Sitting on his daughter's bed with its fancy heart-shaped scrollwork — surrounded by her lava lamp, boom box, TV set and college baseball cap — Robert Levy broke down and wept.
It's been almost four weeks since the Modesto, Calif., cancer specialist last heard from his beloved Chandra. But he and his wife, Susan, haven't given up hope that the missing Washington intern is alive.
The couple are quick to admit that their lives have become an emotional roller coaster.
"It keeps going on and on," said Robert.
"Your hopes never go up too much, but you've got to keep some faith alive."
Robert and Susan last heard from their 24-year-old daughter on May 1, when she e-mailed them to say she was checking out airfares before flying home.
Hazel-eyed, dark-haired Chandra had just finished a 6-month internship with the Bureau of Prisons and was to receive a master's degree in public administration from the University of Southern California.
When she never arrived home, the spotlight fell on her local congressman, Gary Condit, a conservative Democrat who is called "Mr. Blow Dry" for his perfect hairdo. He clammed up after calling her "a great person and a good friend."
To keep Chandra's story alive, her parents have given interview upon interview in which they described their daughter as a level-headed woman not likely to become involved in a reckless romantic relationship.
They said they had often read the heartbreaking stories of missing children, but never dreamed of finding themselves in the same situation.
"It's the worst thing in the world," said Robert.
"It's heartbreaking for all of us," agreed Susan. "If anybody who's holding her reads this, open your heart and think. Let us have her home."