- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2001

Detectives searching for Chandra Levy are focusing on known sex offenders and halfway-house residents, asking the ex-convicts about their activities and whereabouts around the time she vanished, a top Metropolitan Police Department official said.
Investigators have begun interviewing the registered offenders to rule out their involvement in the 3-month-old disappearance of the 24-year-old former intern, Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer said yesterday.
"It was our hope to have finished the sex offenders off by this weekend," Chief Gainer said.
Police officials yesterday calmed a brief media frenzy sparked by a supermarket tabloid report that investigators are seeking an interview with Rep. Gary A. Condit's wife, Carolyn, who supposedly had a confrontational telephone conversation with Miss Levy before she vanished. Mrs. Condit, whom police already have interviewed in the Levy case, was in the Washington area when Miss Levy was last seen on April 30.
"I don't think there's any truth to that whatsoever," Chief Gainer, the department's No. 2 official, said of the National Enquirer report, which was posted on the tabloid's Web site yesterday and hits newsstands today.
Three law enforcement sources familiar with the Levy case said detectives have no plans to interview Mrs. Condit, whose husband this month admitted to investigators that he had an affair with Miss Levy after having denied a romance for weeks.
Police have said repeatedly they do not consider Mr. Condit, 53, a suspect in Miss Levy's disappearance, which is being investigated as a noncriminal missing-persons case. Mr. Condit represents the Modesto, Calif.-area district from which Miss Levy hailed.
Meanwhile, police cadets yesterday continued their search of wooded areas and abandoned buildings in the District for clues about Miss Levy's disappearance. They found nothing.
Detectives are focusing on registered sex offenders after The Washington Times first reported Saturday that police investigators had not interviewed them in the course of the department's biggest missing-persons case in its history.
More than 20 of the most violent known offenders live within walking distance of Miss Levy's former residence near Dupont Circle and Mr. Condit's Adams Morgan apartment.
The Times interviewed several offenders in the area, including a convicted rapist, who said they had not yet been interviewed by detectives. One said he no longer gets surprise visits from his parole officer and only has to show up periodically at a police station and present his identification.
Detectives are focusing on the most violent offenders because they fit the profile of an attacker who would injure a victim who fought back, a law enforcement source said.
Sex offenders have some of the highest rates of recidivism and are more likely to repeat their offense than other criminals, according to crime scholars and Justice Department statistics. Chief Gainer said this week that investigators could rule out some sex offenders, such as pedophiles, and focus on offenders with a history of violence against strangers.
The interviews of halfway-house residents could take longer than this week, Chief Gainer said, adding that he did not know the number of houses or residents. "We're obligated to check everybody," he said.
The reward for information that helps locate Miss Levy has grown to more than $200,000 after a supermarket tabloid contributed $100,000.
Law enforcement officials and Mr. Condit's attorney were still negotiating conditions to conduct a fourth interview with the California Democrat, two law enforcement sources said.
The McClatchy Newspapers' wire service reported that the price of loyalty to Mr. Condit is growing steeper for his senior staffers, who have hired top-gun Washington lawyers to represent them.
The hiring of well-known defense lawyers by Condit aides Mike Dayton and Mike Lynch suggests the seriousness of the questions investigators are posing. It also demonstrates anew how Mr. Condit's entire office has become tangled in the net that investigators have cast for Miss Levy.
Yesterday, the attorney for Miss Levy's parents raised the possibility of a lawsuit against Mr. Condit if police are unable to solve their daughter's disappearance.
"It is clearly an option, and it is one that the family will consider at the appropriate time," lawyer Billy Martin said in an interview with the Associated Press.
The suit would allow Miss Levy's parents to seek answers in court about their daughter's disappearance, but it will not be considered while the police search for Miss Levy continues, Mr. Martin said.
Mr. Martin, who represents Robert and Susan Levy, said the family is not accusing Mr. Condit of wrongdoing, but that he cannot rule out Mr. Condit's involvement in Miss Levy's disappearance. "We'd hope to one day be able to do that," Mr. Martin said.

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