City Paper is not for tourists
One of the District’s most sensational murder cases is finally over, with Ingmar Guandique being sentenced to 60 years in prison in D.C. Superior Court this morning.
It was quite a dramatic sentencing. Susan Levy, the murdered intern’s mother, pointed at Guandique in the courtroom, telling him “rot in hell.” She ended her remarks by looking at Guandique and saying “finally, fuck you,” according to TBD.
Guandique, who killed Chandra Levy, an intern in the Bureau of Prisons back in 2001, originally wasn’t fingered for the crime. Instead, U.S. Rep. Gary Condit of California was suspected, due to his affair with the young intern. (A media circus erupted—a maligned congressman makes for much better headlines than an illegal immigrant from El Salvador.)
The sentencing also apparently ends a story that’s become part of local media lore. Years after the killing, The Washington Post devoted a seies of stories to the unsolved mytery back in 2008. But it was Amy Keller, a reporter at Roll Call,who actually first wondered if Levy really had been the victim of a random attack, instead of a malicious congressman. As she wrote in a 2002 Salon article:
While my colleagues speculated on the proximity of Condit’s Adams Morgan apartment to the section of park where Levy’s body was recovered on May 22, I wondered if the location of her body might point to another possibility: Perhaps Levy really was the victim of a random attack. I know the trepidation I feel each time I jog or bike along the park trails near my own neighborhood on the outskirts of Washington. The charming, leafy streets here are deceptive; Washington has its high crime areas, some just blocks from where members of Congress live in opulent brownstones.
I took a straightforward approach, and clicked through news databases, searching through stories about other crimes that might have been committed in the park. Eventually, I clicked my way to Ingmar Guandique.
Guandique is serving out a 10-year sentence in federal prison for brutally attacking two young women along the Broad Branch trail last May and July. That’s the same section of Rock Creek Park where Levy was found. She had gone missing in May of 2001.
I knew I had a good story on my hands. But I had no idea that once I published it, other reporters following the Levy investigation would question my motives, or accuse me of being a pawn of Gary Condit.
Keller, in fact, did have her motives questioned, and was more than once called a Condit pawn. As she wrote in her 2002 article, at one point a reporter from the Modesto Bee, a paper in Condit’s home district, called to ask if Condit’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, had tried to plant Keller’s story to make Condit look good. He said he found Keller’s timing “curious” and Keller struggled to respond to the charge:
I stammered out a “No, that’s now how it happened at all,” and fought back the urge to ask him whether he was also investigating the theory that White House officials had planted Levy’s bones in the park in an effort to divert attention from stories alleging they had ample warning of the Sept. 11 attacks. I also stifled the desire to tell him where to stick his theory—that none of my sources were any of his, nor any other reporter’s, business.
Calmly—and probably a little too nicely—I explained that I simply used one part hunch, two cups of research and one-quarter teaspoon of source-based reporting, otherwise known as conversing with the cops. No, Gary Condit’s lawyer had definitely not planted this one, I told him.