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How Police 'Focused' on Guandique

POSTED: 03:07 PM ET, 03/ 3/2009 by Derek Kravitz

Police have told major newspapers that Ingmar A. Guandique will be charged with Levy's death. (Family Photo)

A flawed polygraph test initially helped "diffuse" suspicion away from a Salvadoran day laborer in the Chandra Levy case, which rocked the Washington area in the summer of 2001.

But when her remains were found May 22, 2002, along a hillside in Rock Creek Park, investigators immediately associated the crime scene with two attacks committed by 27-year-old Ingmar A. Guandique. As criminal profiler Kim Rossmo said after examining Chandra's case, "When you consider the relatively low violent crime rate in Rock Creek Park, Guandique stands out like a neon sign."

Guandique, then 21, was already in prison for the assaults of two female joggers in Rock Creek Park around the time Levy's remains were found and investigators began questioning him in connection with her disappearance. Investigators sent the clothes he had been wearing upon his July 1, 2001, arrest -- dark, knee-length baggy shorts with a white stripe on each side -- to an FBI laboratory in Washington for DNA tests. Police also interviewed Guandique's brother, Huber, several times, pressing him to give them clothing samples.

For a year, media attention had focused on a congressman with whom the 24-year-old Levy had been having an affair: Rep. Gary A. Condit. But the media frenzy surrounding Condit hurt the investigation, according to Jack Barrett, former D.C. chief of detectives.

Last year, former D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey acknowledged the lack of evidence that Condit "knew anything or had anything to do with Chandra's disappearance." When asked why his department hadn't focused on Guandique sooner, Ramsey said it was "unfortunate we missed her body" during the original search, "because we could have found forensic evidence."

A 13-part series published in The Washington Post last summer refocused attention on the Guandique connection. As Post reporters Sari Horwitz, Scott Higham and Sylvia Moreno said in their reporters' notebook series, the team "began this investigation of Chandra Levy's murder with an open mind about the case and who the prime suspect might be. We conducted a year of interviews - with many people who never have spoken publicly before - and an analysis of thousands of pages of documents. The evidence strongly suggests Chandra was attacked in Rock Creek Park by a stranger."

The series detailed a host of evidence and mistakes made in the Levy case that seemed to point to Guandique as a suspect:

  • Guandique told Detective Joe Green that he saw Levy in Rock Creek Park.

  • On the day Levy disappeared, Guandique did not show up for work, investigators discovered.

  • The D.C. police and the prosecutors working on the Chandra Levy case never interviewed the two women who were attacked in the park by Guandique -- Halle Shilling and Christy Wiegand.

  • The contents of Guandique's confidential pre-sentencing report that included the statement: "When I'm about to commit an offense, I tell myself to go ahead and do it, but afterwards I feel bad about it... Sometimes, I cannot control myself when I see someone alone in a secluded area with something of value."

  • A jailhouse informant said Guandique allegedly told him that Condit paid him $25,000 to kill Levy. The informant later failed a polygraph exam.

  • The first U.S. Park Police official on the Chandra Levy crime scene said it reminded him of the scene where Guandique attacked Wiegand on July 1, 2001.

  • Police investigating the Chandra case did not visit one of the Guandique attack scenes until more than a year after Guandique's arrest.

  • From the time of Guandique's arrest, it took police 13 months to interview Guandique's ex-girlfriend and her mother. The two said Guandique had violent tendencies and he was asked to leave their home in the spring of 2001.

  • From the time of Guandique's arrest, it took police 14 months to interview Guandique's landlady, who said he looked as if he had been in a bad fight around the time of Chandra's disappearance on May 1, 2001. She also said she had thrown out two bags of Guandique's belongings that summer.

Still, Guandique has maintained his innocence, telling The Post in an interview from prison that had "never seen her, and I don't understand the reason why the police started to suspect me. . . . I have nothing to do with the death of that girl. I am innocent, and I am not afraid of the police investigation."

But today, nearly eight years after Levy originally disappeared, D.C. police announced that they are charging Guandique with first-degree murder in Levy's death.

By Derek Kravitz |  March 3, 2009; 3:07 PM ET Chandra Levy , D.C. Region
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

It is truly unfortunate that the police zeroed in on Condit and did not get all the information (even from other agencies) compiled and cross checked. That this criminal was allowed to attack several more times is a travesty. When will police and D.C. learn not to overlook all potential suspects, not to focus on the obvious ones!

Posted by: Badger21 | March 3, 2009 3:30 PM

Fry him.

Posted by: Plutonium57 | March 3, 2009 3:36 PM

It would be nice if the Post and other major papers instead led with huge headlines saying:


Condit's due his Michael Corleone moment. The press should exonerate his name with the same vigor with which they've besmirched it.

Posted by: treetopflyer | March 3, 2009 4:25 PM

If this guy's family covered up for him, they need to pay.

Posted by: crm1951 | March 3, 2009 5:02 PM

Posted by treetopflyer, March 3, 2009 4:25 PM:
"It would be nice if the Post and other major papers instead led with huge headlines saying:
Condit's due his Michael Corleone moment. The press should exonerate his name with the same vigor with which they've besmirched it."
Actually, the Post did run an article about Condit's investigation and the reporters got his reaction to the news that an arrest was imminent.
Other than making a comment regarding his concern for the Levys, Condit had nothing else to say.
Because -- no one can exonerate Condit from the evidence that he had an ongoing relationship with an intern.
Just as a noted Democratic president got into hot water for having an ongoing relationship with an intern.
Whatever this does to their marital relationships with their wives is their own business.
But developing an intimate relationship with an intern working in their offices is a workplace issue; that's different.
That's what Condit paid for at the polls.
The question about whether this issue was a factor in her disappearance required investigation.
Condit got caught in that scandal of his own making.
No one owes him an apology for writing articles about that thorny issue.
I'm a Democrat who cares about women's issues in the workplace and that factor makes it much more difficult for women to develop a career without pressures to climb the corporate ladder because of professional work, not because of the "casting couch."
While Clinton was an excellent president in many issues I care about, he revealed a personal hypocrisy on this issue.
So did Gary Condit.
They both did it to themselves.
Just as Larry Craig and David Vitter did on the Republican side; same song, second verse.
And the Senate GOP members on the Ethics committee did their party no favor by refusing to allow the Senate ethics rules to apply to those men.
That's also hypocrisy and it's wrong (as David Shuster points out often on MSNBC).
In all 4 cases, voters had to do their work for them.
The 13-part series made it clear to the public that Guandique deserved a very focused investigation.
The arrest warrant is the result.
For the sake of the Levy family, I'm glad that this situation has finally established a definite decision to take this accusation to court.
May God grant us clarity on this case with a trial and, should he be found guilty, swift and certain justice as far as the law allows.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | March 3, 2009 5:28 PM

Dear Sirs:

It seems me if Mr. Guandique declared that:

1-"he saw Levy in Rock Creek Park".

(in other words: He knew her or she was familiar to him)

2-"On the day Levy disappeared, Guandique did not show up for work, investigators discovered".

(this point is very coincident with her disappearance)

3-"When I'm about to commit an offense, I tell myself to go ahead and do it, but afterwards I feel bad about it...

this type of person is a cold blood criminal.He dosn't care nothing and nobody.

4- "Sometimes, I cannot control myself when I see someone alone in a secluded area with something of value."

(It is easy to say that if the victim is indefense young or old woman. He is a
criminal in potence)

Keep him in jail and watch him if he learn how "to control himself" with the rest of the male prisoners.

Thank you

Alfonso M Suarez

Posted by: americanoneness | March 3, 2009 5:58 PM

When will we be hearing an apology from Chandra Levy's mother for basically calling Condit a murderer, repeatedly? Her grief is no excuse for her slander, in many interviews, of a man who in all likelihood was telling the truth when he said he did not commit the murder.

Posted by: hairguy01 | March 3, 2009 7:11 PM

Another great OOOPPPSSS !!!, the polygraph missed another one. How long is it going to take before the garbage that is the polygraph is removed. Its unreliable, invalid and dangerous. Great detective work solved this case. Not some half brained interrogation prop that is a polygraph. Fry the clown ... too bad he is not eligible for the death penalty.

Posted by: bsmbam | March 3, 2009 7:48 PM

if only they had found the body during the initial search. that was the major blunder by police in this investigation. there likely would have been dna or other forensic evidence which would have brought swifter justice.

Posted by: bog1 | March 3, 2009 7:58 PM

What happens to the "reporters" that tried convicted, and hung Condit, and ran him out of office, when he wasn't even a police suspect? Faux News in particular, lynched this man for months, until 9/11, put the whole overhyped story in perspective.

Posted by: MKM1 | March 3, 2009 8:45 PM

Why is it that DC officials screw up all the time. Failed to interview the two victims attacked in Rock Creek for a considerable period of time; police official screwing up the parameters of the search for Levy's body. On other issues the mess between the Union and Rhee; the mishandling of the assault on the reporter tat cost the reporter his life. I could go on and on. And DC wants statehood status? No way, they should be in a receivership.

Posted by: FairfaxAl | March 3, 2009 11:34 PM

SHAME on the D.C. Police Department. The Levy family and the Media need to send an apology to Rep. Condit.Makes me think of a Senator who left an intern to die in his car and the media and police looked the other way.

Posted by: melindaleekolb | March 4, 2009 4:12 AM

Condit was long ago cleared of any suspicion of committing the crime.
But he was rightly tarred and feathered and sent packing by his constituents because he was having an affair with an intern.

The charge leveled against this defendant has nothing to do with Condit.

Posted by: lennyjazz | March 4, 2009 6:59 AM

I agree with hairguy (I hope you are not a homosexual hair stylist) that it is sheer lunacy to use a polygraph for anything other than bullying a moronic suspect into confessing.

I can guarantee if I was put on the box I could pass any questions such as "Have you recently drank any water?"

Aldrich Ames who is one of the worst American traitors since Benedict Arnold passed polygraph examinations. By "passed" I mean the "examiner's" conclusion was he showed no deception.

Here is a quote from the pig Ames himself:

"Like most junk science that just won't die (graphology, astrology and homeopathy come to mind), because of the usefulness or profit their practitioners enjoy, the polygraph stays with us.

Its most obvious use is as a coercive aid to interrogators, lying somewhere on the scale between the rubber truncheon and the diploma on the wall behind the interrogator's desk. It depends upon the overall coerciveness of the setting -- you'll be fired, you won't get the job, you'll be prosecuted, you'll go to prison -- and the credulous fear the device inspires. This is why the Redmond report ventures into the simultaneously ludicrous and sinister reality that citizens' belief in what is untrue must be fostered and strengthened. Rarely admitted, this proposition is of general application for our national security apparatus."

Posted by: maxj88 | March 8, 2009 12:38 PM

Two questions for the reporters:

1. Did Joe Green interview Guandique in Spanish or did he work with a translator?

2. Why was Guandique moved around the country to several prisons in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and California?

Posted by: jcforrester2gmailcom | March 10, 2009 12:24 PM

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