- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

D.C. officials Tuesday said an arrest warrant has been issued for a Salvadoran inmate accused of murdering federal intern Chandra Levy nearly eight years ago, following evidence that includes his reported admissions to committing the crime along with two accomplices and the discovery of a photo of Miss Levy in his jail cell.

Ingmar Guandique, 27, is currently in a California prison serving a 10-year sentence for assaulting two women. Officials expect him to be transferred to the District within the next two months and be charged with first-degree murder in Miss Levy’s death, said Jeffrey A. Taylor, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

“We believe Miss Levy was a random victim of Guandique, who allegedly attacked and killed her as she walked or jogged through Rock Creek Park on May 1, 2001,” Mr. Taylor said. “Today marks a signficant step forward in our efforts to bring some sense of closure and justice to the parents of Chandra Levy.”

Miss Levy was last seen April 30, 2001, and her disappearance garnered national attention after reports surfaced that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons intern was having an affair with then-Rep. Gary A. Condit, a California Democrat who lost his re-election bid in 2002.

Her remains were not discovered until May of 2002 in Rock Creek Park, where officials think Miss Levy had gone the day she disappearerd and where Guandique had attacked two other female joggers.

In a seven-page affidavit in support of the warrant, Metropolitan Police Detective Todd Williams said the locations of Guandique’s previous attacks and Miss Levy’s attack, the immigrant’s former home and the site where he was arrested in Northwest “are within an area that is approximately three miles by one mile.”

The documents also say authorities discovered a photograph of Miss Levy apparently taken from a magazine during a September 2008 search of Guandique’s cell, and recount in graphic terms reported discussions between Guandique and others regarding his role in Miss Levy’s disappearance.

Read the affidavit here

In November of last year, investigators interviewed a witness who claimed to have known Guandique for many years. The witness recounted that Guandique had boasted of his membership in the gang MS-13 and that he was nicknamed “Chuckie, because he had a reputation for killing and chopping up people,” the affidavit states.

Guandique also said he had committed rapes, and recounted how he and two other men attacked, raped and murdered an Italian-looking woman with thick, dark hair who had been jogging along a path in a park, according to the affidavit.

In a February conversation with investigators, another witness recounted how Guandique reportedly said he had been smoking marijuana laced with cocaine with two other men while in a “big park” and that the group abducted and raped Miss Levy.

“Guandique told [the witness] that when he saw Levy, she had curly hair, and he thought she ‘looked good,’” the affidavit states. “He told the other two males he was going to ‘get her.’”

The affidavit also says that when Guandique and a witness were listening to a recent radio report about his imminent arrest in the Levy case, the inmate cursed and stated, “It’s over. They got me now. What am I gonna do. ”

Mr. Taylor said the warrant for Guandique’s arrest is based on the “cumulative weight” of the evidence gathered in the case. He declined to discuss whether a specific piece of evidence led to the warrant or if investigators had discovered DNA linking Guandique to the crime scene.

He also said the investigation is ongoing and would not discuss who else might be under suspicion in the case, including the additional men reportedly mentioned by Guandique in the affidavit.

“I’m not going to comment in-depth about the evidence,” Mr. Taylor said.

If convicted, Guandique faces a maximum of 60 years in prison.

D.C. police initially questioned him about Miss Levy’s disappearance before her remains were discovered and administered a polygraph test after a fellow inmate said the Salvadoran an illegal immigrant had confessed to the killing while in prison.

Guandique passed his test, while the inmate who provided the information failed a similar polygraph test. Mr. Taylor said the polygraph issue will “certainly be something we have to confront” in prosecuting the case.

D.C. criminal defense attorney Ted Williams said authorities seem to have “strong circumstantial evidence” but lack physical evidence against Guandique, and the inmate could seek a plea agreement in the case for providing information about his accomplices.

Mr. Williams also noted that while D.C. law does not allow capital punishment, prosecutors could pursue the death penalty against Guandique if he is convicted because the Levy murder took place in Rock Creek Park on federal property.

“The big thing they will have to detemine is were others involved as he has represented,” Mr. Williams said. “The one thing he was consistent about was the two other guys in the Levy case.” Mr. Condit, who moved to Phoenix after losing his re-election race, initially suggested that his relationship with Miss Levy was only friendship and denied even to his colleagues that it was romantic. He later acknowledged to police that he had an affair with Miss Levy, but denied any involvement in her disappearance.

“It is good news in a way, but it’s still heartbreaking,” Jean Condit, Mr. Condit’s mother, told the Associated Press. “The hurt that has been done to our family will be never be resolved in this world and of course this is nothing that’s going to make any difference for her parents, who have grieved so much.”

In announcing the arrest warrant, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the development was the result of persistence by investigators and said they hoped it would offer some closure for Miss Levy’s parents.

“It dawned on me that there’s very little that I can do or any of us can do now to offer anything to the Levys other than justice,” said Chief Lanier, who said she spoke to Robert and Sue Levy Tuesday morning. “And I hope that this offering of justice gives them some sense of peace.”

In a statement to the AP on Tuesday, Mr. and Mrs. Levy said they “take solace in the fact that the search for the person responsible is ended.”

They said the warrant means that the person responsible for the crime “will finally be held accountable for his actions and hopefully unable to hurt anyone else ever again.”

Joseph Weber contributed to this report.

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