- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 25, 2002

The discovery on Wednesday of the skeletal remains of a former Washington intern answered one question where is Chandra Levy? and raised another what happened to her? While it took the Metropolitan Police Department 13 months to answer the former, how long will it take them to satisfactorily answer the latter? The answers will not likely come by Tuesday, when her family and friends gather for Miss Levy's memorial service in Modesto, Calif.

Investigators, including pathologists, are trying to determine the answers to several critical questions. How did Miss Levy die, of course, is the foremost question on the minds of everyone involved and those peering in via the media. Was Miss Levy shot, stabbed, strangled or suffocated? These are things not easily determined based on skeletal remains. How long had her remains been in that spot in Rock Creek Park? How did her remains get there? What clues have the plant and animal life yielded? Had the remains been there since last spring, when Miss Levy first disappeared and before two other women had been attacked in the park? Were the remains dumped there last fall, after police scoured the 1,755-acre looking for breaks in the case? Or were Miss Levy's remains there all along overlooked during last summer's sweep, which included cadaver-sniffing dogs?

Indeed, precisely what happened to Miss Levy and exactly when it happened and where have come to weigh heavily on a chief and police department that have drawn considerable criticism for unsolved homicides and other violent crimes. In fact, the criticism was so heavy prior to and since the April 30, 2001, disappearance of Miss Levy that Police Chief Charles Ramsey dismantled the city's troubled, centralized homicide unit. The new expanded unit was even given a new name Violent Crimes Branch. Twelve detectives were assigned in January to begin investigating serial rapes, pattern robberies and unsolved cases, such as the Levy case. It was the fourth time in a decade or so that the violent crimes units was revamped. So perhaps two of the most profound questions are: Is the Metropolitan Police Department equipped to handle such a high-profile case as Miss Levy's? Or will grandstanding for the TV cameras take precedence?

The site where Miss Levy's remains were found is a secondary crime scene, law-enforcement sources and other familiar with the case have told The Washington Times. That, of course, means Miss Levy was killed somewhere else, but investigators have yet to identify the scene of the initial crime. So, the Metropolitan Police Department continues to classify the Levy case as a generic death investigation rather than a homicide a technicality in an investigation that, hopefully, will have dramatically changed by Tuesday. Only when the killer is caught will Miss Levy's family and friends finally be able to say, "Rest in peace, Chandra." May that day come sooner rather than later.


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