WASHINGTON — Police recruits completed a fruitless 2 1/2-week search of Washington's wooded areas for former intern Chandra Levy, as investigators continued to hunt for leads in the three-month-old case Tuesday.
"This puts an end to the search of parkland at this time within the District of Columbia pending any future developments. The investigation is continuing," said Sgt. Joe Gentile, police spokesman.
As the foot search was drawing to an end, the FBI and city police interviewed a Washington hardware store worker who said he thinks Levy asked him to duplicate keys for her after April 30, when she is last known to have been seen.
John Woodfolk, who works at W. J. Candey Hardware Inc., said the woman came into the shop one morning in early May. Woodfolk, 60, said he came to think the woman was Levy after he later saw fliers posted in the neighborhood that bore her picture.
In addition, he said, he had handed the woman in the store an envelope for the keys and asked her to write her name on it so she could identify the package when she returned to pick it up. She wrote "Levy" on the envelope, he said.
Police said that they would continue to investigate Woodfolk's account but added that it was unclear whether the woman was Levy and when the transaction took place.
The disappearance of Levy, 24, has attracted worldwide attention, partly because of her connection to Rep. Gary A. Condit. The California Democrat, who represents Levy's hometown of Modesto, acknowledged in the third of his four interviews with police investigating the case that he had a romantic relationship with Levy, sources familiar with the meeting said.
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said last weekend that the end of the foot search of wooded areas would signal the start of a scaling back of resources used in the case. He said that the recruits needed to return to the police academy and that they would be called back only if a specific tip required that level of manpower.
The search of parks and wooded areas was not prompted by a tip but was a logical step in the search to eliminate certain possibilities, police said. Now that it has ended, investigators are still searching for a clue that might send them in a definite direction. They plan to retrace steps and re-interview some people to see whether they missed anything, law enforcement authorities said.