Drawn to the capital and death

Washington DC: Discovery of Chandra Levy's body puts internship phenomenon in the spotlight

Police investigating the death of the Washington intern Chandra Levy have uncovered evidence suggesting she was tied up and bound – the most clear indication yet that the 24-year-old was murdered. Detectives say her jogging trousers – discovered in a park along with her skeletal remains – were knotted in a way that indicated they may have been used to restrain the former government aide.

Disappeared, largely forgotten and then suddenly cast back into the glare last week with the discovery of her partial remains in Washington's Rock Creek Park, the story of Ms Levy captivated the capital and the nation at large with its irresistible mix of politics, sex and death. Had she not been having an affair with a married Congressman immediately before her disappearance at the beginning of May last year, it is most likely she would have joined the ranks of the hundreds of people who disappear in the US every year, mourned by their parents but ignored by the networks and their faux-empathetic anchors.

But the revelation of her affair with Gary Condit, 54, the House Representative from her home town of Modesto, California, and who emerged a disingenuous and deceitful figure, ensured that her disappearance dominated the news agenda – at least until the attacks of 11 September.

Its was still resonant enough to prevent him securing re-nomination for his seat in March, mainly because of public perceptions that he failed to tell all he knew about the disappearance, and might have hindered the investigation.

The discovery on Wednesday morning of her skull, pelvis and – subsequently – other remains in the 1,700 acre park by a man searching for turtles, meant she is once again dominating the news. More than that, it has focused attention on the Washington phenomenon of internships where bright young things – male and female – come from across America to the capital for a summer's worth of unpaid work experience which gives them the chance to network, but which also leaves them vulnerable to the interest of powerful men such as Mr Condit.

"When I heard the news this week I did think 'That could have been me'," said Stephanie, 21, from Maryland, who is spending this summer working for a senator and who on Friday night was enjoying a drink with friends in one of several bars popular with interns and staffers in the shadows of Capitol Hill. "Luckily my senator is very responsible, but I think there are others who are not. And there are some people who would do anything for their career."

Some might note that a relationship with a former White House intern nearly brought down the former President. But in truth, a straw poll of interns on Friday night suggested that most felt relationships between interns and politicians were uncommon. Most also believed it was a two-way process, and that there were some young women who came to Washington to further their careers by whatever means it took – though none said this applied to Ms Levy, who appeared to have fallen deeply in love with Mr Condit.

Kate Heiberg, 20, a student at George Washington University, has landed a prestigious internship with Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. "There are a lot of reasons [for taking an internship]," she said. "It's very competitive, even though they are unpaid. It's a hot thing to do in college, it's a foot in the door... starting to get to know some things." Wandering along Pennsylvania Avenue on a balmy evening, the light reflecting off the dome of the Capitol, it is easy to see how intoxicating the impressive the surroundings along with the whiff of power must be.

In reality though, while interns do get the chance to network and have some hands-on experience at the centre of things, many internships are far from challenging.

Ms Levy was an intern with the US Bureau of Prisons. Though she performed well, her internship had been prematurely ended because she failed to tell her employers that she had already graduated. Ironically, she was due to return to California for her graduation ceremony a few days after she went missing.

On Tuesday her parents, Robert and Susan Levy, will lead a two-hour memorial service for their daughter at the Modesto Centre Plaza. It is also the day that Washington's medical examiner, Dr Jonathan Arden, is expected to release his findings as to how Ms Levy met her death.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back