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Parents of Missing Intern Hire a New Lawyer

Aired June 21, 2001 - 14:00   ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Police say they want another chance to question a U.S. congressman about the disappearance of a former Washington intern. 24-year-old Chandra Levy has been missing since April 30, and a lawyer representing Levy's parents is scheduled to hold a news conference any moment now. CNN national correspondent Bob Franken is at the Watergate hotel where the conference is about to take place outside. Bob, what's going on?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's going on now is an awful lot of hubbub. To give you an idea of how this story has become something that is of such huge interest around the country and around the world, the story of course, of the disappearance seven weeks ago of 24-year-old Chandra Levy who had been an intern at the Bureau of Prisons here in Washington. There have been repeated accusations that in fact, she had a romantic relationship with the congressman for her home town, Gary Condit, 53 years old, and married; allegations that have been consistently and repeatedly denied through a spokesman by Congressman Condit.

Nevertheless, the allegations have not gone away. There has been continued speculation about this. I emphasize, only speculation. The parents of Chandra Levy, Dr. Robert Levy and Susan Levy have been very successful in mounting a public relations campaign about this, but they have run into some snags and are dissatisfied with the investigation.

They will be leaving here and going down to the Washington, D.C. police department and meeting with police officials. But first, they are going to appear in just a couple of minutes here at the Watergate office building with their newly-hired lawyer, who has his offices here. He's Billy Martin, you might remember he became quite prominent during the investigation into the Monica Lewinsky matter. He ended up representing Monica Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis, was seen by her side any number of times.

But the reason he was hired, we're told, is less his experience in matter of interns than the fact that he is also an experienced investigator. In one of his earlier careers, he was with the U.S. attorney's office here in Washington, and headed the homicide investigation unit. So, the Levys have hired him to try and supplement the official police investigation. But as I mentioned a moment ago, they will be going down to get a briefing from the police on exactly what's going on. Now, as for Congressman Condit, we have been told by police officials that they are trying to arrange a second interview with the congressman. He was interviewed by them about five weeks ago, but police officials say that in a case like this, it is not unusual to want to try and retrace their steps. Also they say that since there's been such a persistent discussion about a relationship with Condit and the intern, police say that there's some sort of relationship and they're saying that perhaps that might now shed some light on the disappearance of Chandra Levy.

I should point out that police emphasize, A, that Condit has been cooperative; B, he is not considered a suspect -- but that's also because this is not considered a criminal investigation. The police are still calling this a missing person investigation. They have just made this a very intense one because of all the huge publicity, publicity which has caused the scene like we have today, a scene that is going to continue to be repeated, the thing that all of this has done -- has not done, rather, is to result in finding Chandra Levy. She continues to be missing.

Officials say that there are three possibilities: it could be that she took her own life, something like that; that she's in fact hiding with some friend, or of course, the other possibility is that she came to bad end through foul play -- Lou.

WATERS: Bob, does this second interview with Congressman Condit imply that the D.C. police are getting nowhere with the case?

FRANKEN: Well, the D.C. police have been really quite close about what it is they do and don't know. They say that all it implies is that they need more information. They believe that Condit, given the period of time that has lapsed since his last interview and given the new information that continues to recur about the relationship he had, that that might jog somebody's memory.

It is clear that the police do not yet know what the fate of Chandra Levy is, so they are tracing their steps, retracing their steps. I have been told by any number of people that they have done interviews with them, time after time after time.

We are being told now that we're about two minutes away from the appearance of Billy Martin, the attorney along with Levys. They'll be joining us in just a second. Billy Martin is walking out right now. You can probably see him over my shoulder with the Levys. Here they come. They're coming right past us, and they'll be going to make a statement, Billy Martin of course accompanying Dr. Robert Levy and Susan Levy as they walk to the microphones, which are just about 15 feet from where they are right now.

They are headed over there. And we're seeing them, of course, as they head toward the microphones. They are going from here to the police department, but first here's Billy Martin, attorney Billy Martin.

BILLY MARTIN, ATTORNEY FOR ROBERT AND SUSAN LEVY: Good afternoon. My name is Billy Martin. I am a partner at a law firm Dyer, Ellis & Joseph, located here at the Watergate. Beside me is Mrs. Susan Levy and her husband, Dr. Robert Levy. As you know, they are the parents of Chandra Levy, who has been missing for more than six weeks.

The Levys have retained our law firm to assist them in obtaining both information and, if necessary, to conduct an independent investigation into the whereabouts or the facts surrounding Chandra's disappearance. On behalf of the Levys, we would like to request publicly and worldwide that anybody who has information surrounding Chandra's disappearance, please contact us.

We would say that we have spoken with the metropolitan police department, we have arranged for a meeting with Chief Ramsey to discuss this matter. We would publicly state that we have complete confidence in the D.C. police department in their investigation of this matter. Chandra has been missing now for six weeks. Chief Ramsey has agreed to meet with us as soon as we complete this appearance.

We are asking that anybody with information please contact us. Here at the law firm, we've established an 800 number for anybody who has information to contact us. That number is 1-800-860-6552. We've also established a Web site and address here. Anybody with information can contact us via the Internet at Again, On behalf of Dr. and Mrs. Levy, we implore anybody with any information to assist us in locating Chandra.

We would have no further comments from the Levys at this time. I would on behalf of them today be willing to entertain a few questions, and I can see that we may have more than a few that you may have of Dr. and Mrs. Levy, but at this time, they will make no statements. I open it up to you.


MARTIN: We assume that there will be many questions relating to Congressman Condit. Congressman Condit has acknowledged that he is a friend of Chandra Levy. We asked the congressman and all other friends who have any information regarding either Chandra's emotional state prior to her disappearance, the existence of and depth of any relationships and any information from her friends.

So, we would ask Congressman Condit and anybody else with information to please come forward, please cooperate with the police and with any investigations that we have at the two addresses we gave you.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) deferential to Mr. Condit up until the present?

MARTIN: We don't think so. We think that -- we've heard Chief Gainer say that this is not yet a crime, it is a missing person. Having been a federal prosecutor here in Washington, we know how sensitive these matters are. We, again, have complete confidence in the D.C. police department and this investigation. I would say to you that we here at Dyer, Ellis & Joseph have a background. Assisting me will be Patrick Woodward (ph), another partner of mine at Dyer, Ellis & Joseph, and two investigators. We have Duane Stanton (ph), and Joseph McCann (ph). Duane Stanton (ph) and Joseph McCann (ph) are former -- retired -- they are retired homicide detectives here in D.C. They will assist us.

Mr. Woodward (ph) and myself have experience in crimes of violence. I was the head of the homicide unit here in Washington. With our team, we hope to supplement any investigation now ongoing by the metropolitan police department. We understand that we will stay out of their way, but on behalf of the Levy family we will look into this matter.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Congressman Condit's cooperation?

MARTIN: We have -- at this time, I will not discuss the state of the evidence. We will meet with Chief Gainer and Chief Ramsey, we hope in 10 to 15 minutes to discuss both their investigation, to provide them with information that we have, that we are confident they don't yet have, because we have been meeting with people, and we hope to find out the status of that investigation.

QUESTION: We understand, sir, we understand that Congressman Condit did make an effort to speak to Mr. and Mrs. Levy. Why was that effort rebuffed?

MARTIN: After six weeks, it was my recommendation -- I was out of town on another major investigation -- it was my recommendation to Dr. and Mrs. Levy, who would love to talk Congressman Condit, to wait until I could arrive back in town. We are now hoping to meet with congressman. We're available.

QUESTION: So, you would like that call to be made now? You want the congressman to call up and to speak to you and to the parents of Chandra?

MARTIN: That is correct. And we've heard from attorney, indicating he represents Congressman Condit. We haven't had an opportunity to speak with that attorney or to confirm it, so until I have had a chance to do that, we don't know what the status of that is, but we do want to talk.

QUESTION: Mr. Martin can you describe the nature of the congressman's relationship with Ms. Levy?

MARTIN: At this time, I note -- know you would all like to know that. The answer to that question, we hope that during the investigation we can really find out the depth of that relationship, what it was. Dr. and Mrs. Levy have no -- what that relationship was, and again, in an attempt not to jeopardize the police department's investigation, it has been my recommendation that the Levys not comment any further on any relationship with Congressman Condit.

QUESTION: What you understand now, Billy, is has congressman cooperated with the police department, just from what you understand? MARTIN: I would hope to be able to answer that question when we walk out of police headquarters in about 45 minutes.

QUESTION: Billy, why are homicide and medical examiner detectives involved?

MARTIN: After six weeks, and...


MARTIN: No -- knowing -- thank you. Knowing their daughter, Mrs. and Dr. Levy are confident that Chandra has not just walked away. What has brought publicity and heightened the intensity of this investigation is the fact that Chandra lived here temporarily as an intern in a federal agency that she has -- that a congressman has acknowledged being a friend, and any information, any investigation that they can give will help us.

QUESTION: My question was about the homicide and medical examiner detectives. Why would they be involved in this if it's just a missing persons case?

MARTIN: After six weeks, we are confident and we are hopeful that Chief Gainer and Chief Ramsey would agree to upgrade this to something other than a missing person investigation, and we are going to ask them to do that. It is standard police procedure to consider people missing until some evidence of foul play has been determined. We are going to ask the D.C. police department whether they could upgrade this to something beyond a missing person investigation.

QUESTION: Why did the Levys feel it necessary to hire your firm? What can you offer them?

MARTIN: One of two things I think this firm can offer to the Levys. One is help with the media. The Levys have been trying to do this on their own, at their home in Modesto. It's overwhelming. We are hoping that we will now take over all media contact and the Levys can go about trying to get on with their lives. They have other children. They would like to go back to their lives, and they would like not to have the current and repeated contact with the media.

What we think my firm at Dyer, Ellis & Joseph and I can do is give them an in-depth as we know Washington. We know Washington very well. We have people who have been out on the streets trying to find information. We are contacting sources and other information that is out there. We are devoting a full team of people to do this on behalf of the Levys. We hope to supplement any investigation that D.C. police department will do.

And again, we will stay out of their way. We understand what it means to make a case, and we would make sure that we do nothing to jeopardize their case. We are scheduled to be at police headquarters at 2:30.

QUESTION: Do you believe that Congressman Condit knows more than he's (OFF-MIKE)? MARTIN: Again, I think I've answered all the questions that I can regarding Congressman Condit. I would hope that -- I know that Chief Gainer yesterday indicated that he was trying to interview the congressman for a second time. We are hopeful that the congressman will in fact cooperate with that investigation, and maybe he can share information that he has regarding Chandra.

Excuse me one second.

We are going to break off now, and we would hope that we may have further information following our meeting with the chief of police. Thank you.

WATERS: All right. Billy Martin who is the new attorney for Dr. Robert Levy and Susan Levy who were at his side as he told us that they are on their way to D.C. police headquarters to talk to Chief Gainer and other officials about the Chandra Levy case, in hopes of persuading the D.C. police to upgrade this to something other than a missing persons investigation.

Bob Franken is on the story. He's not far from where we just heard Billy Martin speak. What would upgrading the case allow in this matter, Bob?

FRANKEN: Well, it would turn it into a matter that -- where -- with a criminal investigation, which always gets a higher priority. It would change the focus. It would cause the ability to more easily have subpoenas brought in, that type of thing.

So, what they are saying now is, look, there's considerable evidence that there is foul play here. That is the standard that is used to require criminal investigations, and they're going to ask the police to do it. The police have gone out of their way to say that thus far this has just been a missing person investigation.

And of course, you also heard that there's going to be an effort to try and get a meeting between Congressman Condit and the Levys. Up until this point, the congressman has said that he would like to have such a meeting, but up until this point he had not heard from the Levys. So, now we're going to have to find out when that is going to happen, of course, and under what circumstances -- Lou.

WATERS: I heard mentioned twice by Billy Martin that they would urge Congressman Condit to cooperate with the police investigation. I thought I heard you report earlier that police have been saying he is cooperating with the investigation.

FRANKEN: As a matter of fact, you did hear that, Lou, and the police repeatedly say that, as evidenced by the fact that Condit is expressing a willingness to go back and talk with the police -- something, by the way, he would not have to do without a subpoena. And police said that he was entirely cooperative the first time they talked to him.

WATERS: All right, Bob Franken at the Watergate in Washington. The first order of business for Billy Martin was a call for help, issuing that 800 number for anyone who might have a lead for them, 1- 800-860-6552. There has been a Web site established, so the answer to the question where Chandra is still has been unanswered, but we've kicked it up a notch, and we will continue to follow the story.



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