The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Chandra Levy Case

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," March 3, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And finally, an arrest in the Chandra Levy murder case. United States attorney Jeffrey Taylor spoke earlier today.


TAYLOR: Earlier today, a judge of the superior court of the District of Columbia signed an arrest warrant charging 17-year-old Ingmar Guandique for first-degree murder in the death of Chandra Levy.

As stated in the affidavit submitted in support of that warrant, we allege that Guandique murdered Ms. Levy on or about May 1, 2001, in Rock Creek Park in northwest Washington, D.C.

We believe that Ms. Levy was a random victim of Guandique, who allegedly attacked and killed her as she walked her dog through Rock Creek Park on May 1, 2001.

Mr. Guandique, of course, is presumed innocent until or unless proved guilty in a court of law. As I said, he will be brought back to the District of Columbia to be presented on the first-degree murder charge, which carries a 30 mandatory minimum sentence, and a maximum term of 60 years in prison.


VAN SUSTEREN: It is expected that Guandique will be brought to Washington, D.C., from California, as the prosecutor said, to face trial for first degree murder and other charges.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden and former homicide detective Ted Williams join us. Ted, what took so long to make this arrest?

TED WILLIAMS, FORMER HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: What you found was some poor police work in the beginning, and as a result of that, it took awhile longer. They had to put the puzzle together.

They arrested Guandique and charged him with the assault on two joggers. He was given ten years in jail. He went to jail for those ten years. And there is always something, Greta, that I find with these people in jail. They love to talk. And Guandique talked, and the more he talked, the more information that the government was able to gather, and they found a way to effectuate an arrest.

VAN SUSTEREN: But a lot of people talk to act like big shots in prison, which is hard for any of us to believe. And he knew that he had been at least a person that was a suspect, a person of interest. So the talk -- they still need to prove the case.

Dr. Baden, this case, she disappeared May 1, 2001. Her remains were a little over a year later. Had the police done really good work in the beginning, would her remains have provided more clues as to who killed her?


If the police had let the cadaver dogs go in the area where the body was, they would have picked up the odor of the body very quickly back in May and June of 2001.

And a lot of that was lost because the dogs were not allowed to run in the areas. There was kind of a steep incline that you and Ted and I appreciated a year later, and they didn't go there.

But what Ted says is absolutely right. They did not do the job right in the first place. But he was still a suspect after he was found to have attacked two other joggers. And they even gave him a lie detector test back in 2002, and he passed the lie-detector test, and then they let him go. But he does not speak English, and the person doing the polygraph did not speak Spanish, so they did it through an interpreter. And that is not the way to give a lie-detector test. And it would be interesting to know what new evidence they have now apart from the snitch.

Watch Greta's interview

VAN SUSTEREN: But the problem is --let me ask you this, if that if she were sexually assaulted and there would have been some biological evidence, for instance, on May 2001, if they had found the body in June compared to finding her body a year later, wouldn't that have been more effective way for proving the case, assuming that this is even the guy?

BADEN: Absolutely. In May, June, July, there would have been a lot of trace evidence-hairs, semen, saliva, blood on the body in the clothing.

They did have, I think her jogging pants were tied in a knot and found a year later. And there was a lot of potential forensic evidence that would have immediately given a very good answer to who done it.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Ted, unless they have more evidence, I think just having a jailhouse snitch bragging in a letter, or something - plus they didn't talk to one of the other women who was assaulted to see if there was any sort of mirror image crime, or anything.

It's like the police work makes it very difficult for this prosecutor.

WILLIAMS: Greta, you just said what is the Achilles' heel in this prosecution of Ingmar Guandique. They have a lot circumstantial evidence, and, quite naturally, there can be a conviction on circumstantial evidence.

But the fact about it is the physical evidence, as Michael Baden has said, is gone. The bones were the only things that were left in the pond.

VAN SUSTEREN: But the circumstantial evidence is that he assaulted two other women and pled to it, which is in the same area. But he did not kill them.

And then he has statements to people, and he passed a polygraph. What would really be great to prove the case is some physical evidence tying them together, but, instead -- you know snitches are-

Dr. Baden, I assume you know this, sir, and you can add to this as well, is that people in prison set all sorts of stupid things. They admit to crimes they never committed.

BADEN: Absolutely. And they'll make things up, the snitches will make things up to get a better deal.

But in this case, when they arrested this fellow in 2002, he admitted to have seen Chandra Levy on the jogging track. He apparently was the last person to have seen her. And the park police did not tell the Washington, D.C. police that information, so they did not know that. And there was a lot of miscommunication between the different agencies involved in this.

VAN SUSTEREN: But here is the problem with that, Dr. Baden, is everybody in this area knew about his disappearance. And the fact that he bragged about it to the police, it is hard for anybody who's a law-abiding citizen to imagine that people would make up that stuff.

And even on occasion, the police get it wrong as to what someone says. Physical evidence actually tying them --

WILLIAMS: You are right. The physical evidence would be the nexus that would tie this case together. Now --

VAN SUSTEREN: Which is why the police doing that run search on day one is --

WILLIAMS: There is no doubt that they screwed up. But they did find in his cell, and it really may lead to something or nothing, is a photo of Chandra Levy when they initially went in. But, again, he may have just taken on this aura-hey, look, she's there, and just became part of this investigation. But I'm simply saying, yes, the police screwed it up in the beginning. But we have to take our hats off to Chief Lanier and the --

VAN SUSTEREN: This is a different police chief. This is a new police chief.

WILLIAMS: She's a different police chief. And I'm the first to say, and I've been on this station saying that the first chief was grandstanding this investigation.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Baden, what was the cause of her death?

BADEN: When the autopsy was done on the remains, the cause of death was undetermined homicide. I did a second autopsy at the request of the family, and there is evidence there that she was strangled. There was a broken hyoid bone. So it would be interesting how--

VAN SUSTEREN: But even that's bad. Do you know what the defense lawyer is going to say is that medical examiner one does not have a clue. Medical examiner number two says she was strangled. What are we to believe? That's the problem, because it was so-if they found the remains early, we wouldn't have this discussion, and that's why it's so painful to this family and for this prosecutor.

BADEN: How far was this from where you live, Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: Not far, I might add. Probably about 3,000 yards, maybe, I don't know. Not far.

WILLIAMS: But this brings some closure -

VAN SUSTEREN: That is why I do not jog.

WILLIAMS: This may bring some closure to the Levy family, and they deserve closure.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Baden, Ted, thank you both.

BADEN: Thank you, Greta.

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