- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2009

U.S. immigration officials said Monday they ordered a detainer in 2005 for Ingmar Guandique, an illegal immigrant expected to be charged this week in the 2001 homicide of D.C. intern Chandra Levy.

However, the officials declined to say whether they knew Guandique had been in the country illegally since March 2000 or exactly when they learned he had been sent to federal prison on similar charges in February 2002.

Cori Basset, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said only that the agency issued the retainer four years ago to keep Guandique, 27, in custody after he finishes serving 10 years in a California federal prison for two separate attacks on women in Rock Creek Park, where Miss Levy’s body was found in 2002.

After inmates who are illegal immigrants finish their sentence, authorities have 48 hours to turn them over to the agency for deportation proceedings.

On Saturday, law enforcement officials reportedly said they had DNA evidence linking Guandique, from El Salvador, with the murder of Miss Levy.

ICE officials said Monday they have been responding to a large number of questions about Guandique’s immigration status following a blog posting Saturday that stated Guandique had been given permission to legally live and work in the U.S. “within weeks” of committing the park attacks.

The posting was from a 2002 story by news magazine Human Events.

Miss Levy vanished after leaving her Dupont Circle apartment in May 2001.

Her story gained national attention because Miss Levy, 24, had had a relationship with then-Rep. Gary Condit.

Mr. Guandique was arrested two months later for his May 14 and July 1 assaults, on women who were jogging in the park.

While being interrogated by U.S. Park Police, Mr. Guandique said he “saw” Miss Levy but did not attack her.

The Human Events article says Guandique had applied for a Temporary Protected Status from the Immigration Naturalization Service after President Bush announced that all Salvadoran nationals were eligible, due to earthquakes that killed hundreds of people in the country in January and February 2001. The article says Guandique was allowed to work legally while his application was pending, which was subsequently denied because he did not submit fingerprints.

Officials at the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services said Monday that government agencies do not publish information on an individual’s personal immigration status.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier called Miss Levy’s parents Friday night to say there was a break in the case, but police have since said nothing more, as the public waits to learn what reportedly has led police to seek the arrest of Guandique, a suspect shortly after Miss Levy’s disappearance.

Chief Lanier said Monday that it was important for officers not to share information until all the facts had been collected.

“People have worked too long and put in too much effort in this that it makes it all the more important that no one leak information too soon,” she told WRC-TV, Channel 4.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, said details of the case will be released to the public shortly.

“We want to have something to discuss with the media within the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said.

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