Piece of clothing found could have been used to bind Chandra Le

Sunday, May 26, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Police have found a knotted piece of clothing with Chandra Levy's remains that could have been used to restrain her, a person close to the investigation said Saturday.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Levy's stretch leggings were used to tie her up, the person said.

"If they conclude she was bound, that would eliminate any possibility other than that she was killed," the source said.

Deputy police chief Terrance W. Gainer on Saturday would not confirm or deny whether leggings had been found. "That shouldn't be shared publicly for two reasons, her parents shouldn't have to read it and some things interrogators want to keep to themselves," he said.

Gainer said police do not have a prime suspect, and have yet to reinterview any of the more 100 people whom they questioned after Levy disappeared on May 1, 2001.

"Everybody is an equal opportunity suspect," he said.

Dr. Jonathan Arden, Washington's medical examiner, has said official word on how Levy died could come as early as Tuesday. But police have said preliminary indications point to murder.

Sixteen dogs trained to find human remains and "a platoon of officers" continued Saturday to search the rugged area of Rock Creek Park where Levy's remains were found earlier in the week, Gainer said.

Even as the search continued, police were poring over what they know of Levy's final hours to try to solve the mystery of how she died.

Police know that Levy, 24, of Modesto, Calif., looked up the park's Klingle Mansion on a Web site, one of more than 30 such sites she visited on May 1, 2001, the last time she used her laptop computer.

What they don't know is whether she was meeting someone, or intending to go out for a walk or a run.

Another question investigators hope to answer from what they find at the scene is how Levy and any potential attacker got to the site -- a strenuous, 100-yard uphill climb or a steep descent a couple of hundred yards from a park road and picnic area. They also are examining whether Levy's body was rolled down the embankment.

"The permutations and variations have some limit, but there are many," Gainer said.

Among the people police may seek to question again are Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., and Ingmar Guandique, convicted in February of assaulting two female joggers in the same park in the weeks after Levy disappeared.

The two women told police they were jogging when a man with a knife grabbed them. Guandique, 20, is serving a 10-year prison sentence.

"Obviously, you'd want to talk to him again," Gainer said. "But no way is he some type of key person to us."

Condit, 54 and married, has acknowledged an affair with Levy, a police source says, but denies any involvement in her disappearance. Police interviewed him four times and repeatedly have said he is not a suspect.

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