Family, Modesto Community Mourn Levy

Hundreds of mourners at Chandra Levy's memorial service Tuesday listened to a harpist play "Memories" and were given chocolate peanut butter cups — the young woman's favorite candy.

Chandra Levy's family and 1,200 family, friends and members of the Modesto, Calif., community joined Levy's parents just hours after authorities in Washington announced that the former government intern had been murdered.

The 90-minute ceremony in the city convention center included speeches from Levy's grandmother, great-aunt, brother, and friends — who recalled her as a bubbly, compassionate young woman eager to explore the world.

There were no remarks from the 24-year-old intern's parents, Robert and Susan Levy.

A string quartet from the Modesto symphony orchestra played in the hallway as mourners streamed in. The stage included flowers and three photographs of the young woman, including two baby pictures.

Rabbi Paul Gordon, whose voice wavered at times as he offered words of solace to Levy's family, made brief mention of the worldwide attention that surrounded Levy's disappearance.

He asked God to give the Levys strength and lamented the loss of "a good person taken from us too soon."

There was no mention of Levy's time in Washington, where she was an intern for the federal Bureau of Prisons, and not a word of her relationship with Rep. Gary Condit, whose political career was ruined after Levy's disappearance last spring.

Instead, the service focused on Levy's personality, giving many in the audience an introduction to a woman they never met.

Her grandmother, Lee Pollack, told of watching Levy grow from a baby who looked like Betty Boop into a determined, adventurous woman. On a trip together to Paris, 15-year-old Chandra insisted on riding the subway alone to the Louvre.

Another day, she informed her grandmother she would walk back to their hotel by herself rather than take a taxi. Pollack said the self-assured Levy got out of the cab and "vanished into the crowd."

"I feel like right now Chandra has vanished into the universe," Pollack said.

A childhood friend, Marjorie White, described how Chandra was shy and quiet when she was young, a girl who seemed to watch everyone closely and learn from them. White expressed gratitude for Levy's ability to offer friendship "without judgment and bias."

Another friend, Mike Vanden Bosch, who met Levy when they were both newsroom assistants at the Modesto Bee newspaper, recalled her smoky voice, loud laugh and her ever-present sweatshirt from the University of Southern California, where she attended graduate school.

Levy's little brother, Adam, said he thought he picked up some musical ability just from being around her.

"She was trusting, considerate and kind. She was every father's daughter," said Chandra Levy's uncle, Paul Katz. "We're doing the best we can. We're healing. We're walking the road."

Chandra's skeletal remains were found last week in Washington's Rock Creek Park. How she died remains a mystery.

Police said they have no prime suspect in the case. They may again interview Condit and Ingmar Guandique, who was convicted of assaulting two joggers in the park last year.

Condit, who is married with children, admitted to police that he had an affair with Levy, a Washington police source has said. Condit has denied any role in her disappearance and police have said he is not a suspect.

However, attorney Billy Martin, who is pursuing a private investigation on behalf of the Levy family, said Condit "knows something."

"Somebody went to extraordinary means to conceal Chandra's body," Martin added. "We hope that this case will not go unsolved. Somebody out there knows information that would help solve the murder."

Condit, dogged by the scandal, lost the Democratic primary in March. Through his attorney, he has expressed his condolences to the Levy family.

For many in Modesto, a city of 188,000 in California's agricultural heartland, the memorial service marked the sad end of a gruesome story.

"I didn't know them but following this for all these months, I just really felt like I went through this ordeal with them, and I just felt the need to be here," said Charles Byrd, 24, as he left the service. "It felt comforting."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.