MODESTO, Calif. – The parents of Chandra Levy remained secluded in their home Wednesday after learning that a body found in a Washington, D.C., park was that of their long-missing daughter.
Dr. Robert and Susan Levy were said to be distraught and did not immediately plan to appear in public.
"Two parents have just received the most horrifying news they could ever receive," family spokeswoman Judy Smith said outside the family's home. "Certainly no parent would think they would ever bury their child. It's usually the other way."
Reports conflicted about how the parents got the bad news. Family lawyer George Arata said word came via media reports. But Smith said Washington Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey telephoned the couple beforehand to tell them that dental records had confirmed the identity of the skeletal remains, found not far from Chandra's apartment in the Capitol.
Outside the family's one-story brick home, a crowd of reporters massed on the sidewalk and a wall of satellite trucks lined the street. It was a replay of last summer, when Chandra's disappearance — and her romantic links to the area's longtime Democratic congressman, Gary Condit — gripped the nation.
A friend had been at the Levy house Wednesday morning and left just before the remains were identified. "They held out so much hope, and they've been so strong. It's just devastating to them," Donna Raley said.
Neighbor Joanne Tittle's eyes were red and puffy from crying. "My gut instinct was hopeful," she said. "I hoped she was in a foreign county or something."
Ribbons that lined neighborhood trees and lamp posts a year ago were tattered and faded.
Condit, who lost re-election in March after his political support crumbled amid the scandal, was in Washington Wednesday. His offices referred all calls to his Los Angeles attorney, Mark Geragos.
"Congressman Gary Condit and his family want to express their heartfelt sorrow and condolences to the Levy family. The Levy family will remain in our prayers," the lawyer said.
Gov. Gray Davis said Wednesday he and his wife were "deeply grieved. ... I hope the Levys find some sense of closure from today's event." Levy had worked as an intern in Davis' office before moving to Washington for an internship with the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Geragos said Levy's death seems to parallel the cases of two other missing girls in Washington and supports Condit's belief that a serial killer may be responsible.
"It's certainly not a red-letter day for the D.C police," the lawyer said. "If, as reported, she left with only her tennis shoes and her keys, and was going jogging, wouldn't you look on the jogging trails? How do you miss somebody? It's mind-boggling."
"My feeling is that the police have a lot of explaining to do," Geragos added.
Speculation and rumors dogged Condit after Levy disappeared. He denied having anything to do with the disappearance but he acknowledged to investigators that he had an affair with her, a police source said.
"But everything he went through pales in comparison with what the Levy family is going through," Geragos said.