UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

February 23, 2009

THE CHANDRA LEVY CASE REOPENS

Progressive Review - The projected charges in the Chandra Levy murder may close the matter, but you would be wise to limit your bets for awhile. The eight year old case has had more than its share of anomalies, contradictions and incompetence. Further, the Levy murder came at the end of a curious decade of Washington deaths marked by unanswered questions and conclusions lacking in convincing finality.

Those who have raised doubts about official conclusions in these cases have often been called conspiracy theorists, even when merely noting anomalies. Further, the media has tended to treat each of these cases as isolated incidents, even though - as in the Levy case - there were at least possible ties to other crimes.

Our approach has been to note inconsistencies in these cases while avoiding unsupported conclusions. In newly reviewing past coverage of the Levy matter, for example, we were surprised to see that the reported suspect, Ingmar Guandique (convicted of two sexual assaults in Rock Creek Park near the Levy death scene), passed a lie detector case many years ago. And it is fair to at least wonder whether Guandique is being used to close a case that might be otherwise be embarrassing to some in power. It would not be the first time a convict has been used in this manner.

What follows are some of the interesting, little noted aspects of the Levy case followed by brief mentions of other deaths during the capital's curiously fatal decade of 1991-2001.

Levy Case

Levy had looked
up the National Park Service headquarters - aka the Klingle Mansion - on the Internet as one of her last known acts in her Dupont Circle apartment. Her body was found about a mile north of the mansion, which is about three miles from her apartment.

Levy's apartment
was about four blocks from the former home of Joyce Chaing who had previously been found murdered in federal parkland in the capital. Chaing was last seen on an urban street corner in Dupont Circle.

Police did not search
Levy's apartment for nine days.

Her body was found about three weeks after her disappearance by a man walking his dog despite an extensive police search of the area nearby. They claimed they had not searched the part where the body was discovered because of its remoteness.

Earlier stories

Progressive Review, 2002 - There remain possibilities. For example, if, as some have alleged, there is a tie - either direct or coincidental - between this case and powerful individuals and their activities, there is a considerable probability that the case will never be solved or that a straw perpetrator will be charged with the crime. For example, some stories have suggested a connection with an S&M sex ring in which a number of well-known individuals are believed to have participated. As USA Today's Tom Sequeri put it delicately, there are "dark aspects of this story that we can't report yet." This is the sort of thing that Washington is highly skilled at covering up and in this case there may be more than adequate motive, especially since the DC police were badly embarrassed in 1997 by revelations of the practice of "fairy shaking." . . .

The just jogging theory is countered by the terrain. Writes the Washington Times: "Tansy Blumer, 59, who lives on Davenport Road about 100 yards west of where the body was found, said the two-lane, winding road is not a typical jogging path. 'There are no sidewalks or shoulders,' she said. 'It's not a big jogging area. You can walk on park trails, but they are difficult and not well-known trails, and they are definitely not for running."

One of the leads being investigated in the Chandra Levy case is that Levy was murdered by a professional hit man involved in the local gay S&M scene. Whether or not this proves to be the case, the mere possibility has created unusual problems on Capitol Hill and for the DC police. We hear that some big names on the Hill are extremely nervous at the moment - not because of the Levy mystery itself but because what such a solution might reveal. The MPD could also face possible blowback because of its involvement a few years back in a major gay blackmail scandal, perhaps involving some of the same players. Make no mistake about it. This is a big case. One classic solution would be to declare it a suicide or to find someone - such as a criminal already facing a murder rap - to take the fall as part of a plea bargain.

William Walker, Toronto Star - Washington police also revealed they are investigating the possibility 24-year-old Chandra Levy may have been slain by a professional killer skilled in the disposal of bodies . . . Levy's purse, wallet, personal identification and credit cards were all left in her apartment, along with a laptop computer and her packed bags prepared for a return trip home to attend her University of Southern California graduation ceremony. All that was missing from her apartment were her keys. Police found no signs of a struggle or forced entry and nothing was stolen.

[Chief Charles] Ramsey confirmed that although Levy was last seen April 30, a search of her laptop computer revealed that she was on the Internet visiting travel Web sites the next day, on May 1, for about three hours up until 1 p.m. . . . [Levy family lawyer] Martin said his own investigation, conducted on behalf of the Levy family by two retired Washington homicide detectives, indicates the young woman went to meet someone she knew. "For some reason, Chandra appears to have been lured, called, or brought out of the apartment expecting to return,'' Martin said.

James Risen & Raymond Bonner, NY Times - Washington police investigating the disappearance of the government intern Chandra Ann Levy have found no evidence that would link her case to other recent missing-person cases involving young women in the capital, law enforcement officials said today. In particular, investigators for the Metropolitan Police Department have reviewed two cases involving women whose bodies were recovered in the Washington area, Joyce Chiang and Christine M. Mirzayan. Ms. Chiang, a 28-year-old lawyer at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, disappeared in January 1999, after last being seen in the Dupont Circle area, a few blocks from where Ms. Levy, 24, lived. Her body was discovered three months later on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, but the authorities were never able to determine the cause of death. Ms. Mirzayan, a 28-year-old intern at the National Research Council in Washington, disappeared on Aug. 1, 1998. Her body was found in a wooded area near Georgetown University the next day. Her head had been crushed. No one has been arrested in either case. There are some striking similarities between those cases and the Levy one. All three women were Californians in their 20's and had similar physical characteristics. Like Ms. Levy, Ms. Mirzayan was an intern, while Ms. Chiang lived in the same neighborhood as Ms. Levy.

Sam Smith, Progressive Review, 2001 - The possibility that the Levy case has exposed some form of group sex on Capitol Hill - whether involving call girls or faith-based voluntary activity - would go a long way towards explaining the strange way everyone seems to be acting. It might explain the desire of the DC police to keep the Modesto cops from pursuing their own investigation. It might explain the disappearance of not only Chandra Levy but the days it took the MPD to get around to checking out Gary Condit's pad. . .

One may take the view that all sex is good sex. This ignores, among other things, the blackmail factor. More importantly, it is probable that politicians are blackmailed not just by domestic opponents but by foreign lands. There are some reports that both the Russians and the Israelis knew about Monica Lewinsky before Americans did. Intelligence investigator Peter Dale Scott thinks that international blackmail and sex with politicians is "an ongoing, highly organized, and protected operation" that has "driven the major scandals of Washington since at least the beginning of the Cold War."

Scott has also suggested that the mob and lobbyists use call girls for blackmail. As is the case with stories such as those involving BCCI and the Mena drug operations, everyone involved has something to lose by public exposure of the real story of sex and power in Washington. Hence politics stops at the sex organ's edge and the system works together to get things back under control: Republicans, Democrats, and the law. Don't forget the DC police department's ultimate employer is the U.S. Congress. And so the endemic is reduced to an isolated incident and life moves on. Like I say, this is only an hypothesis, but it would not be surprising if a young intern on Capitol Hill were to enter a relationship for sex or love and find herself in the midst of something far deeper. Just something to keep in mind.

Other deaths 1991 - 2001

1991

Investigative journalist
Danny Casolaro allegedly committed suicide in a bathtub of a Martinsburg WV motel, but doubts have been raised concerning the incident.

1993

Although
the death of Vince Foster has been officially ruled a suicide, there are a number of unanswered questions about the case, such as how he got to Fort Marcy Park in his car without any car keys and conflicts in various witness testimony. The ignored evidence, however, offers no convincing argument of how, where or why Foster died, only that the death - whether murder or suicide - probably didn't occur at the park.

1996

Chief of Naval Operations Jeremy Boorda apparently shoots himself. Neither the autopsy results not the suicides were ever released. The popular explanation was that he was embarrassed over reports that he wore medals that he didn't deserve. CNO Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, who commanded Boorda in Vietnam, supported Boorda's right to wear the medals but in 1998, after his death, the Board for the Correction of Naval Records said he was not entitled to do so.

The deaths of Boorda and Foster were the first reported suicides of high U.S. officials in over 40 years.

Former CIA Director William Colby died, allegedly in a boating accident, but the retired CIA head had left his home unlocked, his computer on, and a partly eaten dinner on the table.

1997

Washington Post - A type of extortion scheme known crudely as "fairy shaking" led to the arrest of a D.C. police lieutenant and toppled the police chief of the nation's capital. It's quite simple as extortion goes: Trail a married man out of a gay sex club. Take his license plate number. And later threaten to expose him unless he pays hush money. The term "fairy shaking" needs no definition within certain circles of the D.C. police department: A few rogue cops have been doing it for years and getting away with it, several law enforcement sources said. And it stands at the center of the case against Lt. Jeffery S. Stowe, until recently the roommate of D.C. Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby . . .

It's common knowledge that men go to the clubs that line a secluded block in Southeast Washington -- clubs such as the Follies Theater and La Cage -- to relax, listen to music and have sex . . . In September, someone was watching for the most vulnerable among them. The observer noted which parked cars had baby seats and bore other evidence of the straight, married life. And he wrote down the license plate numbers. In the days that followed, three men who were married with children received anonymous letters saying they had been photographed at the gay sex clubs. The letters demanded $10,000 cash from each in exchange for keeping their secrets. This wasn't your typical, everyday extortionist, authorities say. He knew the extortion game better than almost anyone in town. He was, according to an arrest affidavit, Lt. Jeffery S. Stowe, commander of a D.C. police unit that investigates extortion and other crimes. Within two hours of Stowe's arrest last Tuesday, his best friend on the force resigned: Chief Soulsby.

Progressive Review, 2000 - The handling of the 1997 Starbucks murder case continues to raise eyebrows. Why, of all the 301 slayings that took place in DC that same year, did only these three killings attract the attention not only of the FBI but of Attorney General Reno herself? Reno has overruled her own US Attorney and called for the death penalty in the case. There are two reasonable explanations for the federal intrusion in the case. One is that the murders took place in Georgetown, home of some of the city's most powerful residents. The second is that one of the victims was formerly a White House intern, Mary Caitrin Mahoney, allegedly familiar with some of the licentious activities occurring there.

While there is no concrete evidence that Mahoney was specifically targeted, the heavy involvement of the federal government in what it claims was a routine murder case inevitably raises questions. The appearance of Reno, the Miss Fixit of Clinton crime and corruption investigations, is even less reassuring. Reno squashed investigations into drug and gubernatorial payoff aspects of the Department of Agriculture case, has never bothered to go after Webb Hubbell for the taxes he owes, and has repeatedly undermined the work of special prosecutors and congressional investigators. . .

Questions have arisen about the circumstances under which Carl Derek Cooper confessed to the Starbucks slaying in which former White House intern Caitlin Mahoney and two other workers were killed. Cooper was questioned for many hours, denied being involved, then accused someone else, and then confessed, only to recant his confession after being released by suburban Prince George's County police and returning to DC.

1998

Sandy Hume,
a Washington journalist, committed suicide in a seedy suburban motel. According to the Jerusalem Post, "the brilliant 28-year-old journalist" killed himself, "as the story goes," over a homosexual affair with "a senior Republican [member of Congress and] confirmed supporter of Israel."

1999

Wikipedia -
On the day of [Joyce] Chiang's disappearance, she had met with several friends for a movie and dinner, and one of those friends offered Joyce a ride home. Joyce asked her friend to make one quick stop at the Starbucks at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue NW and R Street NW. Joyce told her friend that she would walk the four blocks home from the coffee shop, but she never made it to her apartment. Because Joyce was a federal employee, the FBI took the lead in investigating the case. A couple walking through Anacostia Park the next day found Chiang's billfold and turned it in to park police, who filed it in the park's lost and found. Four days later, the couple recognized Chiang's photo in media coverage and alerted the FBI, who arranged a search of the park and discovered her apartment keys, video and grocery cards, and gloves. The jacket in which Chiang was last seen was also found, torn down the back. Three months later and eight miles away, a canoeist on the Potomac River found a badly decomposed body later identified through DNA analysis as Chiang's. The cause of death could not be determined, and the case is considered a cold case. . . . Chiang had lived four blocks away from where murder victim Chandra Levy would live, in Dupont Circle. . . The Starbucks where Chiang was last seen was later frequented by Levy.

2000

John Millis,
staff director of the Staff Director of the US House Select Committee on Intelligence was found dead of a gunshot wound in a motel in Vienna, Virginia on June 3, 2000.

That same month, a CIA intelligence analyst, John Muskopf, 28, was killed while walking with friends when a car drove up and someone inside shot him.

Carlos Ghigliotti: 42, was found dead in his office just outside of Washington D.C. Ghigliotti, a thermal imaging analyst hired by the House Government Reform Committee to review tape of the Waco siege, had said he determined the FBI fired shots during the incident. Ghigliotti said the tapes also confirm the Davidians fired repeatedly at FBI agents during the assault, which ended when flames raced through the compound.

2001

Chandra Levy is murdered

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