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D.C. Police Chief Ramsey Discusses Search of Congressman Gary Condit's Apartment

Aired July 11, 2001 - 07:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Bob Franken reporting in from Washington, D.C., after an overnight search of Congressman Gary Condit's apartment.

Bob, what do you know?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, the police have said they wanted to move as quickly as possible, and it took them an entire day and into the evening before their forensics team, the evidence gathering unit, went to the apartment of Gary Condit in the Adams- Morgan section of Washington, about 2:30 in the morning. And when they left, they left with bags full of material. They had been there for 3 1/2 hours.

They were there because they had gotten permission from Condit to go in without a warrant. Police will tell you that they had not up until this time sought a search of the apartment. Many people had criticized that, but the evidence-gathering experts will tell you that even after 10 weeks, you can still find material, using the chemicals that they use to find signs of blood, sings of hair, and signs of a struggle. It was a very thorough search, the officials tell us.

As the Condit investigation -- we call it the Condit investigation because it is really a search for Chandra Levy, but more and more it has focused on the relationship between Condit and the 24- year-old intern after investigating sources tell us that Condit told police, on Friday night, that he did have the romantic relationship with Chandra Levy that up until then he had denied.

There is also a lie detector test that the police want that they're trying to negotiate -- Carol.

LIN: Let's find out more about this investigation.

Bob, please stand by.

We have got the D.C. police chief joining us, Chief Charles Ramsey, in Washington.

Good morning, chief.

CHIEF CHARLES RAMSEY, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: Good morning.

LIN: What exactly did you find? We just saw the pictures of a couple of bags, several rectangular items.

RAMSEY: I can't talk about what we took, specifically, but we took anything that we thought might yield any kind of evidence that would help us bring this case to a conclusion.

LIN: S that evidence that you found, did it give you an indication of Chandra Levy's state of mind, the status of the relationship with the congressman?

RAMSEY: It's too soon for that now. The evidence has to be analyzed. It may or may not have any value in this case. But we were given the opportunity to conduct a search, and we took advantage of it.

LIN: We understand that you were using infrared lights as part of the investigation inside the apartment. Were you looking for DNA evidence?

RAMSEY: That's pretty standard, actually. In any search that we would conduct under these circumstances you look for DNA, for anything that might be of evidentiary value.

LIN: Given that it's been said that Congressman Gary Condit and Chandra Levy were having an affair, were lovers, what sort of DNA evidence did you find in the apartment that you wouldn't expect to find? What sort of DNA evidence did you find that would be suspicious?

RAMSEY: Again, the search was just concluded earlier this morning. We've yet to analyze the materials that we took from the apartment, so it's too soon to comment on anything. But even if I did have the information, I would not be able to talk specifically about what the search yielded.

LIN: Billy Martin, the attorney who represents Chandra Levy's parents said that this search, albeit a good one, should have been done weeks ago, even two weeks into the investigation, not in the tenth week of this woman's disappearance. Why wasn't it done sooner?

RAMSEY: Mr. Martin understands we had no probable cause. You just can't go in...

LIN: And you have probable cause now?

RAMSEY: No, but we were given a consent to search, and that's the difference. We were given permission to conduct this search. In order to have a search with a warrant, you need to fill out an affidavit, you have to get the U.S. attorney to sign off on it, a judge has to sign off on it -- and quite frankly, up until this point, it was a little iffy if we had enough probable cause.

LIN: Is Congressman Gary Condit a suspect in the disappearance of Chandra Levy?

RAMSEY: We don't use that term because we don't have any evidence of a crime yet. What we know we have is a missing person. He is one of about 99 or 100 people or so that we've interviewed, that had some kind of contact, in some form or another, with Miss Levy.

Unfortunately, all the focus is on Mr. Condit, but our focus is on trying to answer the question of what happened to Chandra Levy. Now, he may or may not have anything to do with that. That remains to be seen, but certainly, we want to explore all possibilities. If he's not involved in this at all -- and right now we don't have any evidence to show that he is -- we want to be able to put this behind us so we can move on.

LIN: What evidence, specifically, would make Congressman Gary Condit a suspect?

RAMSEY: If there's evidence of foul play, if there's something that can't be explained, that we can't answer. There's a variety of things that could possibly happen. But again, I think to narrowly focus on one individual at this point, when we have no particular reason to focus on that one person to that point, in terms of her disappearance, I think is something that we have to try to avoid. We have to look at all possibilities and anyone at all that might have anything to do with her disappearance.

LIN: What's the status of negotiations to extract DNA from the congressman, as well as taking a lie detector test?

RAMSEY: Again, we've been working with Mr. Lowell around all these different issues. We don't have specific time lines, but hopefully we'll be able to do everything we need to do very, very quickly and again get these samples analyzed, take a look and review the lie detector results, and move on.

LIN: Last question before I bring back Bob Franken in this interview. Chief, when the investigators went inside the apartment, was there any sign that the apartment had changed in any way -- new paint, new furniture, new rugs?

RAMSEY: I've not spoken with any of the crime scene search personnel that went in there, but people will tell you that the kind of evidence that we are able to obtain during a search now is very, very difficult, if not impossible, to conceal, so I'm very confident that with a thorough search, if there were evidence there, we would recover evidence. But then again, there's always that possibility -- which is a good possibility -- that there will be nothing that connects the disappearance of Chandra Levy to that apartment.

LIN: Bob Franken, who's been covering the story from the very beginning is standing by in our Washington bureau -- Bob.

FRANKEN: Let me ask, Chief: You said a moment ago that, of course, what you're looking for are signs of foul play, and I believe your investigators have told me that when you go and do a search like this, what you're really looking for, as much as anything else, are the signs of a struggle. Can you elaborate on that?

RAMSEY: You look for everything -- and when I say "signs of foul play," all those things kind of add up to what we would call foul play: signs of a struggle, other types of evidence -- blood, skin, or tissue -- things of that nature that could point something happening that was unusual, and that might all point toward foul play.

FRANKEN: That would be looking for in a search of an apartment like this, correct?

RAMSEY: We'd be looking for all kinds of things that we just mentioned and anything else we think might be of evidentiary value.

FRANKEN: Second question: Have you searched anybody else's apartment or residence during the course of the Chandra Levy investigation?

RAMSEY: Again, we've done a lot of things during the course of this investigation in terms of interviews and various other things; I'm not going to comment on anything we may have done, but again, in order for us to obtain a search warrant, we do need probable cause.

Unfortunately, in this case, we don't have a lot going in terms of whether or not she left on her own accord, whether or not there was foul play involved. Right now what we have is a missing person and nothing more than a missing person.

FRANKEN: I guess what I'm getting at is was this search unique in this investigation?

RAMSEY: It's unique to be given this offer. We appreciate the fact we got this offer. We simply are taking advantage of the offer, as any law enforcement agency would. But the metropolitan police department and the FBI are doing everything that we possibly can to try to bring this to a successful .

FRANKEN:: I have one more question, one last question, and that has to do with the polygraph test. Abbe Lowell did not say that he would agree to a polygraph test. He would only discuss it. Do you believe that there will be a lie detector test?

RAMSEY: I certainly hope so. I don't know why -- there's no point in discussing it if you're not going to do it. So let's just hope that it takes place. If it doesn't, it doesn't; we just have to move on. But I'm optimistic that it will. I think that both Mr. Lowell and Mr. Condit want to get this behind them and work with us to try to answer all the questions that are outstanding around this case.

FRANKEN: If I could, us one other. We keep on saying that we're no closer to any knowledge about the disappearance of Chandra Levy. Are you any closer whatsoever, or are you as stumped as you were at the beginning?

RAMSEY: Obviously, we've interviewed a lot of people. We've collected some evidence. We've done some things, but we still have not been able to answer the one question that is the most important question, and that is what happened to Chandra Levy? Until we're able to answer that question, obviously we still have a long way to go on this investigation.

FRANKEN: Chief Ramsey, thank you -- Carol. LIN: Chief, one last question from the CNN center here: Whether or not you take a polygraph test, whether or not you decide to ask Gary Condit for a sample of his DNA, does that now depend on how the evidence extracted from the apartment pans out?

RAMSEY: Not really. During the press conference that Mr. Lowell had, he talked about DNA, he talked about the search, he talked about the possibility of a lie detector test, and we're following up on all those. He offered to have us interview staffers. Of course, we don't need his permission for that -- and we plan to do that as well.

So we're going to do everything that we need to do in this investigation, not just as it relates to Mr. Condit, but as it relates to anyone who might have any knowledge of Chandra Levy at all.

LIN: Chief Charles Ramsey, Washington, D.C., Police, thank you very much for joining us this morning. You've got your work cut out for you.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

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