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Warrant Issued For Immigrant In Chandra Levy Killing

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Carissa Hoffer-Halliet
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« on: March 04, 2009, 11:32:18 am »

Ingmar Guandique: Warrant Issued For Immigrant In Chandra Levy KillingBRIAN WESTLEY | March 3, 2009 10:13 PM EST | 

WASHINGTON — In the nearly eight years since intern Chandra Levy was attacked and killed in a Washington park, witnesses said a Salvadoran immigrant boasted in letters and jailhouse conversations that he picked out women randomly and stalked them. One witness said the man even bragged of maiming and killing people.

While behind bars for two other attacks in the same park where Levy was killed, police say, Ingmar Guandique slowly revealed that one of those women was Levy, explaining over time how with the help of two teenagers, he grabbed her by the neck and choked her so other joggers wouldn't hear her screams.

Authorities issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for Guandique, 27, and said he would be charged with first-degree murder in Levy's death. He is expected to be brought back to Washington from the federal prison in Adelanto, Calif., where he is serving time for attacking the other two women, sometime in the next two months.

The announcement was a long-awaited break in a case that has long stumped the city's police department and led to harsh criticism that the initial investigation was bungled because police missed leads and even searched the wrong part of the park for Levy's body. When the remains were found, they were so decayed police couldn't recover much evidence.

Levy's parents said in a statement given to The Associated Press that the development meant their daughter, who was 24 years old when she vanished, "can finally truly rest in peace."

"Thankfully the individual responsible for this most heinous and terrible crime will finally be held accountable for his actions and hopefully unable to hurt anyone else ever again," Bob and Susan Levy said.

Levy had just completed an internship with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons when she disappeared after leaving her apartment. The Modesto, Calif., woman was wearing jogging clothes when she went missing. A man walking his dog found her skull and bones in the park a year later.

Her disappearance and the intense attention surrounding it destroyed the political career of former U.S. Rep. Gary Condit of California. Authorities questioned Condit, Levy's congressman, in the disappearance, but he was never a suspect in her death. Condit, a popular Democrat for a dozen years in his district, was romantically linked to Levy, and the negative publicity from the case was cited as the main reason for his overwhelming primary loss in 2002.


Key to breaking the case appeared to be interviews _ detailed in an affidavit supporting the warrant _ with at least two witnesses who claimed Guandique had told them he killed Levy. Authorities also interviewed the person who found Levy's remains and other victims attacked in the park. U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said that there was no physical evidence linking Guandique to the crime, but the "cumulative weight" of circumstantial evidence gathered over the years led investigators to the conclusion that Guandique was the killer.

When detectives did zero in on Guandique, they visited him in prison in September 2008 and found a man with gang-related tattoos _ several of them the marks of notorious Latino gang MS-13 _ as well as a photo of Levy that appeared to have been ripped from a magazine in his cell.

One witness interviewed last month told police that Guandique said over time that he and two male teenagers were sitting on a bench in a park smoking marijuana and **** when he saw Levy jogging. The witness said Guandique thought Levy "looked good" and told the two teenagers that he was going to "get her."

Guandique said the three followed her along a path and at one point grabbed her and took her into the bushes, the witness said. When she started screaming, he grabbed her by the neck and choked her to death, so that people nearby would not hear the struggle.

Where she was attacked, police said, clothing was strewn from the path, down a steep hill toward the bottom of a ravine. Her shoes were unlaced. Her clothing was turned inside out. Her tights were knotted into restraints.

During the attack, Levy scratched him, the affidavit says. To hide that evidence, the witness said Guandique instructed his family to tell police the scratches came from a fight with his girlfriend if he was ever questioned.

Authorities said no other arrests were imminent but that the investigation was ongoing.

One person whose identity was not disclosed in the affidavit told authorities that in numerous letters Guandique wrote, he talked about spending time in the park and said he had killed a young woman. Later, in a telephone conversation the witness recorded, Guandique said he was talking about "the girl who's dead."

In another conversation, Guandique boasted that he was a member of the Salvadoran gang MS-13 and said that he was known as "Chuckie" because he had a reputation for "killing and chopping up people," another witness told police. Guandique hasn't been charged in any other slayings.

Investigators spoke with Guandique in 2001 and 2002, and at one point gave him a polygraph test that was inconclusive. During that time, they also questioned his family and friends, but found no leads relating to Levy. In a statement, his attorneys called the investigation flawed and said police had made numerous mistakes.

"The public should not draw any conclusions based on speculation by the media and incomplete information," said Santha Sonenberg and Maria Hawilo, the public defenders representing Guandique.

District of Columbia Mayor Adrian M. Fenty defended the work of his police department at a news conference Tuesday. Fenty said the warrant showed the department's resolve and their determination to let no cold case go unsolved.

Authorities said different detectives were assigned to the case in 2007, reviving the investigation. On Feb. 20, Levy's parents said District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier had told them an arrest was coming within days. Lanier said she also spoke to the family Tuesday and said she hoped the arrest would offer some sense of peace.

"It dawned on me that there's very little I can do, or anyone else can do, for the Levys other than to offer them justice," Lanier said.

Media reports that Guandique's arrest was coming apparently startled him. On Feb. 26, prison officials pulled Guandique from his cell and searched it. Authorities said he had told someone he planned to kill the detectives and start a fire with a battery and a tissue when they closed in, then use a handcuff key he had fashioned from toenail clippers and a piece of metal to escape.

As the report aired, a witness said Guandique became nervous. "It's over," the witness quoted him as saying. "They got me now. What am I gonna do?"

___

Associated Press Writers Nafeesa Syeed and Gillian Gaynair in Washington, and Garance Burke in Modesto, Calif., contributed to this report.
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Carissa Hoffer-Halliet
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2009, 11:32:53 am »



This undated file photo released by the D.C. Department of Corrections shows Ingmar Guandique. An individual close to the investigation into the death of Chandra Levy said the warrant was issued Tuesday, March 3, 2009 for imprisoned Salvadoran immigrant Ingmar Guandique in the 2001 slaying. (AP Photo/DC Dept. of Corrections, File)
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Carissa Hoffer-Halliet
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2009, 11:33:49 am »

Stanton Peeleaddiction expert, raconteur
Posted February 24, 2009 | 08:53 AM (EST)
Screw CSI: The Chandra Levy Case Reveals, Once Again, Police Can't Find Their Asses with Both Hands


What depresses me about Law & Order, CSI, Without a Trace, Cold Case File, and all similar police and investigatory shows on television is not that they expeditiously solve crimes every week through meticulous sleuthing. It's that real law enforcement, crime labs, and investigatory agencies virtually never get things right.

The Washington D.C. police will reportedly soon announce the arrest of someone for the 2001 murder of Chandra Levy. The suspect they are expected to name has been in federal prisons for the last eight years, since pleading guilty to assaulting two women in a park near where the 24-year-old California woman's body was found. The assaults he admitted to were in the same time frame as the murder. Oh, did I mention, an informant first came forward identifying this man in September, 2001, seven-and-a-half years ago?

Prior to their fabulous - if somewhat belated - discovery, the police made mistake after mistake - a keystone cop routine familiar to anyone who watches the way real police, rather than their fictional TV counterparts, operate around the country.

In the Levy case, the police neglected to collect tapes from the numerous security cameras around her apartment building until they self-erased after seven days. Notified by Chandra's father on May 6 that she had been out of touch for five days, they went to her apartment that and the following days without pulling the tapes. Wouldn't just about anybody who has watched a crime show on television have figured out to do that? Not the D.C. police. Such a tape would identify both the time she left her apartment, and likely that she was wearing jogging clothes, thus pointing cops in the right direction.

The police did examine her computer, and discovered she had accessed a page including the address of the Klingle Mansion at Rock Creek Park. This discovery, however, was delayed a month since a police sergeant had corrupted the computer's search history, which technicians had to reconstruct. Wouldn't you think the police would have a procedure in place for handling information on computers? They do on Law & Order.

The police spent days searching the mansion on the assumption Chandra had an assignation there. They simply couldn't get beyond Levy's affair with Congressman Gary Condit, although there was no evidence linking him to the murder. (His Congressional career was, nonetheless, DOA that day also.)

Somehow, they didn't consider that the page with the mansion's address also included information about the park's trails - and that Chandra had clicked to a park trail map on a beautiful spring day.

Some three months after her disappearance, when the man now accused of the crime had already been apprehended for his assaults, the police finally brought a team of police cadets to systematically search the park. Well, sort of. The Chief of D.C. Police ordered that the cadets search within 100 yards of the trails in Rock Creek. Instead, the commanding officer at the site inexplicably had them search within 100 yards of the roads crossing the park.

Ten months later, more than a year after the killing, Chandra's body was found lying within a hundred yards of one of these trails, surrounded by articles of clothing. But, by then, the forensic evidence that would have identified the killer was gone.

All of these errors - and more - were identified in a 2008 12-part series by the Washington Post. The early mistakes, oversights, and just plain stupidity of the cops meant that the case wouldn't be solved for nearly a decade. The Post series, moreover, decisively identified, well before the police and prosecutors recently did, the current suspect in the crime. Well, why not - he had been connected to the murder even before Chandra Levy's body was discovered.

Does overlooking Chandra's corpse in a park remind you of anything? The body of three-year-old Caylee Anthony was found last December in a wooded area about a half-mile from her Florida hone six months after she went missing. Her mother, Casey, had already been charged with the girl's murder based on her nonsensical stories about her daughter's disappearance, and the area where the body was found was a logical disposal spot.

These woods had already been searched by investigators, who hadn't discovered the body although it was lying on the ground in a plastic bag. The remains of the small girl were finally identified by a utility worker. Actually, the same meter reader had called the police after spotting the bag in August, and the Orange County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) claimed it sent an officer to search the site, with no result. The meter reader finally returned in December to find the body again and lead police to it.

The OCSO press conference at the time explaining the sequence of events and background to the discovery of Caylee's body left everyone confused. It seemed mainly geared towards exculpating the OCSO's failure to find the body. You know those press conferences? Those self-congratulatory seances where police officials use a lot of words to say they don't really know/can't say anything "at this time."

Speaking of which, do you still wonder what happened to 23-year-old Stacy Peterson, fourth wife of that sneering ex-cop, Drew - the wife he claims ran away with another guy in October 2007 never to contact her family or her 4 and 6-year-old kids again? You know Drew - the guy whose previous wife died mysteriously in a bathtub?

And, CSI fans - did you see the report this month by America's most prestigious scientific body, the National Academy of Sciences, regarding crime labs around the country? Virtually every test they perform - "including fingerprinting, firearms identification and analysis of bite marks, blood spatter, hair and handwriting" - lack a firm scientific basis. And even if they do have some grounding in reality, most are conducted sloppily by non-scientifically trained personnel.

Of course, DNA evidence is scientifically reliable. But did you catch that 2005 investigation of the highly regarded Virginia crime lab? As reported in the NY Times:

Television viewers relishing crime-show denouements based on airtight DNA evidence had best get a grip on reality: DNA is only as reliable as the humans testing it. Virginia's once highly touted crime lab has starkly demonstrated this in an error-ridden death-row case that was propped up repeatedly by botched DNA studies from the state's supposed experts.
By the way, don't think the D.C. cops were so inept that they missed the connection between Chandra Levy's deadly attack and similar crimes admitted to by Ingmar Guandique, the man in prison, that were committed at the same time and place. After all, he admitted encountering Levy in the park during his original July 2, 2001 interrogation by a U.S. Park officer. Unfortunately, the park cop neglected to mention this tidbit to the D.C. police, and they never learned it on their own.

However, in September of that year, an informant in the D.C. jail where Guandique was being held told police that he had admitted killing Chandra. But Guandique denied committing the murder to the police. In February 2002, the U.S. attorney's office administered a polygraph test to Guandique - you know the ones that are too unreliable to be used in court, but which Maury swears by? The result was indecisive, leading police and federal authorities to discount Guandique as a suspect, until now. Do you think the police would re-investigate Rock Creek Park near the scenes of the attacks this man had admitted to, where Chandra's body still lay undiscovered? They didn't, but it's great to know they would have on all of those television shows!

Nonetheless, D.C. police continued their investigation of Guandique - albeit haphazardly. One of the women who Guandique had attacked was struck by the similarities in the crimes (including the proximity of the locales). She "couldn't understand why the police detectives investigating Chandra's disappearance never interviewed her about Guandique. She talked to reporters, and Guandique's name surfaced publicly for the first time May 23, 2002.

"When reporters questioned D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, he downplayed Guandique as a suspect. 'The press is making too big a deal of it,' Ramsey said." In other words, unlike on television, where the police and investigators break through all sorts of obstacles to uncover the true source of a crime, in real life, the police and prosecutors ignore and reject people with real information who urgently try to flag the culprit for them.

All right, get back to your TV - why depress yourself? Just pray you never have to rely on police to solve a serious crime that befalls you or a loved one.

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