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. J Mc

    Amanda, please note, this story was originally presented as a lead article on CNN's homepage, not as a blog.

    October 24, 2010 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. Eva H

    Believe it or not, Amber Lyon is a general assignment correspondent based in CNN's Headquarters in Atlanta, GA, where she covers regional assignments and breaking news. This is painful!

    October 24, 2010 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  3. BJ

    Where's the rest of it?

    October 24, 2010 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    I'm sorry but this is just sick. This would be appropriate on TMZ or the Inquirer,but CNN. TMZ and Inquirer would actually have a better chance of figuring out who murdered this girl than this princess. They seem to have better luck at this type of news than CNN. CNN should just stick with their Clinton and Obama love fest.

    October 24, 2010 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. mdamone

    Wow – GREAT story, CNN! Sounded like birds off in the distance – another mystery solved! Pure fact-based reporting genius! If wasting cyberspace were a crime, CNN would be on death row, right behiind 'E'. Except they admit their stories are b. crap.

    October 24, 2010 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. Phil

    I thought I was reading part of a lost script of Blair Witch Project.

    October 24, 2010 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. muffdiver

    Chandra is a dumb ho ho ho !!!! What, Jewish!!! Married man!!! Loves him!!! Hopes marry him!!! It's easier for ahmandinijad to leave his nuclear ambition than for the dud to leave his wife!!!

    October 24, 2010 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. Lucky In Love

    Chandra Levy was not in the deep woods of Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC by pure "accident." In fact, someone had arranged for her to meet him there. I recall reading in 2001 shortly after it was discovered she was missing and presumed dead, that on her personal computer in her apartment (nearby where her keys were left), the last search she had performed was to find the location of a certain historical and beautiful mansion in that same park. So someone was to meet her there, and she took the shortcut through the thick, deep woods, straight from her apartment to the site. Next stop a professional hit, and her life was snuffed out. So sorry, RIP young lady. Whoever did this to you, may they still be brought to swift justice!

    October 24, 2010 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
    • e

      because she wanted to see something pretty on her jog it must have been a rendezvous and a professional murder? That is ludicrous! I google things I want to see while walking all the time, people like having variety in their routines. That park is full of crazy people who know that the paths are secluded and that local coeds ignore the danger. Other women vanished in there around the same time.
      Saying you read something somewhere 1 years ago is no proof of anything, especially with the amount of ridiculous conjecture that happened at the time.

      October 24, 2010 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. Raleigh

    You article is an example of excellent journalism. Personable, objective, and informative. Thank you for expounding upon the travials of something as simple as walking 200 ft into a park. Good fyi.

    October 24, 2010 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. Raleigh

    Excellent journalism. Vital information relayed for the public. Written in modern fast-text language. Quick to the point. Grasping readers attention long enough to relay vital info.

    October 24, 2010 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bengus81

    I'd forgot that it was as early as May in 2001 because FOX and especially O'Reilly were still bashing and accusing Condit until the events of 9/11 took the story away. I always thought that Condit should have sued FOX,they were going way beyond just reporting this story and into accusations.

    October 24, 2010 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bengus81

    Yeah...FOX could have done SO much better writing this article. Oh... wait,sorry they don't care that she got MURDERED when it was found out that Condit didn't have a thing to do with it.

    October 24, 2010 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. e

    The point of this article is being missed, it is to sell the video. Beyond that, the reason for this part of the story is that so few people understand the park she vanished in. I used to live in the same building as her, when she vanished while jogging the first thing I said was that she was a jogger who got killed in the park. That park is huge, dense and dangerous in ways that people who have not been in it cannot really understand, it is not like Central Park at all, Central Park is large and OPEN, Rock Creek barely has paths in dense woods and people are attacked there all the time.

    October 24, 2010 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. The Murderer is Still Out There

    Anyone account for Newt Gingrich's whereabouts that day?

    October 24, 2010 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. Lil' Griz

    What a Load of Bollocks!!!!!

    October 24, 2010 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6