October 22nd, 2010
10:23 PM ET

Retracing Chandra Levy's steps

Editor's note: For more on this story, watch "Murder in the Capital: The death of Chandra Levy" Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.

It was creepy to think I was retracing what may have been the last steps taken by a beautiful, ambitious young woman, who became a murder victim on this very trail. The leaves were crunching under my feet as they hit the dirt jogging path, I tried to hold the small POV cam steady in my hand - I wanted to show viewers what Chandra Levy saw on her last day alive.

On May 1, 2001, investigators say, Chandra went for a run in this same section of the 1,700-plus-acre Rock Creek Park - it’s like the Central Park of Washington. I couldn’t help but notice, the trail is one of the most beautiful, yet most isolated, parts of Rock Creek.

As I jogged, I tried to imagine what Chandra looked like that day, her last. Confident, energetic, her unruly black hair bobbing in the wind, a Walkman strapped to her arm as she moved deeper and deeper into the woods. Chandra’s thoughts probably were absorbed in the end of her relationship with the man friends say she loved - the powerful congressman she believed would eventually leave his wife and career to be with her. She may have also been thinking about her move back to California, or maybe about that “surprise” she told her aunt she needed to tell her about in an answering machine message - a surprise that would never be revealed. I bet the last thing on Chandra’s mind was some killer hiding on the side of the trail, waiting for her.

I stopped jogging and stood still, examining the woods around me - Did the killer hide behind that tree trunk? Or that one? Ugh, I was creeping myself out! Then, I realized how quiet it was... Strangely quiet, considering how close the park is to such a major city. All I could hear was the leaves and branches rustling as they hit each other while swaying in the wind. It was so beautiful, so peaceful, so eerily quiet. That got me thinking ...

When I finished grabbing the shot I met back up with my crew to conduct an experiment to see how easy it was for Chandra to disappear on that trail. We placed a photographer near the start of the path, by the main road - the most likely place anyone would have been, had they been around the day Chandra was killed.

I followed the trail 200 yards into the woods. Then, the photographer at the entrance started rolling his camera.

From my position, I screamed "Help! Help!" at the top of my lungs several times, then jogged back to the photographer.

"Did you hear me, Did you hear me?” I asked.

He looked at me, surprised. "It didn’t sound anything like screaming. You sounded like a bird off in the distance.”

He put his headphones over my ears and replayed the tape. I heard two faint cries, my desperate screams had blended in with the sounds of nature. Immediately, I got chills on my arms. If no one could hear me, how would anyone have heard Chandra ... ?

Post by:
Filed under: Chandra Levy • Crime
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. Exposo

    This happened 10 years ago. If she had been a Jones, a Li or a Gonzalez it would all be forgotten news. Enough of these Jewish interest stories.

    October 24, 2010 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul


      You are half right: No one would care if she were Hispanic. But, it's not because she was Jewish, but because she was white. He she were a black Jew, no one would care.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Stephen

    CNN = Clinton News Network

    October 24, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Randy Treadway

    You guys keep saying this is just a blog post. Where does it say that at the top of the article? It doesn't. Maybe the author *intended* it as a blog, but then CCN posted it in their mainline news. The main criticism is CNN.
    Most sites put a 'blog' label up at the top, and sometimes 'the opinions are the author's not that of this network'.... that sort of thing.
    In the absence of any such disclaimers, we have to assume that standards of journalism should apply.

    October 24, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. Elle

    I must agree with the others that this article is no more than a first draft, at best. Where is the guiding editor who can take this young woman in hand, point out the weaknesses, redundancies and inappropriate word usage ("creepy" and "creeped out" for example), the lack of supporting information and wandering, unfocused structure. This writer has a long way to go and really should be far better at her age if she is aiming at a career as a journalist. But again, the editor is responsible to CNN itself and is tasked to uphold the quality and readability of the articles. So this to me is an editorial failure, whether from laziness or ignorance of the editor's duties.

    October 24, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. Henry

    CNN and Amber Lyons really need to find better ways to spend time and resources than on stupid crap like this story. Ms. Levy broke common sense rule number one of being alone in a secluded place (this is particullary dumb for a young and attractive woman), and it's a fair bet that she was using ear-phones. Is this a "blame the victim" thing? No. It's another victim due to failure to use common sense. Her situation happens time, and time again, and I'm sick of hearing about it; and I'm especially sickened at the sappy sensationalized presentatoin of "last steps." Though I'm wasting my time writing this, I did not bother to wast time viewing the story – it was described to me, and I can prettly well predict that the level of jounalistic quality is pretty darn poor.

    October 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bird

    There are many things to be bitter and jaded about these days, but that's no excuse to knock cosmetologists and food service workers. You may end up having to do that yourself one day, no matter what your background.

    CNN hasn't been a legitimate news source since the mid-80s. If you want to know what's really going on in the world–and if you can take it, go to TheRealNews or AlJazeera online. Those sources cover events without opinions.

    October 24, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ike

    This article sucks!!!!!

    October 25, 2010 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. Really?

    A side trip into sensationalism worthy of the National Inquirer rather than CNN.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. ash

    OK i take that back the video didn't open for me earlier .. amber lyons kinda hot and has a great voice. i take back what i said earlier.. but the article is still extremely kiddish 😉

    October 25, 2010 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. DD

    Juveniley written, nowhere is the 5 W's of journalism.

    October 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dan

    Meh- she was sleeping with another woman's husband. She didn't deserve to die, but she doesn't top the list of people I feel badly for.

    October 25, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6