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Flawed Police Work Revealed in “Finding Chandra”

Chandra Levy's remains were found in Rock Creek Park, about a year after she disappeared.

Chandra Levy's remains were found in Rock Creek Park, about a year after she disappeared.

When Washington intern, Chandra Levy, went missing on May 1, 2001, the news of her disappearance and revelations of an illicit affair with California congressman Gary Condit churned up a media circus. Police and press instantly seized on Condit as a likely suspect, but with the attacks on September 11 several months later, media interest waned and the police investigation stalled. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz launched a fresh journalistic investigation into the disappearance in 2007, and uncovered several key errors in the handling of the case. A book chronicling their discoveries, Finding Chandra: A True Washington Murder Mystery (Scribner, 287pgs) was released this month, and is based on their series of articles published in 2008 by The Washington Post.

Among what the authors’ call “critical mistakes” were the failure to recover surveillance footage from Levy’s apartment building on the day she went missing. Police also corrupted her computer hard drive, which delayed investigators from viewing her website history and her research into hiking trails for Rock Creek Park. Levy’s remains were eventually found by a hiker in Rock Creek Park, about a year after she went missing. Though police had searched the park earlier, their canvass was not thorough. “…They only searched off the roads, not the paths,” Higham states in an interview with NPR. Sadly, her body was only about 50 yards from where the search ended. Horwitz and Higham present their own theory about Levy’s killer, and point to Ingmar Adalid Guandique. After her disappearance, the El Salvadoran immigrant was convicted of two violent attacks committed in that area of Rock Creek Park. Guandique was indicted for Levy’s murder in April 2009, though little physical evidence exists to link him to the crime.

Read The Washington Post review

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  1. Scott D. Imamura
    June 28th, 2010 at 19:44 | #1

    I’ve got to read this book. I love private eye and police investigation T.V. shows and books. So, many good books to read. But, so little time. I remember when Chandra Levy went misssing. So much media coverage. I think her family lived in Modesto at the time. This small town in Central CA has gone through a lot of trial and tribulations during the last 20-25 years. Remember Scott Peterson………..

  2. June 29th, 2010 at 15:34 | #2

    Yes, Modesto could be the setting of several true crime books. I think Scott Peterson’s sister wrote a book about him right after he got convicted. Talk about family tension.

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