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 ... ?

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Filed under: Chandra Levy • Crime
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. aymee

    This article was intriguing! It takes on a different perspective, its a teaser to the full story! Everyone please open your minds to different story telling!

    October 23, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Eye-full

    It appears that this reporter hasn't done any background research regarding this case. He/She is echoing the false conclusions that the media has come to regarding the murder of Chandra Levy. There has been no evidence publicized that the date of her murder was the same day or day after she was last seen at her gym. As a matter-of-fact, some investigators believe that Guandique was already in custody at the time and date of the actuual murder. In addition, Chandra had been a poiice explorer scout and was very safety conscious, so she wouldn't have gone into the woods like that without her cell phone, etc.. Moreover, she was not a jogger and it was far too hot to be jogging in leggings and a t-shirt in the D.C. heatwave at the time of her disappearance.

    October 23, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Give it a rest

    It is obvious that the comments on this are the same person using different names. You must work for Fox.

    October 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pete

    The last time we focused on Chandra Levy – was just before 9/11 – why the fascination now? She's gone, she's dead, it's tragic, let it go!

    October 23, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Maureen

    Did anyone imagine how her parents, relatives or close friends would feel if they read this article. Not much sensitivity on the part of the CNN crew. If the writer thinks they are being sensitive by reliving her death, think again.

    October 23, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mona ven Lisa Gembek

    Condit with his crooked conduit wanted to be in paradise with Chandra. He thought he was god. The truth is that if he had nothing to do with young Chandra’s death and he was an innocent man, with his political power he should have been the one to campaign and find the killer of Chandra. This is a lesson for genuine and innocent all interns in their tender years and their parents to think about. I am not talking about selfish Lewinsky type rotten interns. By the way, where is the sucker Condit to be the convict after exposed?

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

      interns are also 22 year old women, hardly innocent little babies.

      October 24, 2010 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sherlock

    CNN started out all right. But like most cable "news" it's now officially tasteless, (this article) insufferable (Alex Wit) and of little journalistic value. My God, my kingdom for news that's been confirmed three ways . . .

    October 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lisa

    Hey everybody, this is just a blog, not the actual story. This does answer my question in my mind as to how nobody heard anything on that dreadful day. I saw the story tonight on CNN and it was well-done and informative! This is a trial that is again moving to the forefront of the news media. Thanks Amber for keeping Chandra's precious memory alive!

    October 23, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. blue

    I remember back when this was the big story of the day until a little something called 9/11 happened. Surprising it took this long to resurface.

    October 23, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dee

    I like this article- it's real life.

    October 23, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mary

    This article is creepy! sounds like horror book... Only that the author sucks. I do feel for Chandra though.. young, smart ambitious... how selfish is her killer.

    October 23, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. L. Guapo

    Maybe CNN can hire that guy NPR just canned for unauthorized fraternization with the enemy? Has anybody called George Soros up to see if he would fund a copy editor? Maybe when congress reconvenes after the elections they can fund CNN the same way they do NPR? Personally I think a lot of the function is redundant. Maybe a merger is in order? Instead of NPR and CNN, we'll have 'NPNN', "National Propaganda News Network".

    Is the reporter related to somebody influential? I can't imagine why they'd publish a story this lame.

    October 23, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. RightTurnClyde

    The DC cops were aid to have searched this park with a fine toothed comb (dogs - everything) and yet .. what? They could not find her body? Then one day much later her body turns up. Now they are stumbling over themselves with the murder/ Well maybe the are good at writing reports on ho hard they looked (etc.) Bear in mind it would not have saved her. But the Washington PD is as shoddy as everything else in that town. Big talk – shoddy delivery.

    October 23, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • e

      you obviously have never been in this park. It is impossible to search every surface, it is thousands of acres of deep thick woods.

      October 24, 2010 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. jaxie

    Everyone was quick to blame Condit. However, this young woman knew exactly what she was doing and had a particular goal in mind - marrying a married man. I'm sorry her life ended. However, she is not without blame when it comes to the congressman.

    October 23, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jen

    is this "story" (blog) a clear example that news is a changed word...yes. was this story well written...not at all.
    but let's all keep in mind that no one is perfect. maybe CNN had lack of judgement here; maybe it was a slow news day; maybe they wanted to honor Chandra's death as a favor requested by her loved ones. who knows? and honestly, why do you all care so much? if everyone, including CNN writers, editors, etc aren't allowed a break to make the occasional bad judgement call, i find that sad. we're all so harsh to each other. relax!

    October 23, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
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