- The Washington Times - Friday, June 15, 2001

Chandra Ann Levys family and friends are worried. They havent seen hide or dark-brown hair of her since April 30, after she canceled her membership at the popular Washington Sports Club on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest Washington and e-mailed her parents, telling them she was on her way home to Modesto, Calif., to attend her college graduation. Theyve appealed to the universe for help and pitched in tens of thousands of dollars as an enticement to learn of her whereabouts.

So who, you might ask, is Chandra Ann Levy? And why is her disappearance raising such a worldwide ruckus?

Indeed, the Levy case is but one of hundreds of Washington´s missing persons cases for 2001 that remain open. Police are clueless and careless about compiling information in those cases. So while we pray that those missing persons are found, we obviously need to implore the Metropolitan Police Department to get its missing persons act together.

Like most of those other cases, Miss Levy´s was initially an ordinary missing persons case ordinary in the sense that she was out and about one day and then nowhere to be seen the next. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who do that every day. Some vanish with absolutely no trace or apparent motive, like Miss Levy, while others are kidnapped or stage their own disppearance for reasons that most of us cannot fathom.

Miss Levy´s friends and family, and the coworkers she met as an intern in Washington with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, say she is responsible and conscientious and would have wanted to attend her graduation at the University of Southern California. She would not, they say, fake her own disppearance, which was unlikely considering she left her credit cards, purse, money and driver´s llicense in her rented condo. She also had her bags packed and ready to go.

Police, though, after searching her apartment, her neighborhood, her haunts, her e-mails and telephone records, have found no evidence of foul play, no suspects and no evidence of a crime.

But Washington wouldn´t be Washington if the media weren´t stirring their own pot of suspicions.

See, the case of Chandra Ann Levy is no ordinary missing persons case because she knew a congressman, and someone told The Washington Post she had a romantic relationship with that politician. He told police that she had indeed spent the night at his apartment before, and that she did, indeed, on several occasions visit his office on Capitol Hill. He also offered reward money after her parents contacted him and asked for help.

"He is not a suspect," Washington´s deputy police chief said. "We don´t have a crime. Without a crime, you don´t have a suspect."

Bob and Susan Levy, as you might imagine, are more concerned about their daughter´s present whereabouts than past relationships professional, romantic or otherwise. Who could blame them?

Here´s a young woman, 24 years old, an attractive woman, a woman with a promising career. She travels 3,000 miles from home to work as an intern in one of the most politically romantic cities in the world and puff.

Mother´s Day comes and goes and there´s no word. Her birthday comes and goes and no word. Father´s Day is June 17. Can´t you just imagine?

Go ahead and think the worst. Most people relunctantly do after someone´s been missing for so long.

I mean, we pray for the best of circumstances but think the opposite, especially here in Washington.

In Washington, all kinds of women and young girls turn up missing and we never hear word one from the media. As a matter of fact, the FBI said just this week that 443 D.C. residents have been reported missing this year. Nary one of them has reappeared.

What´s worse is the police department´s missing persons records, if you can call them that, are in such disarray that investigators are unable to say if the Levy case is similar to any others. Or if it contrasts with any others. Investigators can´t draw any comparisons race-wise, gender-wise, neighborhood-wise or otherwise.

What a pity. What a pity that all of these Washington women are missing, missing this year alone, and police can´t even put enough pieces to the puzzle together to attempt to figure out what´s amiss (including the remote possibility that some of them disappeared of their own accord).

Still, the media could play a significant and a positive role in all this by doing more than trying to drum up juicy tidbits about a Washington politician and a Washington intern.

Newspapers could, for example, run photographs, descriptions and brief details about the missing women just as they do about fugitives from justice.

Or television stations could run such information on children.

There are all kinds of creative ways the media could really and truly help but first and foremost the media should report the news that someone is missing.

However, the media can only do so much. The police must do the most important part of a missing persons case, the hardest part.

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