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Police to Search Abandoned Buildings

Aired July 12, 2001 - 14:31   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.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you back now to Washington and Bob Franken, who's on the Chandra Levy case.

Bob, what's up?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And what is going on is where this abandoned house search is going on in the District right now. One of the police commanders from that sector, Mark Beach, is talking to reporters. Let's listen in.

CMDR. MARK BEACH, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: Of course, our officers' safety is paramount, and we won't enter a dwelling we believe is structurally unsound.

QUESTION: Mark, with 80 buildings in your own district, that's going to take quite some time, it seems.

BEACH: It will, but it's the highest priority that we have right now.

QUESTION: How many days do you think, Mark?

BEACH: I would say at least through the weekend.

QUESTION: Any other jurisdictions other than metro police participating in the search, for instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation?

BEACH: No.

QUESTION: How many days did you say?

BEACH: At least through the weekend.

QUESTION: Is it that you suspect that, if in fact she met with foul play, her body may have been dumped here? Or do you think she may -- why search abandoned buildings? I mean, it may seem obvious, but for people who don't know police work and what you're up to, why do this?

BEACH: We believe from an investigative standpoint -- we are going under the premises that she's still missing. Until we have evidence of any foul play or anything else, from an investigative standpoint, we will not leave any stone unturned. And these are just a natural part of broadening our investigative search for her.

QUESTION: Do you suspect she may have -- if, in fact, she did meet with foul play, could this be a place where she was dumped?. I mean, just give us the logic behind searching a place like an abandoned building, a construction site. Just give us the logic behind it.

BEACH: Well, I won't speak on what I suspect this would be a logical place that she would be dumped. We are assuming that these dwellings are open, that a number of people may have access to. We would be remiss in our investigative responsibility if we didn't search each and every one of these.

QUESTION: And what are you specifically looking for, other than Chandra Levy? I mean, are you looking for possible evidence? I mean, give us sort of a laundry list of the specific kinds of things, other than a body, that you're looking for.

BEACH: First and foremost, we're doing an structural analysis to see whether the building is even safe and sound. Two, we're trying to notify the owners, as these buildings behind us, to make sure that they're completely secure and no one will have access to them.

Three, from a governmental standpoint, we need to know whether we have running water in the place, whether it could be a possibly gas leak -- could it pose any problems or significant risk to the public at large.

Four is, from a police standpoint, we want all our officers and our managers to be aware that we do have a vacant building and it might be a hazard.

QUESTION: But you're looking for clothing, possible -- I mean, you know, those kinds of...

BEACH: Anything and everything. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a building, if someone or something is discovered.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Third district, right?

BEACH: Third district.

QUESTION: Can we have your name and your title?

BEACH: Commander Mark Beach, and I'm a commander of the Metropolitan Police Third District.

FRANKEN: Well, of course what we heard was the official line, that they are here for a variety of reasons, in effect, to make sure that the abandoned buildings are locked up, that type of thing. But as we heard him say, this is -- quote -- "the highest priority." And that highest priority is the search for Chandra Levy. It's the highest priority, even though it, really, at its core is a missing person's case. But it is a missing person's case which has captured, literally captured the attention of the world, and so the police department now is making sure that it expands its investigation, as he said, to cover every single base, even some of those that they hadn't covered before.

This particular area of the city is in Northwest Washington. It's near quite an affluent area, but it's also an area that's not as affluent, as you could readily see, and there are any number of dwellings that are empty or look empty. As a matter of fact, the first one they went into, they found some drug paraphernalia and a mattress. It was not abandoned, actually.

But this is going to be a search, as we heard just a moment ago, Natalie, that's going to take them at least through the end of the week.

ALLEN: Well, they certainly have their work cut out for them, Bob. I mean, investigators say they've talked with almost 100 people, interviewed them, and really have no strong lead of where to head in this investigation.

FRANKEN: Well, let us not forget one thing. We are the not being told everything that is going on, so we can't assume that they aren't closer to discovering Chandra Levy's whereabouts. We know that the police have decided that they have to make sure, since this has gained so much attention, that they, in fact, are perceived and in reality are doing everything they can.

This one has just taken on an unusual significance and, of course, we all know why. It's because of the wide discussion about the relationship that Congressman Gary Condit had with the missing person, Chandra Levy. And of course, that has expanded all over the place. But this is where the investigation really is occurring. It's occurring in the beat work and the footwork, that type of thing, and we're seeing an example of it as they go through all these abandoned buildings.

ALLEN: All right, Bob. Bob Franken in Washington.

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