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Arrest in Chandra Levy Case, Slain Intern's Mother Quotes Bialik

By Gabrielle Birkner

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Federal prosecutors Tuesday charged a Salvadoran laborer with the first-degree murder of Washington intern Chandra Levy. The 27-year-old Levy, whose romantic relationship with former Rep. Gary Condit effectively ended the congressman’s career, disappeared while jogging in 2001; her remains were found a year later in the city’s Rock Creek Park.

A U.S. Attorney, Jeffrey Taylor, said that Levy, a Modesto, Calif. native, was a “random victim” of Ingmar Guandique, who is now serving a 10-year sentence for two other Rock Creek Park assaults.

Levy’s great-great-great uncle was the legendary Hebrew-language poet Chaim Nachman 
Bialik. In a 2001 interview with the Forward, Levy’s mother, Susan, quoted some chilling lines penned by Bialik: “Revenge! Revenge! Cursed be he who cries revenge.
 Fit vengeance for the death of a child the devil has not yet conceived.”

The 2001 Forward’s story on Levy can be read in its entirety below:

Poet’s Cry Sears As Bereft Mom Keeps Up Hunt For Lost Intern

Originally Published: May 25, 2001
Republished With Permission at forward.com

By SEAMUS McGRAW
FORWARD CORRESPONDENT

Susan Levy keeps a volume of poetry in her Modesto, Calif. home. It’s an
old, tattered book filled with melancholy odes crafted nearly a century ago in
Russia by her great-great-uncle, the legendary Hebrew poet Chaim Nachman
Bialik, and handed down in her family through the generations.

“Revenge! Revenge!” the poet once wrote. “Cursed be he who cries revenge.
Fit vengeance for the death of a child the devil has not yet conceived.”

Mrs. Levy takes little solace from the words of her kinsman. Not now, anyway. Not when the fate of her 23-year-old daughter, Chandra Ann Levy, abright and driven young Washington intern who vanished late this past month after leaving a downtown health club there, remains a mystery.

“My happiest gift would be that she comes home safe,” Mrs. Levy said.

So far, D.C. Metro Police admit they have few clues to the young woman’s
disappearance, which has gripped the media with a swirl of allegations about
her friendship with a congressman.

Officially, she’s still considered a missing person, said Sgt. Joseph
Gentile, a police spokesman. “There’s no concrete evidence that there’s been
any kind of foul play,” he said. Still, police, who are pursuing the case with 
the FBI and investigators for the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department in 
California, have combed her apartment looking for clues and scoured the banks
of the nearby Potomac River with body-sniffing dogs.

That has done little to ease her mother’s anxiety. “This isn’t the kind
of thing she would do,” Mrs. Levy said Tuesday in a telephone interview from
her home.

Nor has the lack of solid evidence that a crime has been committed done
anything to quell the media furor over the case, much of which has focused on
allegations of a link between Ms. Levy and Rep. Gary Condit. Mr. Condit, a
married, Harley-Davidson riding California Democrat who has described the young
woman as a friend, has put up a 10,000 reward for information leading to her
safe return. An additional 10,000 has been put up by California’s two
senators, Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein. Another 15,000 has been offered
by Ms. Levy’s frantic parents.

So far, neither the reward nor Mrs. Levy’s pleas for her daughter’s safe
return on nationally broadcast television programs, including “Larry King Live”
and NBC’s “Dateline,” have turned up any solid leads.

According to police reports, Ms. Levy, a University of Southern
California graduate student who had spent last semester working as a paid
intern fielding media calls at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, was last seen
April 30 leaving the health club where she is a member. The young woman, who
had at various times entertained thoughts of becoming a sports writer, an FBI
agent, “or maybe joining the CIA,” according to her mother, was scheduled to
return to California within a few days to attend her graduation ceremony.

“We spoke on the phone on April 27,” Mrs. Levy said, adding that her
daughter — though uncertain about her future, and unsure whether she would
return to Washington or seek work back home in California — seemed to be in
generally good spirits. At 10:45 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on May 1, Mrs. Levy
received an e-mail from her daughter. It referred to flight schedules to
California, and in it, Ms. Levy mused that she might consider taking a train
cross-country instead, Mrs. Levy said.

That was the last time she heard from her daughter.

On May 5, Mrs. Levy and her husband, Dr. Robert Levy, contacted
Washington police, who searched their daughter’s DuPont Circle apartment, about
a mile from the White House. Police found the young woman’s bags packed. There
was no sign of a struggle, authorities said. She had just vanished.

But that, said Mrs. Levy, is unthinkable. Growing up, Ms. Levy was
anything but the kind of flighty kid who would just disappear. As a teenager,
she was smitten with the idea of entering law enforcement, and had served as a
Police Explorer. Among her tasks as a 16-year-old was to knock on neighbors’
doors to advise them to get their dogs licensed, Mrs. Levy said. “She knocked
on a lot of our Jewish friends’ doors,” she added.

A stellar and “focused” student, the 5-foot-3-inch Ms. Levy received her
undergraduate degree in journalism in just three years — a nod, her mother
said, to the literary bloodline that goes back to Great-Great-Uncle Chaim. For
a time, Ms. Levy worked two jobs, one with the Modesto Police, the other with
the Modesto Bee, her local newspaper.

Her only concession to adolescent rebellion, Mrs. Levy recalled, came
when, as senior in high school, the raven-haired teenager went out and got a
single rose tattooed behind her right ankle. “You can imagine how I felt about
that,” Mrs. Levy said.

A short time after graduating from San Francisco State University, Ms.
Levy enrolled in a master’s program in political science at the University of
Southern California and served a series of internships, first in Los Angeles
city government, then in the office of California Gov. Gray Davis, and finally,
this past semester, with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

She was drawn to the idea of public service, her mother said. “It’s
really a Jewish thing, tikkun olam,” she said.

In April, not long before she vanished, her internship ended. Ms. Levy
was left to mull over her options, her mother said. She considered going to law
school, or seeking out work with the FBI or other federal law enforcement
agencies.

She had a world full of options, her mother said. There is simply no
reason for her to vanish on her own accord. But the very fact that there would be so little reason for her to
disappear voluntarily has spawned a virtual cottage industry of
rumormongering.

Last week, Ms. Levy’s former newspaper, the Modesto Bee, published a
series of e-mails that Ms. Levy had sent to a friend. The e-mails seem to hint
at a mysterious man with whom the young woman may be romantically involved.

“Everything else here in D.C. is going good, my man will be coming back
here when Congress starts up again; I’m looking forward to seeing him,” Ms.
Levy wrote late this past year in one of the published e-mails.

In another e-mail, Ms. Levy said her boyfriend had paid for her travel 
between Washington and California. “I was sick when I was in Sacramento and I
only got to go home for one night before I flew back to D.C. The nice thing is
that the man I’m seeing took care of my plane ticket!”

Those missives have sparked a torrent of speculation on the television
tabloids and in newspapers across the nation about the identity of the mystery
man. And that angers Mrs. Levy. “I’m not going to talk about those rumors,” she
said. “That’s not going to do anything to get my daughter back.”

Instead, Mr. and Mrs. Levy have spent their time trying to keep the media
focused on the search for their daughter. They wait, they hope and they pray,
most of all that they never have to feel the full fury of the old verse in
Bialik’s book of poems: “Fit vengeance for the death of a child the devil has
not yet conceived.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Gary Condit, Chaim Nachman Bialik, Chandra Levy

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