On September 11 2001, conservative political commentator and former federal prosecutor Barbara Olson boarded a morning flight bound for Los Angeles.
Ms. Olson was set to appear on Bill Maher’s talk show to discuss the case of missing intern 24-year-old Chandra Levy, a disappearance which had dominated headlines ever since she disappeared from her Washington D.C. apartment on May 1.
For Barbara, the investigation had become a source of particular interest due to Chandra’s rumored affair with democratic congressman Gary Condit. Many conservatives viewed the scandal as an opportunity to flip Gary’s seat in the next election cycle.
Before the controversy erupted, Condit was a well-liked politician from Modesto, California, the same place where Levy coincidentally grew up. Gary’s district was often referred to as “Condit Country,” a testament to his incredible popularity.
Now the tables had turned and Barbara was confident the congressman had something to do with Levy’s disappearance. Talking with Bill and his millions of viewers would be another opportunity to voice her suspicions, which she repeatedly expressed to Larry King back in July.
Further strengthening the cloud of doubt surrounding Condit, Barbara told Larry:
“I don’t think all the evidence is conclusive about Mr. Condit. I think we have a lot of unanswered questions. We wish we had them… it would be nice if Gary Condit would come forward and tell us, why, the last time he saw Chandra Levy was questioned about it, supposedly, he didn’t remember if they were intimate.”
Unfortunately for Olson, she never got the chance to talk with Maher. At 9:37, Barbara’s flight crashed into the Pentagon about an hour after it took off.
It goes without saying that 9/11 ended the tireless coverage of Chandra’s case. The media’s focus immediately shifted to the carnage of that day, the war that followed, and our post 9/11 world.
Now that the 15th anniversary of Levy’s disappearance is just around the corner, the investigation is back in the spotlight once again.
In honor of the anniversary, here’s a breakdown of the major players in the case and all the legal developments that transpired following the discovery of her remains in Rock Creek Park a year after she vanished.
Where the case stands today
In July 2016, the man convicted of murdering Chandra had his 60-year sentenced revoked after it was revealed a jailhouse informant lied about his supposed confession. Ingmar Guandique had already served 10 years of the sentence at the time of the shocking ruling.
While prosecutors felt there wasn’t enough substantial evidence to retry Guandique, they were able to convince a judge to deport him back to his native home of El Salvador.
What’s especially frustrating about the release is the fact that it took almost a decade to convict someone in the first place, an opinion which was reiterated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines who conceded there were many “missteps” in the investigation.
Chandra’s mother, Susan Levy, reacted to the news with the following statement:
“I hope that we find the right person, that if it was Guandique, that he doesn’t go on and do anything else to other people.”
After Chandra’s disappearance, Condit lost his seat in congress and left office in 2003. The ex-politician then went on to open two Baskin-Robbins locations with his wife Carolyn Berry, both of which failed. It’s interesting to note that Baskin-Robbins was one of the last searches Levy made on her computer before the murder.
As of now, the 68-year-old works as the president of the Phoenix Institute of Desert Agriculture in addition to authoring a book about the scandal titled, Actual Malice: A True Crime Political Thriller.
In late October of this year, Gary took to the Dr. Phil show to promote the work and once again deny any sexual relationship with Chandra, arguing:
“I think it was twice she came by. Once again, I want to make this clear: There’s nothing unusual about someone coming by my condo. A lot of people did. People have made some speculation that that means something special … Both times she had a valid reason to come by.”
Condit’s continued denials are in direct conflict with FBI evidence of his semen at Levy’s apartment, numerous late night calls between the two, and testimony from the victim’s family.
Grandique’s acquittal is exceptionally difficult for Susan her husband Robert Levy. Not only does it reignite questions they thought were answered, but it also means their daughter’s killer remains at large.
To make the Levy’s plight even worse, they’ve now been dragged into Gary’s image rehabilitation tour.
In response to Condit’s book and latest claims, Susan shot back in an interview with The Modesto Bee:
“… It’s about his ego, his own gratification, to get out of the hole he put himself into.”
The grieving mother also told the Today Show:
”It wasn’t a made-up thing, they weren’t just good friends. I know otherwise, because I did talk to my daughter, and I found out who she was dating secretively because I was able to guess it.”
In honor of her daughter, Mrs. Levy now works with the Wings of Protection, a victims advocacy group.