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. eeeeediot

    I can't believe that this article made it past an editor, let alone on to the front page of cnn.com

    This is really poorly written.

    October 23, 2010 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
    • SickandTired

      i agree

      October 23, 2010 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe M

      This "article" has the insight and penmanship of a curious 14-year-old. The real new item here is how low CNN has fallen.

      October 23, 2010 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Tex

      Fully agree – and sort of in poor taste, though I can't put my finger on what makes it so. Maybe the "high school -like" "dramatic journalism" style that it's written in.

      October 23, 2010 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • OMG

      I thought the same...what a terrible terrible terrible article! What's happening to CNN? I'm losing respect guys...seriously.

      October 23, 2010 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Shara

      I agree as well...It's interesting, but I wish it had a bit more detail of WHO Chandra Levy is for those of us who might have been non-news-reading teenagers at the time. It's frustrating. I don't have TIME to look it up, just tell me in 3 sentences who she was, who the congressman was, when she was killed, maybe some other relevant details. That would be helpful 😛

      October 23, 2010 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Indeed, CNN content is trending downward. There seems to be an ever dissolving line between CNN and the inquirer.

      October 23, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • C

      This blog, article, whatever its supposed to be, is so poorly written and sensationalist its borderline offensive. "Ugh I was creeping myself out!" Seriously, is the writer a thirteen year old who happened to forget that someone was murdered here?

      October 23, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • keburg

      "This "article" has the insight and penmanship of a curious 14-year-old."

      "Penmanship"? Do you even know what that word means? Yes, the story is poorly written, but what does it have to do with penmanship?

      October 23, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • alumette

      This reporter qualifies to be a soap opera writer. The article is....well....fiction.

      October 23, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Two comments:

      1. This article was very infornmative and well done. Thank you CNN for some real news, and not the usual garbage.
      2. Her murderer was found and it was solved. The Congressman, Gary Condit, who was so maligned was not guilty after all.

      October 23, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • jc

      Yes, very poorly written article. Hope the author doesn't take these comments personally, just learn from it or something...

      October 23, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neena

      You guys, stop freaking out. It's not a news article genii, it's a blog post. Get over yourselves, try to understand the what the writer is trying to say.

      October 23, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Hey everybody, this is just a blog post, not the actual story. I saw the actual story tonight on CNN and it was great! This story has again come to the forefront of the media with the pending trial. Well done, Amber. Thanks for bringing back Chandra's memory.

      October 23, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Why is this women prancing around and smiling when reporting about a cold blooded murder? She is at a crime scene, but she is treating it like an NFL sideline. Awful, and I like CNN

      October 23, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      As I retraced the steps where great journalists had once tread, I kind of creeped myself out. What was Amber Lyon thinking the day she thought she should become a writer? Was cosmetology school too expensive? Was Taco Bell not hiring? But my screams were absorbed by the mewling masses who wouldn't know Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite if he jumped out of the woods and grabbed them.

      October 24, 2010 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      As I retraced the steps where great journalists had once tread, I kind of creeped myself out. What was Amber Lyon thinking the day she thought she should become a writer? Was cosmetology school too expensive? Was Taco Bell not hiring? But my screams were absorbed by the mewling masses who wouldn't know Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite if they jumped out of the woods and grabbed them.

      October 24, 2010 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • J.Veronica

      Yes,...it was a gripping bit of news. The camera man could not hear her because he was too busy crying that he had to work with that eeeeediot on such a new and insightful piece.

      October 24, 2010 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hilo Hattie

    THIS JUST IN...

    Chandra Levy's unsolved murder is tragic. This "article" does nothing to shed light on the matter except to illustrate what has been known for nearly ten years; that Ms. Levey was in an isolated place when she was killed.

    And now a nearly 10-minute YouTube clip is in the comment area as a response?? CNN has become a complete and pathetic journalistic joke.

    And you know what? CNN won't have the "family jewels" to post my comment.

    October 23, 2010 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
    • SickandTired

      We know where she was killed? All we know is where her remains were found. It's unknown where she was killed.

      October 23, 2010 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Grace

      Uhh - the murder *was* solved . . .

      October 23, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • anne

      The article does nothing except give an amateur writer a chance to pretend she is a tragic, romantic figure and "creep herself" out while cameras are rolling....pathetic and disrespectful to the deceased.

      October 23, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. maryann

    thought this murder WAS solved??

    October 23, 2010 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. Joe

    Miss levy's murder is a terrible thing to have happened to a young girl. If I remember correctly people like Nancy Grace and others like her, blamed the politician, who she was working for and sleeping with, ruining his political career, when he really really had nothing to do with it. I doubt he got an apology either. So much for innocent until proven guilty!

    October 23, 2010 at 5:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Maya2007

      He should not have slept with her in the first place....

      October 23, 2010 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
    • SickandTired

      I don't believe for a second that Condit doesn't have anything to do with it. You condemn people for saying people are guilty before proven. Now I condemn you for saying he's innocent when you don't know that. Only the actual killer knows the truth (and God)......(.and in this case Condit who hired him)

      October 23, 2010 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Jink

      Oh gosh, g-wiz Condit did a very good job at ruining his career.

      October 23, 2010 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. jennifer davey

    Gary Condit lied again and again about Chandra, impeding what could have been an otherwise fruitful investigation about what REALLY happened to her. Instead of telling the truth and leading investigators to clear him very early on, he lied and put up smokescreens, effectively causing investigators to focus on HIM, instead of looking for the real killer. The whole thing is really unfortunate, because no one will ever know if other young women died by the same killer, and no justice was able to be given to Chandra or her family.

    October 23, 2010 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
    • bernardo7092

      CNN Has been circling the drain for a long time......lets next rehash ojay sampson and the bostonian strangler cases....

      October 23, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jennifer

    CNN, I don't want to read someone's B.S.- Blog. If i did, I'd hang out on blogspot all day. Could you please stop tricking me into reading these lame blog posts with the illusion that they might have some relevant information in them. I'm trying to keep up with the ACTUAL news. It's a shame what happened to Levy, but this is not a news article and how do you think her friends and family feel when they read this crap. Have some respect or I'm going to have to change my homepage. Your methods of "reporting" are starting to get ridiculous.

    October 23, 2010 at 6:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe M

      For content like this, I'll start to turn to a local high school's newsletter. I think they write better!

      October 23, 2010 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
    • jenny b

      Agree

      October 24, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. devon

    for politicians nothing has to be provven.the gov. Doesnt want to admit the fact that our leaders are regular mess ups like the rest of us.

    October 23, 2010 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. Lisa

    Tragically, 9/11 is what happened. For obvious reasons, at that time, the focus for everyone changed.

    October 23, 2010 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. Lisa

    The murder was solved. The accused is on trial in DC at this time.

    October 23, 2010 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
    • keburg

      "The murder was solved. The accused is on trial in DC at this time."

      If the murder is solved, why is there a trial?

      October 23, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • e

      why is there a trial? Because this is America and that is how the law works, no matter how much evidence there is, every single person gets a trial and legal representation.

      October 23, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SickandTired

    I don't think this scenario painted by the writer is ANYTHING like what really happened. Her keys were still at home. She was about to tell her aunt a big secret–perhaps that she was pregnant with scrawny Condit's love child? That would've given him a sense of urgency to have her snuffed. I don't think he personally did it.....because Chandra would have kicked his butt. But, I absolutely believe he hired a hitman. This guy on trial is just a Fall Guy.

    October 23, 2010 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
    • TiredandSick

      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.

      How about condit's wife that chanda believed that condit would eventually leave to be with her? Was she also included in the investigation? This could be a crime of HATE and REVENGE.

      October 23, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rudy

    And a congressman's life was destroyed in the process. I have never watched Nancy Grace again. Her vitriolic accusations, assumptions and conjenctures were a confirmation that spiteful people should not be given a megaphone.

    October 23, 2010 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. J McKeel

    Is CNN using high school journalists now?

    October 23, 2010 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  13. Myleeza

    Truly sad that poor girl deserves more than faux justice God rest her soul!

    October 23, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. Dezertgal

    What was the point of this story?

    October 23, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. MD

    What a juvenile "article"–not to mention disrespectful. It should be taken down immediately.

    October 23, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
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