Ever since Sept. 11, it should have been obvious that the federal government is unable to protect us against foreign terrorism. With the recent discovery of the grisly remains of 24-year-old intern Chandra Levy in a Washington public park, we should now know that even local government is not only no more competent to protect us against murder but can't even find its victims.
Miss Levy vanished more than a year before her skull was uncovered in Rock Creek Park by the dog of an unnamed private individual who was out hunting turtles. District police combed the same park a year before, but neither they nor the trained dogs they deployed could find the corpse, and for two weeks since the discovery, D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey and his P.R. flacks have busied themselves trying to explain why.
Last year the cops were eloquent on how thorough their searches had been. Last week Chief Ramsey was explaining to the press that of course "it was impossible to search every inch" of the park. "I never meant to say that we searched every inch," and "there are not enough cadaver dogs in the United States to search Rock Creek Park."
No, there aren't, but then it wasn't a cadaver dog that found the body, was it, let alone the police? It was a turtle dog and its private owner.
The investigation of Miss Levy's disappearance was hampered by the refusal of the police to consider her a crime victim at all. For a year they were obliged to sustain the bureaucratic fiction that she was simply "missing."
In fact, it should have been obvious—and was to everyone but the police bureaucracy—what had happened.
Miss Levy had not run off to Pango Pango with a boy friend, nor had she been abducted by UFOs. Logically and seriously, there were only three possibilities:
(1) She chose to disappear (but she had no reason to, and there was no reason to believe she had);
(2) she had an accident (but then her body would have been found much sooner); or
(3) She was murdered, and someone hid the body.
The "someone" on everyone's lips, of course, is her alleged one-time lover, Rep. Gary Condit.
Personally I find that explanation silly. I have never met Mr. Condit, but I do like to think I know something about the American political class of which he seems to be a fairly representative member, and I find it all but impossible to believe that anyone in that class has the strength of character to commit this kind of murder.
These people can pinch their secretary's bottoms all day and pocket bribes from whatever crook happens to walk through the front doors of their offices, but it takes a certain amount of character or what Machiavelli called "spine," guts, whatever you want to name it—to kill someone face to face, clean up the evidence, and then dispose of the body so it won't be found.
In Renaissance Italy political leaders possessed such qualities; ours don't.
I have no idea who killed Miss Levy or why, but I'd take a long, hard look at the chap known as Ingmar Guandique, a Salvadoran now in prison for attacks on two other young women in the same area not long after Miss Levy disappeared.
Chief Ramsey keeps saying Guandique isn't a suspect, that he passed a lie detector test when he was arrested. Frankly, that's not good enough.
Maybe Guandique can prove he was somewhere else when Miss Levy vanished (Mr. Condit can—he was meeting with Vice President Cheney), but short of that, I'd say Guandique belongs at the top of the suspect list. If I were he, I'd do some serious thinking about where I was that day and how to prove it.
Then again, since it's the clueless D.C. cops he has to deal with, maybe he has nothing to worry about.
There's a possibility that someone dumped Miss Levy's remains at the spot where they were found after killing her somewhere else, but the someone would have had to lug her corpse there, and it wouldn't be either safe or easy to do so.
There are also some unanswered questions: Why was she killed just before leaving Washington? Why did she go into the park at all? What happened to her still-missing apartment keys?
My guess is that whoever killed her is now pretty safe and, barring a major, accidental break in the case, we'll hear little more about it as the cops bury it beneath as much red tape as they can weave.
Miss Levy, whatever her flaws, deserved a better fate than the brutal death she suffered, and her death deserves more justice than the police seem capable of delivering.
COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
June 03, 2002