waited, and to share with who she was meeting. They do not explicitly suggest that Condit is the one she met there, but otherwise NE refers to him throughout the article and implies it.

I suggest the NE geniuses who came up with this buy a pint of ice cream on an 82 degree day and see how far they get through the park to Klingle Mansion before it melts. On the other hand, Baskin-Robbins is near the intersection of Calvert and Connecticut, and Condit lives near the intersection of Calvert. Baskin-Robbins is a short walk from his apartment down Calvert.

The Web Sites

NE reports that Chandra looked at four media sites that had articles about President Bush's luncheon with members of Congress, and that all the articles she looked at noted that Condit had a seat of honor at the President's table. This suggests that some of the sites she looked at were based on a search for Condit.

NE then goes on to talk about a web site that a DC police insider told them that Chandra visited, a site about breast implant and reduction surgery. They report the police insider said she downloaded dozens of pictures of breasts of different sizes, and that the police didn't know what it meant. It concludes that some investigators believe Chandra didn't think her breasts were nice enough for Condit, and that she was considering breast implant surgery to make him happy.

First, if she did visit that site, then it's apparent that it's one of the "evidentiary" sites the police didn't list, and possibly the reason they didn't list it was that it was too prurient for them to discuss in newspapers. In reality, it could have been significant in helping determine her state of mind, or it could be a totally baseless rumor NE printed. This is the pain of dealing with leaked police information through biased journalists or worse. Still, it's possible this information is from the DC police.

Second, leave it to NE to say that Chandra found out Condit was a breast man and that they made it breast implant surgery rather than breast reduction surgery, much more lurid to get implants to make him happy versus getting breast reduction surgery to make her more mobile for the strenuous physical training of her chosen career as an FBI agent. Further, Flammini reports that Condit was bragging about her breasts, like melons he said, which suggests that he wasn't complaining to her. As for using that or any other excuse or imagined excuse for breaking up with her in the two weeks after she asked him about Jennifer Thomas before she disappeared, anything is possible, but it's hard to imagine how she would take it seriously. There's just no justification for this at all.

The Sanitized Apartment

In a continuation of unexcelled logic, NE writes that since Chandra's apartment had nothing that linked her to the killer, no newspaper clippings, no pictures, notes, love letters, nothing, this has led investigators to believe the killer used Chandra's keys to return to her apartment and remove any evidence.

The killer didn't remove her diary. He didn't remove her laptop computer or clear it of a trail of web surfing. He didn't remove the picture on her desk of her and Condit and Jennifer Baker. What did the killer sanitize? National Enquirer assumes there were other momentos that must have been removed, and that the killer returned and completed the non-traceable disappearance. A mystery solved, uninhibited by logic.

The killer also didn't remove the Newport security videotapes, but neither did the D.C. police. A 911 call on Tuesday, frantic parents and landlord pleading with the Newport manager to check Chandra's apartment, Dr. Levy begging the police to check Chandra's apartment, a congressman's office asking them to check on Chandra's apartment, none of this was enough for the Newport manager to pull the videotapes and make them available to the police or for the police to even ask for them.

They recycled every 10 days, and pulling the tapes when the police deigned to actually look at Chandra's apartment - a call from a congressman's office cuts it, missing person reports from California doesn't cut it for D.C. police apparently - would have still had on them whatever was recorded on May 1, from those early morning hours of a scream and a 911 call to afternoon when Chandra logged off the internet.

But they weren't pulled; privacy law paralysis? police incompetence? management more concerned about a lawsuit than a missing resident? conspiracy? coverup? just a refusal to take a missing woman seriously?

All have been conjectured. All are egregious. The police made the best of their failure to investigate though. They came and retrieved the tapes more than a week later, after they had finally started taking Chandra's disappearance more seriously, a disturbing pattern that would continue for months to come.

The tapes overwritten by then? No problem. Police found nothing useful in the "grainy tapes" of the surveillance cameras anyway. [14] Chief Charles Ramsey of the D.C. police told ABC This Week:

There is a video system there. The tape quality is
very, very poor. They do tape over the different
tapes during the day.

It was a week before we even knew about the missing
person, so unfortunately some of the evidence that
we would have had, had we known sooner, we won't
have available to us. [15]

The security tapes of the Newport are probably the biggest loss due to police inaction. How could the Newport management have let their surveillance tapes be overwritten when a tenant was reported to them as missing, a 911 call made from the Newport, a missing person report filed, and the police came and looked at the apartment? How could the police not retrieve the tapes as part of their investigation.

What investigation, you might ask. Good question.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Next chapter - Investigation

Murder on a Horse Trail - Table of Contents

The Newport
1. Zamora, Jim Herron. “Modesto woman is missing in Washington, D.C.:
Police begin bicoastal search for grad student.” San Francisco Chronicle 13 May

2. Levy, Susan. Interview with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. Today. NBC. 17
May 2001. Transcript.

3. Keary, Jim. “Missing intern’s trail quickly growing cold.” Washington Times
24 May 2001.

4. Dvorak, Petula and Allan Lengel. “Second Condit Interview Sheds Little
Light.” Washington Post 25 June 2001.

5. St. George, Donna, Allan Lengel and Petula Dvorak. “DC Intern Lived On
Edge of Secrecy.” Washington Post 8 July 2001.

6. Franken, Bob. “Bob Franken on the Levy disappearance probe.” CNN. 16 Jul.
2001. Transcript.

7. “D.C. Police To Interview Members Of Condit’s Family.” WUSA 26 June

8. Kennedy, Helen. “Condit Lawyer: Lie Test OK: If FBI asks, congressman
should do it, he’s advised.” New York Daily News 30 May 2002.

9. Levy, Robert and Susan and Billy Martin. Interview with Larry King. Larry
King Live. CNN. 30 Apr. 2002. Transcript.

10. Jardine, Jeff and Michael Doyle. “Chandra Levy: A Closer Look.” Modesto
Bee 1 July 2001.

11. “Parents: Chandra never made return plane reservation.” CNN 14 July 2001.

12. Lang, Laura. “THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.” Washington City Paper 20 July

13. “Where In The World Is Chandra Levy” at
under “Q & A session with Denis Edeline.”, 3 Aug. 2001.

14. Dvorak, Petula and Allan Lengel. “Second Condit Interview Sheds Little
Light.” Washington Post 25 June 2001.

15. “D.C. police chief says video was useless in Levy case.” Courttv.com 25 June

“California woman missing in Washington, D.C.” Associated Press 10 May

“CHANDRA MYSTERY SOLVED.” National Enquirer. 9 April 2002.
Coles, Joanna. “Have you seen this woman?” London Times U.K. 28 May 2001.

“Condit Has an Alibi.” Newsweek. 20 July 2001.

Douthat, Ross. “Condit Watch.” National Review 9 Aug. 2001.

Doyle, Michael. “P.M. Update: Missing Modesto woman’s parents meet with
police.” Modesto Bee 17 May 2001.

Doyle, Michael. “Private dicks search toss intern’s apartment.” Scripps-McClatchy
Western Service 27 June 2001.

Fahrenthold, David A. and Arthur Santana. “Lots of Attention but Little News
As Search for Intern Continues.” Washington Post 18 May 2001.

Kennedy, Helen “D.C. Cops Mystified As Intern Vanishes.” New York Daily
News 16 May 2001.

Leiby, Richard and Petula Dvorak. “The Wait of Their Lives.” Washington Post
26 Aug. 2001.

Levy, Robert and Susan. Interview with Larry King. Larry King Live. CNN. 15
Aug. 2001. Transcript.

Murray, Frank J. “Who is Chandra Levy?” Washington Times 29 July 2001.

O’Donnell, Norah and Stone Phillips. “Vanished: Investigation Continues Into
Disappearance of Washington Intern Chandra Levy.” Dateline. NBC. 28 May
2001. Transcript.

Santana, Arthur and Cheryl W. Thompson. “Street Crimes Probed in Intern’s
Case.” Washington Post 19 May 2001.

Sbranti, J.N. “Search is on for woman from valley.” Modesto Bee 11 May 2001.

Serrano, Richard A. and Robert L. Jackson. “D.C. Puzzles Over Missing USC
Student.” Los Angeles Times 19 May 2001.

Yost, Pete. “Police to Search Missing Woman’s Apt.” Associated Press 18 May
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