- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2001

Federal prosecutors monitoring the Chandra Levy case will conduct a "witness conference" with police officials to examine evidence and interview investigators searching for the missing 24-year-old intern, two law enforcement sources told The Washington Times.
Prosecutors in the next few days will meet with the case's original police detectives, computer specialists, forensics technicians and major-crimes detectives from headquarters, the law enforcement sources said. Witness conferences typically are called to update prosecutors and new investigators, prepare witnesses for a grand jury appearance or interview witnesses before a trial begins.
Police also will brief new FBI agents on the 3-month-old case to determine what leads should be retraced and what else needs to be done, the sources said.
Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, yesterday said prosecutors "have been working with the Metropolitan Police Department and FBI pretty much since the inception of the matter and will continue to do so as needed."
The police department has come under criticism this week in some reports, and law enforcement officials yesterday told The Times that federal authorities have complained about the frequent media appearances of top police officials and about the amount of information being released.
"It's unusual to have daily briefings," one official said. "It goes beyond everything that we've been taught."
An FBI spokeswoman said the agency is not assuming command of the investigation and has no "cold case" squad, as one report stated. D.C. police and the FBI enjoy a close and cooperative relationship, collaborating on cases routinely, and both contribute personnel to long-running joint task forces that focus on narcotics and dangerous fugitives.
"We're not taking over the case," said Special Agent Cindy McCraw, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Washington field office.
Meanwhile, D.C. police continue to chase leads in the search for Miss Levy, but the investigation essentially remains where it was almost three months ago, with no significant clues, suspects or idea where she is. Investigators are going back to step one: examining Miss Levy's last known location and interviewing everyone who could have had access to her, including fellow tenants and building employees.
Detectives have yet to complete that task, but Executive Assistant Chief Terrance W. Gainer, the department's No. 2 official, said some residents have avoided police or not made themselves available for interviews. He did not elaborate.
As the trail grows cold, the FBI's Washington field office has shifted agents from its "Major Case" squad to the probe — a normal and routine change, said FBI officials.
Some members of the squad, which has tackled and solved some of the area's toughest cases over the years, have been assisting in the Levy probe since the start, FBI officials said.
As investigators backtrack through witnesses, statements and evidence, the focus of the investigation is shifting slowly from Rep. Gary A. Condit, a police source familiar with the case has told The Washington Times.
Mr. Condit, a married California Democrat who represents Miss Levy's district, told police in a third interview that he had an affair with the intern, law enforcement sources told The Times. Mr. Condit, 53, has not been charged with a crime, and police have said he is not a suspect in Miss Levy's disappearance, which is being investigated as a noncriminal missing persons case.
Top police officials, however, are criticizing Mr. Condit and his attorney, Abbe Lowell, for conducting a lie-detector test on the congressman last week without the knowledge or consent of any law enforcement officials. Mr. Lowell has said Mr. Condit passed the test, which he also paid for, showing he had nothing to do with Miss Levy's disappearance, did not harm her and did not know where she was.
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and his top deputy have called the lie-detector test's results "useless" and "not credible," but they have stopped short of formally challenging Mr. Condit to undergo a polygraph test by the FBI or demanding a fourth interview.
Mr. Lowell and a hired publicist have said Mr. Condit is cooperating fully with police.
Police also are awaiting the results of forensic tests on evidence gathered from Mr. Condit's apartment during a search last week.
Those results are the wild card in the case, one law enforcement source said. Depending on the results, police suspicions about Mr. Condit could be confirmed, he could be cleared or the investigation could spin off into an entirely new direction, the source said.
Analysts at FBI headquarters are conducting DNA tests on samples that appear to be blood. The samples were taken from a pair of pants that Mr. Lowell did not want police to take, from a spot on Mr. Condit's bedroom floor and from a piece of Venetian blind cut off by an evidence technician, law enforcement sources told The Times.
FBI examiners also are analyzing hairs and fibers collected during the search, as well as a substance on a baseball hat that investigators took from Mr. Condit's apartment, a law enforcement source told The Times.
The analysis is being conducted on an "expedited" fashion, the source said, but it could be at least another two weeks before anything is ready.
Miss Levy, a former intern at the Bureau of Prisons, was last seen on April 30. She was due at a graduation ceremony in California in May, but when her parents could not contact her for a week, they notified police. Detectives found her possessions undisturbed in her apartment, and found no signs of foul play. Only her keys were missing.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide