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D.C. Police Chief Holds News Conference on the Investigation Into Chandra Levy's Disappearance

Aired July 27, 2001 - 15:47   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.
BOBBIE BATTISTA, HOST, CNN'S TALKBACK LIVE: I think I would be more concerned about the -- oh, you know what, I've got to interrupt us just a moment here, because evidently D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey is making an appearance, possibly making a statement. So we'll go to those cameras and those microphones and see what he has to say.

QUESTION: Can you tell us how cooperative Mr. Condit was in the interview last night?

CHIEF CHARLES RAMSEY, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: Well, we're not going to get into details of that. What I can say is this: We did meet with the congressman last night just to clear up a few issues. There's some information that we still needed. We're going to now evaluate all of that and that's pretty much where we are right now.

QUESTION: Were D.C. police investigators asking questions along with the FBI?

RAMSEY: Absolutely. The Metropolitan Police Department is the lead agency in this. Our detectives were there along with the FBI that's actually assisting the Metropolitan Police Department.

QUESTION: The meeting seemed remarkably short, less than an hour hour. Why so -- why so little time spent with the congressman?

RAMSEY: Well, I wasn't actually in the meeting. Again, the investigators knew exactly what it is they wanted to ask when they went in there, and now they're evaluating the responses.

QUESTION: Was it -- was it an investigative or a meeting focusing on the profiling of Chandra Levy?

RAMSEY: Well, again, we're not getting into the specifics of what was discussed during the course of the meeting. But there was some information that we felt we needed to move forward, and that was the purpose of the meeting.

QUESTION: ... (OFF-MIKE) the information about Mrs. Condit? What is the status now? Are you looking to reinterview her? There seem to be many rumors about Mrs. Condit. What (OFF-MIKE)?

RAMSEY: I'm not aware of any immediate plans to interview or reinterview Mrs. Condit. Now, all those people that we have interviewed, we reserve the right to ask questions again if the need comes up.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) interviewed by you?

RAMSEY: Well, I'm not going to get into whether or not people are here or not here. They have a right to privacy, and some folks just really quite frankly don't want it to be known whether they're here or not.

QUESTION: Chief, what about a polygraph, a police-administered polygraph, police or FBI of the congressman?

RAMSEY: Well, again, you know, we talked about that earlier. Whether or not that's something that would be to useful to us is something that the investigators will decide. I have no idea whether or not the congressman or his attorney would be willing to -- to get involved in that sort of thing or not. So...

QUESTION: Was it discussed last night?

RAMSEY: I'm not getting into the details of what was discussed during that meeting.

QUESTION: There are reports that Carolyn Condit may have spoken to Chandra Levy before Chandra disappeared. Do you have any knowledge that that may have taken place?

RAMSEY: I don't know where all that came from. I have no -- no knowledge of that at this point in time. So I mean, it's like a lot of things that are floating around here.

QUESTION: Is that something that you are investigating?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, we've already been investigating all kinds of angles here. I mean, but every time a new rumor surfaces, certainly we want to check our files and see whether or not there's any substance to it. But unfortunately, there are some things that, you know, we simply cannot verify.

QUESTION: What about Chandra's apartment building? Can you bring us up to date on the number of residents who have spoken to you?

RAMSEY: Well, I don't know the exact number, but I know we have gotten a vast majority of them. Some folks weren't home. We've left letters under doors and so forth. And we'll continue to try to have a face-to-face meeting with all residents. But some have made it clear that they don't wish to speak, they have nothing to add, and we can't force people to. But some people are very busy and just not in town that often.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... residents in the building?

RAMSEY: We know who's in the building.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) you know that Gary Condit has been to Virginia. Are you cooperating, are you in touch with, are you working in tandem with Virginia police regarding the fact that Gary Condit and an aide went there to dispose of what has become part of this case?

RAMSEY: Well, I never -- I don't recall ever saying that or confirming anything about that allegation that's been made. I'm not going to discuss details of this case to that level of specificity. So we are involved in an investigation now for 2 1/2 months or so, and we're continuing to work every aspect of this case, and that's where we are. We don't have anything right now that leads down any particular path or whether or not she met with foul play or whether or not she left on her own accord.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Can I follow-up please?

QUESTION: ... meeting with Gary Condit last night.

QUESTION: Excuse me.

QUESTION: No.

QUESTION: Was -- was this a way to also check on his timeline for May 1st, and also for the FBI profilers to try and get a profile of Chandra Levy?

RAMSEY: Well, again, I can't get into too much detail around that particular meeting. There is an investigation taking place. We have to be sensitive to that and maintain the integrity of it. So we're not going to comment on details around that particular meeting.

There were members of the Metropolitan Police Department along with the FBI that met for close to a couple of hours last night. We're not going to talk about the details of what was discussed. All cards are still on the table in terms of interviews and other people that we're talking to. And we're just going to continue to pursue this case.

QUESTION: Can you rule out the...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... because he had other floor votes, the congressman had -- the congressman had floor votes that he had to get back to last night, did he have to end session before it was completed? Might there be another meeting (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the investigators?

RAMSEY: I wasn't at that meeting. I don't know the timeframe of the votes versus that. I just didn't get that level of detail. But if we need to talk to anyone again, then certainly we will not be afraid to ask.

QUESTION: Did you think...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) farther along at this point in the investigation? RAMSEY: Well, I think everybody thought we'd be probably further along initially. I mean, we get missing person cases all the time. It's unusual to have them go this long, but then again there are cases throughout the United States that have just simply gone unsolved. We don't know what happened to the individual.

I hope this doesn't become the case here, but the longer it goes, the higher the likelihood that we may never find out what happened to her. I'm still optimistic that we'll be able to find out, but I'm certainly not real happy with the fact that we still don't even know whether or not she left on her own free will or whether or not she's the victim of foul play.

QUESTION: Again, Chief, would you characterize...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) still not a suspect?

RAMSEY: We don't have a suspect because we don't have a crime. And again, that language may not mean much to some people, but to us in law enforcement it means a great deal. And we have to be careful how we use that language.

We have a lot of people who we have spoken to, probably close to a hundred, and I know slightly more than 100 that we've talked to. Anyone who we think has information that might help us out in locating Ms. Levy is who we're interested in. However, these are people who are cooperating on their own, they're not being forced to cooperate, and we have no one (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a suspect.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) sent to you complaining about the fact the congressman (OFF-MIKE)?

RAMSEY: Well, first of all, I -- I just saw the letter a moment ago when someone showed it to me. It's dated today. It's not yet reached me. But my understanding is, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) concern is that resources from his ward are being drained. Quite frankly, I wish he had picked up the phone and called, which he has done in the past. But I'd be glad to show him that that's not the case.

The investigative -- the investigators are from 2-D, which, by the way, has had no murders to date this year. The other detectives have been used on occasion to help with canvassing. We have recruits from the academy that are helping with searching of the parks and so forth. So I'd be glad to sit down and talk to him about it. I know he's concerned, but that has no -- no basis.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) from the family of the victims murdered up on 13th Street a couple of weeks ago? Again, they're claiming the same thing, that the resources that could be used to investigate...

RAMSEY: Right.

QUESTION: ... that homicide are being used on the Levy investigation.

RAMSEY: Well, again, you know, this is a large department: 3,600 members. We're slightly higher than 3,600 members right now. We can walk and chew gum. We've got a lot of crimes that we're working on right now. We're not taken from one to do to the other.

I realize that that particular situation is one where there's a very serious allegation made relative to the responsiveness of crime scene search and others. We've got OPR investigating that to find out if there's any validity to it at all.

But again, we have a lot of things going on in the District of Columbia, and we're doing everything that we can to make sure that we give them all the kind of attention they need. But we're not draining resources off of one thing to do another.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) three months apart. With the benefit of hindsight -- we know how beautiful it is -- is there anything you would have done differently in this case?

RAMSEY: No, there's nothing, because the reality is that part of what we're going through now -- and I realize that I -- I also watch the news, that there's occasional criticism of what we did or didn't do two or three days into the investigation. But what people are doing is using that 12- or 13-week base of knowledge that they now have to form opinions about what should have been done two days into the investigation. And that is simply unfair.

As this investigation progresses, we are doing everything we can to try to answer the one question that everyone's interested in, and that is, what happened to Chandra Levy? We don't have an answer to that yet and we're doing everything that we possibly can to try to come up with that answer.

QUESTION: Chief, could you characterize Congressman Condit as cooperative during last night's meeting?

RAMSEY: Again, I'm not going to get into a debate over whether or not one person thinks they're cooperative, someone else thinks they're uncooperative. We're looking for information. If we got the information we need, we can move on. If we didn't, we may have to sit down and talk again. That's all relative.

QUESTION: Do you feel like he was forthcoming?

RAMSEY: Again, I'm not going to get into that -- that level of detail. We were able to speak with the congressman. We're going to review the information that we've got and see where we go from there.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) the Levy family and what have you told them?

RAMSEY: I've not personally spoken with the Levy family in about a week and a half. I spoke with Mr. Levy when he paged me, and I spoke with him then. But our detectives are in constant touch with the Levy family and with Mr. Martin and with everybody involved in the case.

QUESTION: Is the family happy with the investigation and the progress in the investigation?

RAMSEY: Well, you'd have to ask the family, but quite frankly, until we can answer that question about their daughter, there's going to be some level of frustration. I would feel it if it were me. So -- but I think they also appreciate that we're doing everything we can.

QUESTION: How much longer are you prepared to do that grid search with the cadets?

RAMSEY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). What?

QUESTION: How much longer are you prepared to go with the search, the foot search with the cadets?

RAMSEY: We estimate that it's going to take probably another week in order to complete that particular search. All of you here know the rough terrain we're talking about. They describe Rock Creek as a park, but it's really an urban forest and other very rough- terrain areas within the District that we're going through. So it will be about another week. They will suspend it for the weekend, because their day off. And again, we're holding down overtime costs and so forth. But we're going to continue to move forward until we complete.

Sir?

QUESTION: The information that you still needed to -- for this fourth meeting, did it relate to a profile of Chandra or did it relate to furthering the investigation?

RAMSEY: Again, you know, I'm not going to get into the specifics of why we felt we needed to speak with the congressman a fourth time. That's something that the investigators, the task force that we have decides every day they meet. Every day I get briefed on certain aspects of the case, there's some detail, quite frankly, I'm not interested in knowing. But I'm confident in the abilities of the people that I have on the frontlines working this case.

QUESTION: Chief, the talk of obstruction of justice charges possibly have been building in recent days. Is it exaggerated?

RAMSEY: Well, that's why we have U.S. attorneys. Part of that group are attorneys. What we care about is trying to find Chandra Levy. There's a lot of information that's come out during the course of this investigation. Prosecutors will go through some of that. Investigators go through it, and then we sit down and decide what it is, if anything, we have: not only when we're talking about the congressman -- and again, I'd like to say that there are a lot of people that we're talking about and this investigation is much broader than any one individual. But the attorneys will make those kinds of decisions.

QUESTION: Would you agree that there is a pattern forming?

RAMSEY: No, I'm not going to get into that. I mean, my personal opinion about this thing means absolutely nothing. We're dealing in fact. We're trying to find Chandra Levy. We're not going to be -- we're not going to lose focus in that effort to find Chandra Levy.

And I realize that there are a lot of people that are interested in this case. We'll keep you informed as best we can about developments, but we have to understand there is still an investigation taking place. And believe it or not, there's some information that we may have that some of you folks have not gotten yet. We have to remain that integrity, because this could change to a criminal investigation, and if that's the case, then we have to be very careful about some of the information that we have that gets into the public domain.

So, that's just the nature of the beast and what we're going through right now, but we're trying to be as forward as possible.

QUESTION: Chief, what about Gary Condit's aide, Michael Dayton? Will you be seeking an interview with him?

RAMSEY: Well, again, anybody who could add value to this investigation, that includes the Congressional aides, we've either already spoken to or are deciding whether or not we need to speak to again, those kinds of things. So no cards are off the table because these are people who may have some knowledge that we're interested in.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you, Chief.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you.

RAMSEY: Thank you, all.

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: D.C.'s metropolitan police chief, Charles Ramsey, talking about what information they're trying to get out of the fourth interview that they had with Congressman Gary Condit last evening. They met for a fourth time with him, said that they're going to do some evaluating of the responses that they got from him. Didn't want to get into a lot of details, however, but he said he talked a little bit about the resources and he talked a little bit about language.

But watching with us also is our national correspondent, Bob Franken, and we'll bring him in and he can go over some of the information with us, too. Hi, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi. And of course, the focus of most of the questions had to do with the fact that last night Congressman Gary Condit, instead of taking the dinner break when the house agricultural committee broke up for a while, he went down to his lawyer's office, Abbe Lowell's office, where he met with Washington, D.C. police investigators and FBI investigators, along with his lawyers, to -- for the most part, we're told by sources, spend time on this FBI psychological profile that's in the works, the profile of Chandra Levy.

Investigators hope that they can get as complete an idea of her mind-set as possible. It might influence their investigation into what happened to her. Now, of course, Condit was being called in for that, because he has admitted to the investigators, according to sources, that he had a romantic relationship with the Chandra Levy, which investigators believe would give him some special insights into the way that she was thinking.

It is still really unclear just how far from that investigators went. D.C. police had questions about such as things as his calendar on May 1st, the last day we knew of Chandra Levy. And the chief did not go into specifics, but we do have an indication that, at least in the generic sense, some of those questions came up. As for whether Condit is going to be interviewed another time, the chief left that possibility open.

One of things that I found very interesting is the chief's unwillingness to answer the question: Was Condit totally cooperative? Was he forthcoming? There has been criticism from many people, including the Levy family all along, that he has not been. The chief did not absolutely clear that up.

KELLEY: Okay, Bob. We've got some chat questions for you, too, and also some questions that we have point by point from some of the things that we heard earlier and this afternoon. Here is one from this afternoon from MariGrace Centofante. I hope I pronounced that right, MariGrace. "Will the police continue to question Condit?

FRANKEN: Well, they will continue to if they feel like they need to. The chief was not able to give any indication of that. We are told by sources connected with Condit that they didn't ask for another interview. It should be pointed out that given the nature of this investigation, they don't have the power to require that. So the short answer is we don't know.

KELLEY: And then also there was a matter of language, Bob. Can you cover that? The chief was talking about, once again, where they've said he's not a suspect, the chief said he's not a suspect because there's been no crime that they have put in yet?

FRANKEN: As a matter of fact, he of course is literally correct. This is not a criminal matter, therefore you wouldn't have any suspects. And the chief said they wouldn't really address that until, and if it became a criminal matter. And that, of course, would be if we found that Chandra Levy had been the victim of foul play of one sort or another.

So at the moment, of course, he is not a suspect. He couldn't possibly be a suspect. I am told by other police sources that they really, at this point at least, do not believe that Condit had anything to do with the disappearance of Chandra Levy. But I am always told that that is "at this point."

KELLEY: Can we cover a couple of two points here, too, Bob? Talking about the searches -- and Chief Ramsey talked about that the search will be off for the weekend and they need a day off, and also that they're trying to keep some overtime costs down. Where are we in the searches? What areas have been covered now? And also, about the resources being drained? FRANKEN: Well, of course that was a conversation that was brought up there. And many people who believed that there has been an inordinate amount of attention to this case, and that it has taken away from the ability of the police department to function otherwise.

The chief repeatedly denies that. He said, for instance, that the searches that you see now are recruits from the police academy who would not be otherwise occupied, doing full-scale police work anyway, and that for the most part, they've been able to use resources that were available to them without compromising other police work.

In answer to your question, "what are they searching?" The focus has been, for the last couple of weeks, on the woodlands that surround the city, the various parks. Not just Rock Creek Park, which was near where Chandra Levy's apartment was, but in other ones, and that is going to continue, probably for another week.

The reason it doesn't go on any longer than it does each day is simply because of the weather and the fatigue factor.

KELLEY: OK, we have another question off of live chat. As you know, we do them in the morning and this afternoon, too, while the shows are on. "Was the FBI present doing the questioning of Condit?" That's from Michelle Rosen.

FRANKEN: Absolutely. The FBI, as a matter of fact, was always part of this plan for the fourth interview. The FBI provided the profile of putting together the mental picture of Chandra Levy. The question was, would Washington, D.C. investigators by present? And we found out ultimately that they were in, also.

KELLEY: OK, Bob Franken, thanks very much for keeping track of all of this. And we'll continue to visit with you, as you well know.

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