An intern, an immigrant, an actress, and a killer!

Director of the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute, Sheryl McCollum, gives her take on the mysterious death of Chandra Levy

For every cold case, unsolved homicide and overturned murder conviction, there is one undeniable truth: a killer is among us! These killers are free to go to the same places we go everyday: movies, shopping, school, restaurants and Church.  They are a part of our daily lives.  Since 1980, more than 211,000 homicides remain unsolved.  Some of these killers have died. Some are in prison for other crimes. However, a large majority are free.

One only has to revisit the Chandra Levy case as an example.  Susan Levy, Chandra’s mother, has had to live this fact for over a decade.  She never really knew the reason or motive behind her daughter’s murder.  She never knew for sure if the right person was in prison.  She wondered if the killer was stalking her, in jail or dead.  Every time she went into a grocery store or flew on an airplane she wondered if he was there.  She prayed for the truth to come out but was scared to death of the answers.

This nightmare started when Chandra Levy went missing.  On May 1, 2001, when Chandra disappeared.  There were more questions than answers.  Her cherished daughter, Chandra, was missing.  The Levy’s, frightened and confused, flew to Washington, D.C. where Chandra was living while working as a Federal Intern for then Congressman Gary Condit’s Office.  Chandra was no where to be found.  Her parents knew she did not just walk away.  They feared the worse.

A year later Chandra’s remains were recovered in Rock Creek Park and it was ruled a homicide.  The case went cold.   Seven years pass with no arrest and no real answers. Then, an arrest was made for the murder of Chandra Levy. Ingmar Guandique was set to stand trial for her murder. Guandique stood trial and there was a conviction.  Justice is finally served – or is it?  There is an appeal.  A new trial is granted.  The “killer” walks!  That means whoever killed Chandra Levy is walking free among us!

Looking back on how this happened we can start with May 14, 2001.  Just two weeks after Chandra went missing, Guandique attacks a woman in Rock Creek Park.  She escapes and becomes a live witness.  July 1, 2001, Guandique attacks another woman in Rock Creek Park.  The victim fights him and escapes.  He is arrested within an hour of this attack.  Both victims were jogging when attacked.  Both were white, petite, with dark hair.

February 8, 2002, Guandique gets a 10-year sentence for the attacks.  Then, on May 22, 2002, a man walking his dog in Rock Creek Park finds human remains.  Those remains turn out to be Chandra Levy.  Now, the obvious question: Could all three women in Rock Creek Park be connected?  All three women were jogging, white, petite, with brown hair.  Chandra was found just feet away from where the other attacks took place.

All of the women were at the end of their run, so they were likley fatigued and not able to fight with full strength.  All three women were wearing headphones from a Walkman and would not have heard their assailant coming up behind them.  Any investigator would certainly see the possibility that all three cases could be connected.

On September 9, 2008 detectives take a statement from Guandique where he admits he “touched” Chandra Levy!  Detectives asked why his DNA would be at the crime scene and he states “so what if I touched her”.  This statement alone connects him to all three women attacked in Rock Creek Park.  In May 2009, Guandique is indicted for the murder of Chandra Levy.

November 22, 2010, Guandique is convicted of murdering Chandra Levy.  Justice is served – or is it? One of the witnesses against Guandique was a jailhouse snitch.  He testifies that Guandique told him that he killed “that bitch” but “did not rape her”.  Then this witness was secretly taped by an actress that he met at a motel.  The defense for Guandique asked for a new trial.  Whatever was on the tape was enough for the prosecution to announce they would not re-try Guandique and moved to have him released from prison.

Was he the killer?  Is the witness lying now or then?  Where did this actress come from?  Why did she decide to tape the witness?  Where is Guandique now?  Why won’t they release the tapes?  Why don’t we know his whereabouts?  Is he on parole or just free?  Is the Chandra Levy case now considered a cold case?  Are the police investigating this case now?

I spoke to Susan Levy a few days ago.  I have talked with Susan Levy many times over the past decade.  But this conversation was different.  She was different.  Susan Levy has never heard the tapes.  Does not know what’s on them.  She only knows that it must be powerful to blow this case out of the water like it did.  She fears that Guandique will harm again.  She does not know where Guandique is.  She does not know where the witness is. She does not know where the actress is.

I met with the actress at the center of the tapes.  She has gained nothing by coming forward.  She was never paid, protected or benefited in any way by coming forward.  She contacted Susan about the tapes first.  Susan told her to contact the prosecution and the defense.  She did.  Now she is in fear of her life.  She has received death threats and has had to go into hiding.

The witness was an inmate.  He shared a cell with Guandique.  I understand he is in the witness protection program.  Why are we protecting a liar?  What does he know and about who?  There were other witnesses.  There were two live victims and another inmate that testified at trial. There were similar crimes committed by Guandique that he was in prison for committing.  He made statements to the police that put him at the crime scene!

Why not retry him without this one witness?  Why not attempt to seek justice without this lying inmate?  In the words of a famed Atlanta prosecutor, “Swans don’t swim in the sewer”. Therefore we cannot be shocked that a convicted criminal would lie in order to receive a lighter sentence.  Take him out of the equation there is still a solid case again Guandique.  The tapes must be mighty damming to someone or something powerful!

Was Guandique the killer?  The only thing for certain in the Chandra Levy case is that there is a killer among us!

[Feature Photo: Debbie Noda/AP, Pool, File]