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Convict Is Targeted in Levy Inquiry

Crime: The suspect is in prison for assaulting two other women near where the ex-federal intern's body was found. Police see other similarities.

September 29, 2002|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Detectives in the Chandra Levy murder case are focusing on a man convicted of assaulting two women jogging in Rock Creek Park last year--though the suspect was initially discounted after he passed a polygraph test that investigators now believe was flawed.

Ingmar Guandique, 21, has been in prison for the assaults on the joggers since July 2001, two months after the Modesto woman disappeared. After her remains were found in the park May 22, some investigators reexamining his case were struck by the similarities in the three crime scenes, law enforcement sources said.

Investigators then discovered that a Spanish-speaking interpreter instead of a bilingual technician was used in administering Guandique's polygraph, sources said. Relying on an interpreter, according to legal experts, can skew the results of the test because the questions are filtered through and possibly altered by the interpreter.

The clothes Guandique was wearing when he was arrested July 1, 2001, were sent to the FBI laboratory in Washington for DNA tests, according to law enforcement sources. He wore the same dark, knee-length baggy shorts during both attacks for which he was convicted, according to reports from police.

Guandique, a Salvadoran immigrant, has become the focus of the Levy probe because the attacks on the joggers occurred not far from where her body was found and because of the violent nature of the assaults, according to law enforcement sources.

In a pre-sentencing memorandum, Assistant U.S. Atty. Kristina Ament called Guandique "a predator" who, armed with a knife, used the isolated portions of the park "as a hunting ground, waiting beside popular running trails, selecting victims and stalking them."

Levy's skeletal remains were discovered a little more than a year after she vanished, in an isolated pocket of the park about half a mile from where Guandique attacked one jogger and less than two miles from where he attacked another.

There is no evidence linking Guandique or anyone else to the 17-month-old case. A team of District of Columbia police, FBI agents and prosecutors from the U.S. attorney's office is conducting the investigation.

D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey cautioned that investigators don't know whether Guandique was involved but said, "He's someone we're interested in."

In May, authorities played down Guandique as a suspect because Levy had been killed before his attacks on the joggers--who fought back and escaped without serious injury. They theorized that someone who already had killed would have been more violent with the later victims. The interest in Guandique has shifted attention from Rep. Gary A. Condit (D-Ceres), who was romantically involved with the 24-year-old former federal intern when she disappeared.

Investigators have not interviewed him since Levy's remains were found, though Ramsey said, "We have not excluded anyone."

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