Magazine article Newsweek

The Intern Who Went Missing: The Mystery of Chandra Levy Grips Washington

Magazine article Newsweek

The Intern Who Went Missing: The Mystery of Chandra Levy Grips Washington

Article excerpt

Chandra Levy was going home. Late last month the bubbly, curly-haired 24-year-old from Modesto, Calif., finished her final day as a Washington intern for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. She packed her bags, canceled her health-club membership and e-mailed her mother to say that she'd gotten plane tickets and would arrive home that weekend. Then she simply disappeared. When police searched her apartment, they found her clothes neatly folded in her suitcase, and her mobile phone, laptop computer and credit cards.

Now all of Washington, it seems, is consumed with her fate. In the three weeks since Levy went missing, the case has become a media magnet. The Washington police department has assigned 20 detectives to the case, and the FBI recently stepped in to help.

Every year in the United States nearly 100,000 people are declared missing. Rarely do we hear or read a word about any of them. So why has Chandra Levy's disappearance gotten so much attention? For one thing, Levy's parents have received help from the Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation. Started by relatives of three hikers murdered in Yosemite National Park in 1999 near Levy's hometown of Modesto, the group has managed media access to Levy's distraught parents. Yet it isn't simply concern over Chandra Levy's well-being that has kept the case alive in the press. In scandal-obsessed Washington, where the words "young female intern" still echo, the story is being fueled by speculation about Levy's relationship with a congressman.

Police and reporters began searching for clues soon after Levy was declared missing. The Modesto Bee reported that she sent guarded e-mails to a friend late last year in which she mentioned someone she was dating. "My man will be coming back here when Congress starts up again," she wrote. "I'm looking forward to seeing him. …

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