When it comes to the 2001 disappearance and subsequent murder mystery surrounding Washington, D.C., intern Chandra Levy, legendary investigative crime journalist Diane Dimond has been on the case from the beginning.
Twenty-four-year-old Chandra Levy vanished on May 1, 2011. She had been working for U.S. House of Representatives member Gary Condit.
Whispers about an affair between the politician and his young intern caught fire and, in short order, the groundswell of public interest ended up exposing Congressman Condit’s womanizing ways.
Many observers wondered then if perhaps Condit had somehow been involved in Chandra suddenly going off the grid. Many still wonder that now.
Almost a year to the day later, Chandra’s remains turned up in Rock Creek Park. A massive manhunt ensued, with police finally thinking they caught a break when an informant pointed them toward undocumented El Salvador immigrant Ingmar Guandique. At the time, Guandique was locked up for attacking two women in Rock Creek Park. It appeared, very much, that Chandra had also fallen prey to him.
After he was found guilty and sentenced to 60 years for killing Chandra, though, a judge overturned Guandique’s conviction based on the lack of credibility of the witness who testified against him. Guandique was freed and shipped back to El Savador, where he lives today.
The Chandra Levy case, as a result, remains open.
Investigation Discovery’s Chandra Levy: An American Murder Mystery is set to rock both newcomers and long-time followers of the case with stunning new revelations. It includes interviews with Chandra’s parents; Ingmar Guandique himself; and Vincent Flammini, Gary Condit’s personal bodyguard and driver when all this happened.
Diane Dimond, who has praised the ID show as “fascinating,” took some time to talk to CrimeFeed about Chandra Levy, her personal connection to the case, and just how powerful the new revelations might turn out to be.
CRIMEFEED: How did the Chandra Levy case first come into your life?
DIANE DIMOND: The minute it hit, it was a huge story. It resonated with me because I had worked in D.C., so I knew that scene with the powerful congressmen and young interns, and the allure of power. So I could really relate. That’s why I became transfixed. In 2001, it really was the story of the year — until September 11, of course.
What was it like reporting on the case from so early on?
I write a nationally syndicated column, so as an investigative crime journalist, I have to keep my finger on the pulse. The Chandra Levy case was just such a vivid situation, and it came at such a vivid time.
And it was so mysterious. There were so many unanswered questions. There still are. But it seemed like every day, a new layer of the onion was peeled away.
What’s your overall impression of Congressman Gary Condit?
I had covered Capitol Hill, so I was already aware of Gary Condit. He was one of those congressman that was swaggering, handsome, dashing, and — I’ll use the word “ambitious.”
After the Chandra Levy story broke, I thought Condit was too slick, bordering on slimy. He was mysterious to the point of being suspicious. He refused to answer questions and do an FBI interview about one of his missing constituents!
Gary Condit obfuscated and even lied. Even with hard evidence like when they had Chandra’s dirty laundry and found Condit’s DNA on her panties. He still said, “No, there was no sexual relationship.”
So he made a very clear impression: He was not to be believed.
What are your thoughts on Ingmar Guandique?
He was and he still is just so suspicious. He was arrested for doing exactly what happened to Chandra Levy — he stalked and attacked women in Rock Creek Park. Then he got off on a technicality. He’s safely back in El Salvador, so he may have gotten away with murder.
The interview he does for ID’s Chandra Levy special is fascinating. What he says about Gary Condit’s possible involvement and his message to the Levys — I think it’s absolutely one of the most fascinating aspects of the whole project.
What’s been the biggest surprise for you regarding the Chandra Levy case?
The biggest surprise now is the bodyguard coming forward, Vincent Flammini. He sheds so much new light on the case from working for Gary Condit that it’s shocking.
Vincent has no dog in this fight, so what he says is extra fascinating. His interview is just as compelling as the one with Ingmar Guandique.
Finally, give us your best guess now in 2017: Who killed Chandra Levy?
At this point, I cannot discount Gary Condit having something to do with Chandra Levy’s death. But the same goes for Ingmar Guandique. It’s just such a mystery, and that’s why this case has endured. It’s a continuing series of unanswered questions, like JonBenét Ramsey.
As a crime reporter, what tears at my heart more than anything are the parents of murdered children. Here are Susan and Robert Levy, Chandra’s parents, all these years later, still beseeching America, still begging anyone with any information to come forward.
Chandra was their beloved daughter. All this scandal and salaciousness surrounded her disappearance. For an entire year, her parents didn’t know if she was alive or dead. They deserve a definitive answer.
My best guess remains, though: I don’t know.
To learn more about this case, watch Investigation Discovery’s Chandra Levy: An American Murder Mystery on ID GO now!
Main photos: Left: Diane Dimond/official site [promotional image]; Right: Chandra Levy [Wikipedia]