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Chapter 8. The Scream

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:58 am    Post subject: Chapter 8. The Scream 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
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Scream

Chandra had had no qualms about calling Condit's message line on her cellular. When her parents later looked at her phone bill they saw that she called his message line repeatedly. Newsweek's analysis of the calls, though, shows that while she made several calls to his message line they tapered off after April 13. Yet on Sunday and Monday, April 29 and April 30, Chandra was still calling her own answering machine repeatedly checking for messages, according to Fox News which also looked at the phone bill. The New York Post's analysis shows her calling eight or nine times on Monday alone.

Even after the call to her aunt Sunday evening saying she had big news she was still constantly checking for messages on Monday. But she had long stopped calling Condit on her cell phone. Who was she expecting a message from, and where did she get big news to share with her aunt?

One might suspect that she possibly didn't know Sven was out of town and that she was checking for a return call from her invitation on Saturday evening to talk with her over lunch, except for some interesting information from Condit. Frank Murray of the Washington Times reports that Condit told the police he broke off their close friendship on Saturday. This was the day that Carolyn was to arrive in town and Chandra left a plaintive message for Sven, asking to meet in Georgetown for lunch. Rita Cosby of Fox News disclosed it this way:

When Condit delicately broke things off with Levy
with the explanation that she was moving back to
California, she was distraught, refusing to take no
for an answer and even becoming obsessed with him,
the sources said.

Levy called Condit several times on a special line
in the 24 hours before she vanished, but he never
returned those calls, the sources said. [1]

The Washington Times quoted a Condit lawyer saying that she harassed Condit by phone, calling his pager twenty times Sunday and Monday, and portrayed her as "extremely disappointed and distraught, refusing to take no for an answer". According to the Washington Post, his San Francisco lawyer, Joe Cotchett, said on the CBS Early Show that she called Condit four or five times as she was preparing to leave for California:

Let's assume she was calling him to say goodbye,
which we suspect was the case. You understand she
was returning to California. Also . . . the
congressman has come forward and said they were good
friends, as he is with many interns. [2]

As Joshua Micah Marshall writes of these phone calls in Salon:

The mystery surrounding what, if any, communication
took place between Levy and Condit in the final days
before her disappearance is riddled with confusion
and contradiction.... A flurry of calls Chandra made
to her own answering machine is certainly a far cry
from calls to Condit's special line. But they do
suggest, possibly, a more complicated chain of
events... [3]

Amidst this portrayal by Condit to the police and public of Chandra as a distraught intern who was so obsessed with him he had to refuse to return her calls, her parents were somewhat distraught themselves. NBC News reports that Susan Levy tried to tell the police and public "As far as I know ... her last phone calls seem to come from Condit". And indeed, after months of Chandra the obsessed, dangerously distraught young woman, Condit suddenly remembered it all differently. There was a phone call Sunday after all, certainly forgettable by the sound of it. Condit describes it to the Merced Sun-Star:

Condit: I talked to her one time after that on the
29th of April for just approximately a minute on the
phone. She called me and I called her back.

Sun-Star: Was she in Washington at the time?

Condit: Yes. She hadn't left yet. Actually I thought
she was calling me to tell me her travel plans.

Sun-Star: Then her call was to tell you ...

Condit: Well, it was, she was, really, it was pretty
uneventful call. She called me and said call me
back. I called her and I said are you ready, you got
your train reservations? You got your, what are you
doing. She said I haven't made any of those as soon
as I find out I'll let you know. That was basically
it. It was just pretty uneventful. [4]

Chandra had quit calling Condit on her cell phone, but he recalls returning her call on Sunday to ask her if she had bought her train ticket. Where did she call him from, and why after calling him from some other phone did she start checking for his message with her cell phone? Had she been instructed not to leave a trace of contact with him by calling him from an untraceable local line? More importantly, after four months of portraying Chandra in such a way that the police assumed she was a suicidal runaway, was she instead actually dear to Condit's heart? Condit rehabilitates her to Newsweek:

Newsweek: Did you have plans to see her again after

Condit: After what?

Newsweek: After that visit on the 24th?

Condit: Oh, you mean before she left?

Newsweek: Before she left or when she was out in

Condit: Oh, yeah, we never - there was never a
thought that we weren’t going to stay in contact or
see each other. One way or another. That was a
friendship. We were going to maintain the friendship
no matter - it was a friendship. [5]

There had never been a basis for her being distraught on Sunday and Monday. She had sounded odd on Saturday in her message left for Sven. She sounded accepting and ready to move on in her message to her landlord that weekend. "There's no reason for me to hang around here any longer", she said. "Can I move out next weekend?"

By later Sunday she was upbeat in a message for Linda. Her message Sunday evening was big news. "Call me", she said. What had changed? Whatever was up in the air was about to become derailed.

Even without a car, Chandra got around widely in the D.C. area by Metro to shop. Among receipts she had in her apartment were receipts from a Trader Joe's a half mile down Wisconsin Ave. from the Metro station in Bethesda, and one from a Pendleton clothing shop in Alexandria's Old Town. Whether she was shopping for going home or not is unclear, but she was starting to end her affairs in Washington by cancelling her health club membership Monday evening, the last day of the month. The manager of the Washington Sports Club gym on Connecticut Avenue NW, Errol Thompson, said she came in about 7:30 p.m. to cancel her membership.

Jackie Judd of ABC News obtained an interview with the gym manager who had this critical last encounter with Chandra. ABC reports:

[He] says he even joked with Levy when she came in
at about 7:30 p.m. ET on April 30 - because she had
almost canceled her membership in January.

"I said, 'Are you sure this time?' he told ABCNEWS.
"And we joked. And she said, 'Yeah, I'm definitely
going home.'"

The source said Levy canceled her membership, then
worked out and left the facility.

The source said he told Levy that since she did not
give 30 days' notice of her cancellation, she would
have to pay for another month. He then helped her
look for a Modesto gym with a reciprocal membership
plan - so she could work out near her home during
that period.

"I said go to this club for the next 30 days," the
source told ABCNEWS. "You've got a free membership
there through us. And she Xeroxed it. She said,
'I'll go there.'"

The source said he was confident Levy believed she
was going home to California.

"She was looking forward to going home. She was
excited about it," the source said. "You could see
it in her face, it was very clear."

In fact, they spoke for 30 minutes about which gym
she could use in Modesto, he said.

"I know that she was going back home," he said,
"Unless she was that well-rehearsed, that she had
planned it, and I don't think so."

He said Levys mood "without question" had not
changed from the time he met her, in October, until
her disappearance.

"She was her normal, jubilant self," he said. "You
know, 'healthy body, healthy mind,' is just what she
was." [6]

The LA Times reports that the police say that she was there about an hour and left about 8:30 p.m.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reason she had mentioned cancelling her membership in January was because she had asked her landlord about breaking her lease to move in with her boyfriend. There would be health clubs in the Adams Morgan area closer than this one on Dupont Circle if she had moved. She hadn't moved and hadn't cancelled her membership, so the manager jokingly asked if she was sure this time.

There was some controversy on the internet Chandra sites about whether there was a reciprocal health club facility in the Modesto area where she would have free membership as Errol Thompson told her, or even whether she was actually at the gym.

It's an unfortunate side effect of the confluence of the press and the internet that literally every person named in a high profile crime case is deemed a liar and worse by anonymous posters on the internet, some quite rabid, most just suspicious. This despite the named people pouring their heart out to the police and public for their friend or colleague to help and being asked to take a lie detector test for their trouble.

Then after they have answered every question one could reasonably or even unreasonably think of, they continue to be hounded by reporters or what passes as reporters for tabloids until they are chased into hiding. This only completes the vicious cycle where they are then accused of having something to hide because they tire of journalists and cameramen jumping out of bushes and scaring them half to death, even as they often receive real death threats from anonymous people who may or may not have already been involved in an actual murder.

They usually try to stay anonymous but the press flushes them out, then in the name of objective reporting sometimes inadvertantly manage to attempt to destroy them to boot. This does not lend itself to encouraging people to step forward, which is helpful to the public in understanding what has happened to an innocent person that the public wants to understand rather than wait years for a trial to see if the police found anything out about it.

The press is great about getting the story, but that competition to get something no one else knows drives it to ask the same questions over and over in the hope that someone who has already answered fully with reasonable information will somehow say something different that generates a headline. That drive should be limited to people who have not already answered the questions ad nauseum of legions of headline seeking journalists. At least it is hoped journalists are more discerning about what constitutes a truthful dialogue than anonymous internet posters.

As far as Chandra being there, there was membership cancellation paperwork done at the club, a presumed credit card transaction to pay for her thirty day notice, possibly the Xeroxed list of participating reciprocal clubs in California with the nearest one to her circled as described by the gym manager, and the cancellation receipt found in her apartment. Although no one else has been named by police as having seen her at the gym Monday night, the police interviewed many club members and it certainly would have been an issue worth commenting upon had no one but the manager seen her during the hour he said she was there Monday night.

The question of what club would have been circled by Errol Thompson for Chandra was answered by a phone call to the Washington Sports Club from www.justiceforchandra.com internet poster propria. She posts:

i have just spoken with jeff at chandra's health
club, and he tells me that members have reciprocity
in the form of discounts that apply at midtown
athletic club in sacramento, as well as at '24-hour
fitness' clubs all over california ... perhaps the
xerox copy was a listing of those clubs, with the
ones closest to her circled. [7]

The 24 Hour Fitness Center in Manteca 17 miles away would qualify as near Modesto, although she might not choose to continue making that trip to work out after her month notice ran out. It would be puzzling if the closest reciprocating gym was the Midtown Athletic Club in Sacramento, but with the 24 Hour Fitness Centers on the list, Manteca would be circled as the club near Modesto. There seems to have been only a reciprocating discount agreement between the chains which perhaps included a free thirty day trial membership as the gym manager told her, "a free membership there through us", or perhaps he overstated it or was mistaken. She had to pay anyway and this was at least a gesture from the Washington Sports Club.

It was 8:30 p.m. Monday evening, April 30. Did Chandra make it home from the gym that evening? Excepting a deception of professional caliber, the gym cancellation paperwork found in her apartment indicates she made it home. The Washington Sports Club on Connecticut Ave. NW was about five blocks from her apartment in the Newport on 21st St. NW. The area was hardly crime free, but Connecticut Ave. is a heavily populated pedestrian thoroughfare where many people do not have cars and walk about the neighborhood. Bill O'Reilly talking to the Levy's lawyer Billy Martin had this conversation on the O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: ...You know, I walk the neighborhood where
Ms. Levy lived. I walked that neighborhood. I went
through it. That's not a menacing neighborhood.

MARTIN: It's not.

O'REILLY: And that's a neighborhood if somebody
grabbed you, you scream, 18 people would hear you.

MARTIN: That's not a dangerous neighborhood. I used
to have a law firm located right near Dupont Circle.
I would walk out of my office at midnight to go get
a snack or get coffee. There are people on the
streets all the time. That's not an unsafe
neighborhood, Bill. [8]

On the other hand, eight robberies, two at gunpoint, had taken place in the previous four months in the block of 21st where the Newport is located. A robbery every couple of weeks in the block outside your apartment building isn't exactly Better Homes and Gardens, but only one of the robberies, back in January, was cited by the police as an example of a violent crime in her block. A robber forced a woman to the ground and stole her purse before jumping in a getaway car with a driver. One other successful robbery of a purse at gunpoint was cited by the police as taking place the previous month a couple of blocks away.

Of more serious concern, a murder with similar circumstances took place not far from where Chandra lived. Isikoff describes what one would hope is an isolated event in Newsweek:

Just last month prosecutors tried four men for
grabbing Vidalina Semino, a 54-year-old hotel
waitress, off the street as she walked to her car
not far from Chandra's neighborhood. According to
police, the men forced Semino into the trunk of
their car and then, after stealing her ATM card,
shot her and dumped her body in the woods several
miles away. [9]

This unfortunate kidnapping, robbery, and murder of Ms. Semino took place a year earlier. The Department Of Justice press release of the conviction of the men describes the crime:

The evidence at the trials indicated that, on May 5,
2000, Downing and his three co-defendants traveled
by Metro from Southeast D.C. to the Woodley Park
area for the purpose of breaking into a residence
there and robbing them at gunpoint. Once in the
area, however, they changed their plan and decided
to rob someone on the street. Ms. Semino, a 54-year-
old immigrant from Peru who worked as a waitress at
the Omni-Shoreham Hotel, was walking to her car when
she got off work near midnight. The four targeted
her, eventually taking her car and putting her in
the trunk. After driving throughout the metropolitan
area for over ninety minutes, they drove the car to
an isolated wooded area near 22nd and T Streets,
S.E. They then marched Ms. Semino into the woods
where a co-defendant, Robert Moody, shot her twice
and killed her. The four fled the area on foot.
Downing then used Ms. Semino's bank card twice
within the next hour both in D.C. and Oxon Hill,
Maryland where he lived. A third co-defendant's
(Leon Butler) use of Ms. Semino's VISA credit card
led the police to him in November, 2000 when all
four were arrested. [10]
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Omni-Shoreham Hotel is at Calvert and Connecticut Ave., familiar territory to Chandra as it is only a couple of blocks from Condit's Adams Morgan condo and on the way to his apartment up Connecticut from the Newport. Chandra's own murder would be in eeriely similar circumstances. How eerie, and how similar, remain to be seen.

So Chandra brought her gym cancellation paperwork home Monday evening, but in the stillness of Tuesday morning, at 4:37 a.m., a scream for help was heard by a Newport resident and 911 called. A D.C. police officer was dispatched but nothing was found. Chief Ramsey of the D.C. police describes the 911 call to Bob Schieffer and Gloria Borger of CBS Face The Nation:

BORGER: You have her computer. You have her cell
phone records.

We`ve all heard that there was a lot of activity on
her computer that morning of her disappearance,
sometime between 9:30 and 1:00, that she visited a
lot of travel web sites. What can you tell us about
that? Did she book a flight somewhere?

RAMSEY: No, we don`t have anything that shows that
she booked a flight. And we`ve checked flights,
we`ve checked rail, we`ve checked all means of
methods of transportation. And nothing that we`ve
come up with yet.

But there was quite a bit of activity for about a
three-hour period from 9:30 on, which is important
for a couple of reasons: One, there was a call that
came out early in the morning from an individual in
the building of what she thought she heard some kind
of scream. Now, we did dispatch someone to the
scene, didn`t find anything. But we do know that Ms.
Levy was very active on her computer more than three
hours after that particular call came in, so it
doesn`t really point to that being something that we
need to be...

SCHIEFFER: Wait a minute, let me go back. You`re
saying that the police were called to her apartment
on the day that she disappeared?

RAMSEY: Yes, there are some transcripts. And, of
course, part of what we did was check all 911 tapes.
And we did that early on in the investigation. And
it is apparent that there was a call from a resident
in the building about four hours prior to that
activity that we talked about on the computer. So
that`s a vital piece of investigation.

SCHIEFFER: She heard a scream?

RAMSEY: Well, she heard what she thought was a
scream. And we dispatched right away, and the
officer didn`t find anything. But now we know from
computer records, and we`ve known for some time that
from 9:30 to 1:00 -- and this was like 4:30 in the
morning, if my memory serves me correct -- there was
a great deal of activity on her computer.

So, again, something that we`re looking at. We`re
looking at all aspects of this thing. But that
computer activity, a significant amount happened

BORGER: So you`re saying Chandra was in her
apartment at the time somebody called 911 reporting
to have heard a scream. Does that lead you to
believe that that was completely unrelated to

RAMSEY: Well, we`re certainly looking for every link
we can and anything, whether she was in her
apartment at that time or wasn`t in her apartment or
whatever. But from the e-mail message she sent her
mother, from the surfing of the web, for lack of a
better word to describe the other activity that was
taking place, there`s nothing that would be
suspicious in nature that would lead us to believe
that, you know, she had been attacked or there was
some problem or whatever. It could just be
coincidence, but certainly it is something that our
investigators have looked at. [11]

It seems an awfully risky plan to lure somebody out to the front door and beyond at 4:30 in the morning and lure them into a vehicle or overpower them and drag them into a vehicle, unless she knew them well. The Newport deskclerk/security would be a problem. Somebody would have to come in and carry her out, or she would tentatively go out the door probably saying something to the deskclerk and not come back, not to mention the scream. And somebody spent the morning on her computer regardless.

Is this another coincidence that's too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence? Many people want to believe that that scream came from Chandra, because it makes sense, and nothing much else does.

We are all confused. There was a scream at 4:30 am. A 911 call. With an abduction in the early morning hours, Chandra for all intents and purposes didn't exist when she disappeared. No alibi would even be needed.

Chandra disappeared when she didn't disappear, and disappeared again without anyone noticing. And when we look back, we see a 911 call, a scream, an abduction. Is that what was intended?

The only thing standing between us believing she was abducted with a scream in the wee hours are obscure and ambiguous computer logs. Was someone not technically savvy enough to have thought out history logs of internet use, or could there be someone savvier than we think?
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Next chapter - On Her Computer

Murder on a Horse Trail - Table of Contents

The Scream
1. Cosby, Rita. “Flight Attendant Says Condit Asked Her to Lie.” Fox News. 3
July 2001.

2. Dvorak, Petula and Allan Lengel. “Missing Intern’s Parents Back in
D.C.—With new attorney.” Washington Post 20 June 2001.

3. Marshall, Joshua Micah. “Chandra’s contested calls to Condit: It’s the New
York Post vs. Newsweek. Or could the truth lie somewhere in between?” Salon 1
Aug. 2001.

4. Condit, Gary. Interview with Sun-Star. Merced Sun-Star 24 Aug. 2001. Transcript.

5. Isikoff, Michael. “Interview with Gary Condit and Abbe Lowe.” Newsweek 3
Sept. 2001.

6. “She Was Going Back Home’: New Description of Chandra’s Mindset Seems
to Make Suicide Less Likely.” ABC News 19 July 2001.

7. “Thread Archives.” at www.justiceforchandra.com/forums , 5 Sep. 2002.

8. Martin, Billy. Interview with Bill O’Reilly. The O’Reilly Factor. Fox News. 24
Jan. 2002. Transcript.

9. Isikoff, Michael; Klaidman, Daniel; Clift, Eleanor; Murr, Andrew. “An Affair
to Remember.” Newsweek. 16 July 2001: 20.

10. Press Release. “Oxon Hill man sentenced in murder of Omni Shoreham
employee.” U.S. Department of Justice. 4 Dec. 2001.

11. Ramsey, Charles. “Is Private Lie Detector Test Taken by Rep. Gary Condit
Good Enough for D.C. Police?” Interview with Bob Scheiffer. Face the Nation.
CBS. 16 Jul. 2001. Transcript.

“Bethesda Red Line train.” at
http://www.wmata.com/metrorail/Stations/station.cfm?station=12 , 5 Sep. 2002.

“Chandra’s Brother Talks.” Los Angeles Times 21 June 2001.

“Condit submits to fourth interview.” NBC News. 27 July 2001.

Doyle, Michael. “Anxiety deep, answers few in Levy case.” Modesto Bee 12 May

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

Fagan, Kevin. “A Life Suspended.” San Francisco Chronicle 28 Apr. 2002.

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

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

Jardine, Jeff. “Condit faces new allegations.” Modesto Bee 4 July 2001.

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

Lehmann, John and Cynthia Bournellis. “Friends had been telling Chandra Levy
for years: Quit falling in love with older men.” New York Post 12 Aug. 2001.

Lengel, Allan and Sari Horwitz. “Levy Was on Internet on May 1, Police Say
Intern Looked Up Rock Creek Map, Other Sites.” Washington Post 16 July

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

“New Details Emerging About the Morning Chandra Disappeared.” Associated
Press 15 July 2001.

“Omni-Shoreham Hotel.” at
http://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/default.asp?h_id=6 , 17 Jan. 2002.

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

Squitieri, Tom and Kevin Johnson. “Police again want to talk with Calif. Congressman.”
USA Today 21 June 2001.

Sweet, Lynn. “Levy ‘jubilant’ at last sighting.” Chicago Sun-Times 20 July 2001.

“Trader Joe’s Bethesda.” at http://www.traderjoes.com/locations , 5 Sep. 2002.
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