MODESTO, Calif. – In the year after Chandra Levy mysteriously disappeared from her Washington apartment, Rep. Gary Condit was sympathetic, but mostly silent. At times, he was defiant.
It was no different when her skeletal remains were found partly buried in a Washington park.
In a scene reminiscent of last summer, Condit ducked the media and had one of his handlers — a high-profile Los Angeles defense lawyer — do the talking.
Attorney Mark Geragos expressed sorrow for Levy's family on behalf of Condit, and then used the opportunity to criticize Washington police. The discovery Wednesday exonerates Condit and supports his theory her death was the work of a serial killer, Geragos said.
Washington Police Chief Charles Ramsey said Thursday that detectives may want to speak with Condit again.
Condit, 54, a married grandfather, has acknowledged an affair with the 24-year-old federal intern, a police source said, but has denied any involvement in her disappearance. Police have said repeatedly he is not a suspect, but have expressed frustration it took four interviews to get adequate information from him.
Whatever the cause of Levy's death, her name and Condit's forever will be linked. Only after word spread of a relationship, did Levy's disappearance gain nonstop news coverage. Interest — and later resentment — intensified as he avoided public appearances and reporters' questions.
Abandoned by many Democratic allies and running in a newly drawn district, Condit was swept out of office in the March primary by a protege, Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza.
Still, support remains strong in his hometown of Ceres, just south of Modesto, where his political career began on the city council.
Neighbors in his neatly trimmed subdivision said Condit had been connected unfairly to Levy's tragedy and the media had pried into his private life and rushed to judgment.
"Everybody jumped the gun," said Pam Adomyetz, who voted for Condit this year.
Not everyone on the block, however, thinks Condit should be judged only by his work in Congress. "He was dishonest toward his family and toward the nation," said Genell Michael.
At Condit's district office Thursday, there was no word from the congressman. Reporters were told to call his lawyer.
A flier announcing a $25,000 reward for finding Levy was removed from the front window in the morning, a little more than a year after it was posted.