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Police Chief Charles Ramsey Briefs the Press on Bones Found in Rock Creek Park

Aired May 22, 2002 - 14:42   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.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Back to northwestern Washington, Rock Creek Park. Police Chief Charles Ramsey, again with reporters.

CHIEF CHARLES RAMSEY, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: Of all the different items we've found so far. But the items of clothing recovered are consistent with clothing that would be worn by a female.

QUESTION: Are they consistent, Chief, with the clothing that Chandra Levy was last seen in?

RAMSEY: I'm not aware that anyone actually saw her moments before she was last accounted on, on the last date that we know she used the Internet. But certainly, we're looking at items of clothing, size, type, things of that nature.

We aren't certain yet who it is that we have found up there. But obviously, that's part what we would be doing, is checking clothing. But the real confirmation will come through dental records or other means that the medical examiner will be using.

QUESTION: When do you expect (OFF-MIKE)?

RAMSEY: Well, I don't want to get into the specifics of the exact type of clothing that we found. I'm just stating that it is consistent with items of clothing that would be worn by a woman. As far as the length of time it will take for any kind of positive ID, that something is very difficult to determine. It depends on the medical examiner. But he's going to work very aggressively to try to do this as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: Tonight?

RAMSEY: He's going to try to do it as quickly as possible. I can't give you a timeline because again, these things are not easy to do. We don't have a whole lot to work with, but we've got enough to be able to at least begin the process of trying to identify the remains.

QUESTION: You had indicated that you have talked to the Levys. Did you let them know that it was in fact a female that they have found?

RAMSEY: I didn't hear all of your question. QUESTION: You stated earlier that you had spoken to the Levys. You said just now that you're sure that these remains are female. Did you tell them at that time that the remains were in fact a female?

RAMSEY: I didn't say I was sure the remains were female. I said there were items found consistent with items of clothing worn by a female. That's two different things.

And did that information get passed along to the Levys? Yes, it did get passed along to the Levy family. But again, understand that we do not know the identity of the person that we found, nor do we know at this time with 100 percent certainty the age or sex of the person that we have found.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)?

RAMSEY: I don't want to get into the specifics around the type of clothing and so forth. But if you look at the clothing, it would be consistent with someone who had been there for a period of time, prior to our winter.

QUESTION: What about the size of the clothing?

RAMSEY: Again, that's all stuff that we're looking at right now. I'm simply trying to update you best we can. We have a family out there that is still suffering through this whole incident. I want to be careful as to what I say, because this is not something that people ought to be hearing about on the news. We're giving them updates as we come. So until we get positive ID, we're going to stay away from that kind of speculation.

But we do feel that the remains that we have found could possibly be the remains of a female, only because of the clothing. Not for any other reason. We could find that we're in error on that, and it could be a male. It's skeletal remains, so we just can't tell.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: What type of remains have you specifically found?

RAMSEY: Well, skeletal remains. And again, not all in one place. But we are locating remains and factors, are continuing to process now, items of clothing and anything else that may be of an evidentiary nature. SO we're roping off the scene and we're preparing for quite a period of time that we're going to be here processing.

QUESTION: Is there anything about the crime scene that would indicate that the body was placed there, was taken there?

RAMSEY: Too early to tell all that right now. We're in the very early stages. That's obviously something -- we'll be looking at a lot of things. But it's far too early to get into that kind of speculation.

QUESTION: What is the nature of the evidence that tells you this was there prior to the winter? RAMSEY: Well, I mean, a lot of the remains were underneath leaves. The leaves would indicate to you that those were leaves from the fall. Those kinds of things can give you a quick indication.

But again, a forensic pathologist can take a look at the remains and really give you a pretty accurate picture, in terms of just how long they have actually been there. Is this something within a year? Is it two years or longer? They can tell from a lot of the evidence we will be collecting, which will include a lot of the physical evidence in the area, including things like leaves and dirt.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) place where Chandra Levy would have jogged to?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, a jogger, I would imagine anything is possible, depending on the condition you're in and how far you run. I mean, again, we're in the middle of an investigation right now, with a scene that has just been uncovered.

We don't really know whether or not this is in fact her. It could be someone else. And we don't know at this point in time how the remains got to the location where they were found.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RAMSEY: We've recovered several items, clothing and another item. I don't want to get into specifics about some of the things that we have found on that.

QUESTION: Were the remains in a shallow grave?

RAMSEY: Right now we're still processing the scene. Again, I have not personally been up there. Only our mobile crime, medical examiners, those people, detectives, that have a real need to be up there have been there. So we're getting information as it's coming out.

We're limiting the number of people that have access, for obvious reasons, such as contamination of the scene. We have to search a very wide area to find out if there is another scene. There could be a secondary scene. We don't know that yet. It's still too early.

And there's a very dense foliage here, as you can well see. So it's going to take some time to process this to the point where we feel comfortable that we have everything we need to have.

QUESTION: Is this an area you searched earlier?

RAMSEY: We searched all 1,700 acres of Rock Creek Park. But you can see Rock Creek Park for yourself. You could be standing next to something and not see it, as thick as the woods are here. And they are very, very thick and we said that from the very beginning, that it is possible to search and still not find. And there's also a presumption that you're making, that it was there during the time of the search. We don't know the answer to that. The body could have been deposited after the search, because the search took place soon after the disappearance.

So all those are pieces of the puzzle we have to put together.

QUESTION: Does it appear someone buried these remains?

RAMSEY: Again, I don't have that -- I'm not going to get into all that right now. I'm just trying to give you a little update as we come along. But right now, we're right in the middle of it.

The park police is helping out. It is my understanding we're getting some portable lighting from the park police. The National Guard is supposed to send us a little something. So, we're getting all of the help and assistance we need at this point in time.

QUESTION: Can you describe this as a remote area, or is it off the road?

RAMSEY: No, it's remote. It's not something that -- that's why apparently it's been there for a while, because had this person not been looking for turtles, is what I'm told, it is not a place where people would normally be going. And that's why it took so long.

In fact, he never saw it. The dog alerted to it. And it was after the dog did, that he did it. It's a considerable difference.

QUESTION: I understand the park police were notified first?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's correct.

QUESTION: Do you normally call D.C. in on these cases?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. As you know, this is a great example of collaboration here. This is primary national park service property. The United States Park Police police this area. And so we were the first responder.

And then, in a normal course of investigation, it is turned over to MPD. Chief Ramsey's team was called in. And so you'll see us working seamlessly through the night, assisting his investigators with the scene, and with anything else that they may need.

QUESTION: Had your officers sort of looking for Ms. Levy here in the park, thinking this was a possible place?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's important to remember, anytime we would find remains, our first thought is, do we have any missing persons? And so, because it obviously was human remains, we would, in the course of action, call MPD as we did today. And then work from there.

As we're talking, too, the message that you can help us get out is to thank the people for their cooperation. Obviously, this area is going to be shut down for a significant period of time. And so we appreciate folks' tolerance. They would want us to do a thorough investigation to determine the identity of any person, if it was a member of their family. And so we thank them and you for helping us get that message out.

QUESTION: Are there any other missing persons cases, other than Chandra Levy?

RAMSEY: Well, obviously we'll go through all of our records and all of our files, to see whether or not there was someone that has not been accounted for. There are hundreds of thousands of people that come up missing in the United States every year.

And if we do not have anything in our records that would help us identify the remains, then obviously we will spread that search outward to see whether or not this is someone that could have been missing from another state, or anywhere else that may in fact be missing. We just don't know the answer to that. There are thousands of people that are missing who have not been found.

I would also like to mention that we will be establishing a perimeter. And I would request that all members of the media honor the tape that you see, and not do anything that could possibly contaminate the scene. This is something that is very important. We do need to gather evidence. This is something that we're very, very concerned about. And we will have people out here throughout the night to maintain security of the scene.

Thank you. I'll give you updates as more information comes up. That's all I have today. Thank you.

HEMMER: Quite a bit more information offered there from the police chief, Charles Ramsey. What is very interesting is that lights are now being brought into this area, to be set up to continue the search later tonight. But clearly they are finding items on the ground that lead them to continue that search.

Clothing was mentioned there. And certainly, dental records, a key component of this investigation now going forward.

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