Profile of Potential Suspect in Chandra Levy Case

WASHINGTON (AP) - Since Washington intern Chandra Levy
disappeared in 2001, one name had been familiar: Gary Condit, the
former congressman who was questioned by authorities in her
disappearance.

But a man named Ingmar Guandique was never far away. The
Salvadoran immigrant lived in an apartment near the park where
Levy's remains were found. He's now serving time in federal prison
for assaulting two female joggers there weeks after Levy
disappeared.

An arrest in the Levy case is imminent, and two people with
knowledge of the case have told The Associated Press that Guandique
will be charged.

Relatives and court records offer a glimpse of Guandique, who
was described by prosecutors as a violent predator with drug and
alcohol problems and poor self-control.

But there are still few answers for why it's taken so long to
make an arrest in a case that some say brought down a popular
congressman and embarrassed District of Columbia police.

Guandique left the San Miguel area of eastern El Salvador for
the U.S. about eight years ago. He had been in the Washington area
since at least 2000, moving often and taking day-laborer jobs like
carpentry and construction, according to court records.

But he quickly ran into legal and personal problems. The
Washington Post, which explored the Levy case in a 12-part series
last year, reported that Guandique was an illegal immigrant who had
abused his ex-girlfriend, Iris Portillo.

Sheila Phillips Cruz, Guandique's former landlady, told The Post
that around the time Chandra Levy disappeared, Guandique had
scratches on his throat and a swollen lip. She said Guandique told
her he'd been in a fight with Portillo, who denied that she hit
him.

Cruz said Guandique began drinking around that time, and "just
got really strange."

"Half the time he didn't know where he was," she told the
newspaper.

Attempts by The Associated Press this week to reach Cruz were
unsuccessful and Portillo declined comment.

In May 2001, Guandique was arrested for breaking into a
neighbor's apartment and stealing a gold ring. He would plead
guilty to attempted burglary and was sentenced in February 2002 to
nine months in jail. He was on release in that case when he was
arrested for two assaults, according to court documents.

He assaulted the first of those victims in the park the same
month as the break-in, grabbing her from behind while she was
jogging. Then two months later, he attacked another woman the same
way.

In February 2002, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the
attacks on the two women.

Guandique "appears to have used Rock Creek Park as a hunting
ground, waiting beside popular running trails; selecting victims
and stalking them," prosecutors said. He committed both assaults
in isolated parts of the park, and dragged one of the victims off
the trail and into a ravine.

Prosecutors cautioned that, if released, he could continue
attacks on women and he "may act out impulsively and may have
trouble controlling his anger."

Also in May 2001, just two weeks before the first assault, Levy,
a 24-year-old intern for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, disappeared
after leaving her Washington apartment in jogging clothes. A man
walking his dog found her skull and bones in Rock Creek Park a year
later.

The case attracted widespread attention over allegations that
Levy had been romantically involved with married U.S. Rep. Gary
Condit. It was cited as the main cause of his re-election defeat in
the March 2002 primary.

While Condit's political career foundered, it would be some time
before the name of a possible suspect would be raised: Guandique,
now 27 years old and serving in a federal prison in Adelanto,
Calif., for the assaults at Rock Creek Park.

Authorities originally ruled out Guandique as a suspect, but his
name resurfaced again in the investigation after her remains were
found.

Sheryl McCollum, director of the Cold Case Investigative
Research Institute at Bauder College in Atlanta, led a yearlong
investigation on the Levy case with about 100 students and experts
from her school and three other universities. They turned over
their findings to D.C. police in December.

She said if police arrest Guandique, it would make sense to her
and support some of her group's findings.

Guandique's brother, Huber, a 29-year-old who lives in suburban
Maryland, said he recently received a letter from his brother in
prison, saying that corrections officials are not letting him speak
to anyone. The brothers haven't seen each other in years, he said.

Huber Guandique said investigators have interviewed his younger
brother about Levy multiple times. Ingmar Guandique is tired of the
repeated interviews and said they were making him "crazy," his
brother said.

Santha Sonenberg, Guandique's public defender, said Monday she
could not comment on the case.

Although an arrest appears to be imminent, many, including the
Levys, still wonder why it's taken so long to find Chandra Levy's
killer. The Post's series quoted police who said investigators
spent too much time pursuing connections between Levy and Condit,
and not enough pursuing other leads.

On Saturday, an exhausted Susan Levy said she was doing all she
could to honor her daughter's passion for justice and law
enforcement.

"We are just one family that has gone through this. How many
other families have cold cases that are unsolved and are still
looking for answers?" she said. "This is bittersweet. I still
don't know if justice will be done."

Mike Dyer, a D.C. attorney whose firm represented the Levy
family, said the initial police search trying to find Levy in the
park was inadequate and prolonged the case.

"Had we found the remains in a more timely manner, there would
have been much more evidence available," he said.

The chairman of the D.C. police union, Kristopher Baumann, who
helped search the park after Levy's remains were found, said there
will be lessons to learn from the case.

"One of the things we have to find out is: What did go wrong
and what we can do different to make sure that doesn't happen
again?" he said.


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