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Murder on a Horse Trail - Discussion

 
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lector



Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:59 pm    Post subject: First post Reply with quote

I'm new here and, though well experienced on Net bulletin boards, a little unsure of where to post things on this one. But I figured I'd plunge ahead where it seems logical & hope that the moderators don't have to move things around.

I'm a retired systems analyst. A month ago I was googling possible sightseeing destinations for an upcoming trip to DC. This site came up near the top of one of my searches (probably for Klingle Mansion). I clicked out of curiosity, wound up in the middle of Murder on a Horse Trail, and was hooked.

I eventually read the entire book from start to finish. I want to commend Ralph for doing a superb job of telling the story chronologically, assembling the record of media coverage and following the investigation. It's a fascinating & provocative read; with so many details amassed in one place, it's a unique resource.

I've also read many other threads. I haven't reached any firm conclusions yet. I'm something of a skeptic by nature. I'm still trying to absorb the wealth of detail here & put it together into a pattern that seems plausible to me. I'll leave it at that for now.

I have some familiarity with DC, particularly the Dupont Circle area, after several trips there in the last 3 years. That lends a sense of immediacy to the story, if nothing else, for me.

I have several immediate questions. I'll do my best to post them in the right places around the board as time allows. Like everyone else here, I'm interested in getting at the truth.

My thanks to everyone involved in maintaining this board.
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jane



Joined: 22 Sep 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome, lector! We look forward to hearing from you.
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rd



Joined: 13 Sep 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was a good place to start, lector. Thank you for the kind words, thoughtful skepticism and contributions alike appreciated.

Since the thread has done its job introducing Murder on a Horse Trail, probably best for us to take it now to Latest News for further discussion. I'll move our posts to start a thread Murder on a Horse Trail - Discussion and look foward to your thoughts on the book. We also have an ongoing discussion of the upcoming trial of Guandique for Chandra's murder, prosecution oriented in threads like Prosecutor seeks life sentence for Guandique and defense oriented in Guandique's Defense.

And of course everyone should feel free to start a new thread in Latest News as needed.

welcome.

rd

Murder on a Horse Trail Chapter 24. Guandique

click to read the online true crime mystery novel Murder on a Horse Trail: The Disappearance of Chandra Levy

www.justiceforchandra.com home page
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lector



Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:36 pm    Post subject: The Bone Collector Reply with quote

I've also read the Washington Post series updating the Chandra Levy "cold case." To me, the most significant revelation came here (I am quoting from the thread on the WaPo investigation where the July 24, 2008 installment is discussed):

Quote:
From WP Chapter 11 Walk in the woods.

Shortly before 9:30 a.m. on May 22, 2002, Philip Douglas Palmer, a 42-year-old furniture maker, walked his dog down a steep ravine off the Western Ridge Trail in Rock Creek Park. Palmer had been hiking trails in the park for 30 years, and he was looking for items to add to his offbeat collection of deer antlers and animal bones.


After six years, in two casual sentences, the "turtle hunter" (being relatively new to the details of the case, I think of him as the bone collector) is identified, much is explained about what he was doing, and new questions are raised.

The notion of him as a turtle hunter seems to come from the May 26,2002 WaPo story on the discovery of Chandra's remains. If you look closely at the language in that story, there's no direct quotation from Palmer on the subject. The characterization is apparently based on what someone in the police department told the reporters. Anyway, that's a side issue at this point.

What's more interesting is the explanation of why he was where he was. As I understand the geography of that area of Rock Creek Park, there are several fingers of land that extend west or southwest from the Western Ridge trail, separated by ravines, all sloping down towards Broad Branch Creek and Broad Branch Road. On May 22, 2002, Chandra's remains lay atop one of these fingers. Palmer & his dog were walking along the Western Ridge trail & then went down one of the ravines - we aren't told whether it was the one to the north or the south of Chandra's location - which put them close enough for the dog to pick up a scent.

The idea that Palmer & his dog were walking along Broad Branch Road, or had gone up the hill from there, when the dog picked up the scent seems also to have come from that May 26, 2002 WaPo story. It doesn't actually mention where Palmer was before he discovered the skull, only that he walked down to Broad Branch Road afterwards. It'd be natural to assume that he went back the way he came, but it seems that he didn't.

As a frequent day hiker who occasionally goes off trail, I find Palmer's actions plausible, though it's hard to speak definitively on that point without walking the Western Ridge trail myself.

Most significant, though, is the statement that Palmer had hiked the Rock Creek Park trails for 30 years and the implication that he did this with some regularity. That leads to the immediate question of whether he might have walked down that same ravine with his dog at any time between May 1, 2001 and May 22, 2002. If he didn't, then this is a dead end. If he did, and the dog noticed nothing, while that wouldn't be proof that Chandra was killed elsewhere & later dumped in Rock Creek Park, it would be one more indicative element in this puzzling and frustrating story.

I really hope that someone thought to ask Palmer that question in May of 2002, and that there's an answer somewhere which will eventually see the light of day.
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rd



Joined: 13 Sep 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I understand the geography of that area of Rock Creek Park, there are several fingers of land that extend west or southwest from the Western Ridge trail, separated by ravines, all sloping down towards Broad Branch Creek and Broad Branch Road.

It's more a massive side of a hill, with deep ravines cutting down the side. Here's a couple of views:





Matching up the map with the aerial view, we can see picnic area 18 just before the white road circles out to the right between the two Ridge Road NW labels. You can see the road making that big circle to the right clearly in the aerial view.

It is circling around a huge peak. In the map you can see the green trail circling to the left. From grove 18, that is the No Horses trail. (The map shows the slashed horse trail continuing straight up over the peak.)

In the aerial view you can envision the No Horses trail circling through those trees parallel to and high above Broad Branch Road. The forest is dense and we can see nothing through those trees, just as when we are down there on that horse trail there is little light that makes it way through. I try to describe it in chapters Hunting Turtles and Horse Trail.

x2 on the map is where one would drop straight down the hillside from the No Horses trail about 238 feet to where Chandra's body was covered with brush in a washout below a tree. I would estimate that x2 in the aerial view is about halfway between the uppermost words Ridge Road NW and the curved Broad Branch Rd NW. You can make a closer estimate by mentally superimposing a matching left half circle to the right half circle the road makes around the peak. No Horses trail completes the circle of the peak and meets up again with the horse trail and Ridge Road at about where the word Ridge in Ridge Road NW.

I would estimate x1 where Chandra's remains were found to be about halfway between x2 and the dip in the words Broad Branch Rd NW, or about 25% of the way up from the dip to the uppermost words Ridge Road NW.

This is truly a massive steep side of a hill. I was literally unable to walk on it without sliding downhill. But it is heavily forested and you cannot slide far without running into a tree. I know that is unusual, we have all walked in forests and on steep hills, but this one is different, a lot of it having to do with the gravelly surface that provides no footing.

There are at least two very deep ravines that run downhill, not far apart. Chandra was in between the two ravines in such a way that approach from either side or below is very impractible. An approach from above would be basically to go there and back up.

I did end up approaching from the left side, but had to climb down into and back up I would guess a 12 foot deep ravine. Only because I saw an orange flag and was trying to get there.

But yes, you're right, Chanda's remains were on top of a section in between the two ravines, very well protected from anything but a determined visit from above.

The idea that Palmer & his dog were walking along Broad Branch Road, or had gone up the hill from there, when the dog picked up the scent seems also to have come from that May 26, 2002 WaPo story.

That comes from Michael Doyle's reporting. I examined the reporting again closely after the Washington Post reported this, and found that he was the sole source of the walking along Broad Branch Road and the Washington Post always was secretive in their reporting, only referring to "veering from a path", never mentioning the path. The path would be the No Horses trail above or possibly traversing across from a faint path to the cliff and up and down through the ravine as I did.

Having said that, there were so many artifacts on the side of the hill within sight of Chandra's remains that it is inconcievable her body was spread all over the side of the hill the previous spring and summer during searches as her bones indicated. None of her DNA was found at the scene that shows she decomposed there. There is every indication her remains were brought there later after the searches and after she decomposed.

That leads to the immediate question of whether he might have walked down that same ravine with his dog at any time between May 1, 2001 and May 22, 2002.

And if he didn't, how no other dog alerted his owner in a similar way in the preceding year. If a year old skull hidden beneath a foot of brush attracted a dog, imagine what a decomposing body with bones strewn across the hillside would attract.

Yet no one was attracted until Condit and his staff started being questioned by a grand jury, and Condit's lawyer Garagos said he talked to Condit and they believed Chandra would be found in May.

And she was.

rd
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lector



Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rd wrote:



This is truly a massive steep side of a hill. I was literally unable to walk on it without sliding downhill. But it is heavily forested and you cannot slide far without running into a tree. I know that is unusual, we have all walked in forests and on steep hills, but this one is different, a lot of it having to do with the gravelly surface that provides no footing.

There are at least two very deep ravines that run downhill, not far apart. Chandra was in between the two ravines in such a way that approach from either side or below is very impractible. An approach from above would be basically to go there and back up.

I did end up approaching from the left side, but had to climb down into and back up I would guess a 12 foot deep ravine. Only because I saw an orange flag and was trying to get there.


rd

I appreciate those details too. I think it's difficult to understand this case without understanding that site, among many other things, & I'm still trying to get my brain around it.

I'd kind of hoped to visit it on our trip to DC last week, though I didn't think I could make it work, as we were obligated to stay out in Maryland for a business convention that my wife was attending & we had no car. As it proved out, those distances made it impossible. If the convention had been in the Dupont Circle area, as it was for several prior years, I might well have attempted it from there, in effect doing my own version of the Challenge.
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rd



Joined: 13 Sep 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sort of glad you didn't get the chance to try, lector. I wasn't really expecting anyone to make it back. Starting at 1 pm and finding your way to grove 18 and on back out the No Horses trail where the sunglasses were found, I'm not counting on anyone feeling too frisky at that point to head back.

rd
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lector



Joined: 07 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rd wrote:
I'm sort of glad you didn't get the chance to try, lector. I wasn't really expecting anyone to make it back. Starting at 1 pm and finding your way to grove 18 and on back out the No Horses trail where the sunglasses were found, I'm not counting on anyone feeling too frisky at that point to head back.

rd

Oh, I wouldn't have done it according to any time frame. And I'd certainly have used public transport to get as close as possible - no way would I walk it from Dupont Circle. (That's what I meant by "my own version.") Even then, I realize I might not have gottten anywhere near grove 18 in the time I had. It still would have been interesting.

Perhaps another time.
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rd



Joined: 13 Sep 2002
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That reminds me of how Chandra Levy's remains were found: a mentally-challenged man was looking for turtles at the bottom of the Rock Creek Park hill - near the lower road - and picked up her skull.

<snip>


Given I wrote a book on the subject, I found this statement fascinating. I had never seen the person who found Chandra's skull described as mentally challenged before. When I see something for the first time after all these years, that's pretty remarkable. He was not identified until two years ago by the Washington Post, and was described as a woodworking craftsman. But it was a mystery for years, and he was originally described as walking along the creek, but following his dog uphill with the original story being that he was hunting for turtles, but later changed to looking for bone to work with. So still somewhat of a mystery to me as to what the truth is.

Also, comparing the two locations, Chandra's remains were found hundreds of feet above the road and creek, about halfway down the side of a very steep hill. Her bones were spread out over several yards on the side of the hill, and indeed her skull did make its way several feet down the hill below the bulk of her remains.

The book is posted on my web site free to read.

Murder on a Horse Trail: The Disappearance of Chandra Levy

rd
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jane



Joined: 22 Sep 2002
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know whether the poster just assumed a man looking for turtles must be mentally challenged?
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rd



Joined: 13 Sep 2002
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

not a bad assumption, jane :)

With focus on Guandique now with a scheduled trial this year, here's our ongoing background and analysis of the murder charge, prosecution, and defense of Guandique in the Chandra Levy case:

True Crime With Aphrodite Jones - Chandra Levy case

Washington Post's Higham and Horwitz' Book

Guandique Trial Postponed, New charges to come!

Guandique Murder Analysis

Prosecutor seeks life sentence for Guandique

Guandique's Defense

Guandique indicted by DC federal grand jury

Guandique to be charged with Chandra's Murder Feb.20/09

Washington Post investigation of Chandra Levy cold case

Murder on a Horse Trail Chapter 24. Guandique

click to read the online true crime mystery novel Murder on a Horse Trail: The Disappearance of Chandra Levy

Track offenders with GPS recorders!

www.justiceforchandra.com home page
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rd



Joined: 13 Sep 2002
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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

responding to Finding Chandra book review in JewishJournal.com (with limited space hence terse comment):

Hi, I'm author of Murder on a Horse Trail: The Disappearance of Chandra Levy. I encourage purchase and reading of Finding Chandra, that's not the point here.

It is an insult to Chandra to say she was jogging... anywhere, much less Rock Creek Park horse trails. Please visit www.justiceforchandra.com and read Murder on a Horse Trail and my analysis of Guandique.

And please let's care about Chandra's life as much as we would care about her death by knowing about her.

rd
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rd



Joined: 13 Sep 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2010 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

from the Talk page of the Wikipedia article on Chandra:

If the website officially represented the Levy family, I suppose it would not be out of place. However, I notice that the links at the very top of the page are promoting the sale of the book Murder on a Horse Trail that Ralph Daugherty (I presume you?) has written. If so, this may pose a problem with conflict of interest guidelines.


hi, yes, I am the author, and I published Murder on a Horse Trail online on the site in 2005. The links on the home page are to the book contents and one explaining why I published it online. I wanted to get the information to the public. A hard copy can be purchased from online book sources but that is only rarely done.

The link here for many years was to chapter "On Her Computer" made by someone with an interest in the Joyce Chiang case and Chandra Levy case, I don't know who, I didn't check the editing history, but was changed a couple of years ago to the site home page in a standardization edit. The site www.justiceforchandra.com contains the only comprehensive collection of analysis of the case on the web. It is owned by me and not affiliated with the Levy family.

The online publishing of Murder on a Horse Trail represents the highest ideals of the free dissemination of information that Wikipedia represents. It does not cost me that much to have the site hosted, but there is no advertising or other commercial affiliations and the sales of the book that occurred just paid for publishing it.

It's interesting that I ran across a comment on the web last night about a student using it along with the Washington Post series for a class project. That's what the site is there for, educational.

A link to the table of contents (the link I have on the home page) of Murder on a Horse Trail: The Disappearance of Chandra Levy would be fine instead if that's more helpful. http://www.justiceforchandra.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2562


I commend you for being forthright about this. I read through the Google preview and found it to be fairly interesting. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to include the listing for the book itself under Further reading. Any reader intent on locating a hard copy should have no problem doing so on their own.


Thanks for the response and kind words, but I don't understand the last sentence. :) First, I agree Further reading may be most appropriate although it was External links because that's what it is, a link to a free publically available copy of Murder on a Horse Trail. I also have pictures, hand made maps, etc. we've added to help illustrate that I was not able to get into the book.

Your call is fine with me, but just to be clear, there is no need for a reader to find a hard copy which may be implied by Further reading (and is implied in your last sentence), rather than providing the external link to Murder on a Horse Trail, which is included on the home page of www.justiceforchandra.com that was removed. I don't care if the justiceforchandra.com link is restored, or replaced with a link to the contents of Murder on a Horse Trail, or a mention in Further reading, whatever suits you best for Wikipedia standards.

The full book is available to read with a click though. If you haven't read it, and because it comes up so prominently in searches I thought most who wanted to have looked at it, a bad assumption I guess, I hope you and anyone else interested in Chandra's case give it a read.

rd
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