Chandra Levy murder trial to begin at last

Jury selection began yesterday for the trial of an illegal immigrant from El Salvador that may finally answer a mystery haunting Washington DC for more than nine years: who killed Chandra Levy?

The story began on 1 May 2001, when the 24-year-old intern at the Federal Bureau of Prisons left her flat in downtown Washington to go for a jog. But she never returned – and in the months that followed, her disappearance turned from a routine missing persons case into an international sensation.

It emerged that she had been having an affair with the congressman from her home-town district in central California, and he immediately became a suspect. But the congressman, Gary Condit, denied all involvement, and for a while the entire story was forgotten, as the September 11 terrorist attacks took over the headlines. But a year after Ms Levy vanished, a small part of the mystery was resolved. On 22 May 2002, a man searching for deer antlers and other animal bones in a remote area of Rock Creek Park, about four miles from her home, found parts of a human skeleton. The remains were quickly identified as those of the intern, and the case was declared a homicide.

However, the trail then went cold again. For five years the police explored every lead, but in vain. Mr Condit, who in 1992 was defeated in his bid for re-election to Congress, was formally exonerated as a suspect, and until March 2009 the Chandra Levy case appeared destined to remain unsolved.

In fact an obvious suspect existed all along, in the person of Ingmar Guandique, who had entered the US illegally in 2000 from El Salvador and moved to Washington, where he worked as a day labourer and belonged to a local gang.

He had been convicted of assaulting two other female joggers in the same park at about the same time as Chandra's murder, and was serving a 10-year sentence in a California prison when he was arrested and charged in the Levy case in April 2009. At his arraignment hearing Mr Guandique pleaded not guilty. Now, almost a decade after Chandra disappeared, his trial has started. The outcome is far from sure, even though authorities are convinced they have their man. There were no eyewitnesses to the Levy killing, nor any DNA evidence linking it to Mr Guandique, while no murder weapon has ever been found.

According to the Washington Post, the prosecution's case rests mainly on statements the accused made to fellow prisoners in his California prison, and on letters he wrote. But of direct circumstantial evidence there appears to be none. Mr Condit is expected to testify at the trial. But he is considered unlikely to throw much light on what happened in Ms Levy's final hours.

Even the opinions of her family are divided. Robert Levy, a 64-year-old oncologist, told the Post he was "pretty sure" that Mr Guandique killed his daughter. But Susan Levy, Chandra's mother, sounded far less certain. "I still have a lot of questions, and I don't know I'll ever get the answers," she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Audit Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Graduate Opportunities are available at a lead...

Tradewind Recruitment: Experienced Cover Supervisor

£12000 - £14400 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: Experienced Cover Supervisor...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Account Manager

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are proud to be on...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project