WASHINGTON - Investigators in the 2001 slaying of Chandra Levy have prepared an arrest warrant for a Salvadoran immigrant convicted of similar attacks in the park where the former intern disappeared, a person close to the investigation said Saturday.
The person told The Associated Press that Ingmar Guandique's arrest is imminent and an official announcement is expected soon. The person was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Levy had just completed an internship with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons when she went missing in May 2001 in Washington, D.C. The 24-year-old was wearing jogging clothes when she vanished, and her remains were discovered in Rock Creek Park a year later.
Authorities questioned former U.S. Rep. Gary Condit in Levy's disappearance, but he was never a suspect in her death. Condit was reportedly having an affair with Levy, and the negative publicity from the case was cited as a main reason the California lawmaker lost re-election in 2002.
Guandique, 27, has denied any involvement in Levy's disappearance and killing. However, investigators interviewed him in the Levy case after he was convicted of attacking two women joggers in Rock Creek Park shortly after her disappearance.
Guandique was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for those attacks. The federal Bureau of Prisons lists an inmate in California with the same sentence and age, but with the spelling Guandigue instead of Guandique. A message seeking comment was not returned.
Levy's father, Robert Levy, said Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier called his home late Friday and said there would be an arrest in a few days.
Robert Levy said he and his wife, Susan, were not told the identity of the person to be arrested "but we all know who it is." He would not elaborate but said they would favor a life sentence for the killer.
"If someone is executed, they really don't suffer too much," he said from his home in Modesto, Calif.
A second person aware of the investigation, a law enforcement official who spoke to investigators, said Saturday that the break in the case came in part from DNA evidence. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Levy investigation is ongoing, said DNA evidence was either retested or collected, and it was connected to Guandique.
The official said D.C. police have interviewed Guandique at least twice, and the case has been sent to a grand jury.
An attorney for Condit said the new revelations clear the former congressman.
"This should give the Levys the answer and closure they deserve, and remove the unfair cloud that has hung over the Condits for too long," said Abbe Lowell, a Washington lawyer.
Condit did not return several messages left by The Associated Press but said in a statement to WJLA-TV in Washington that he is glad the Levy family is finally getting answers.
"For my family, I am glad that their years of standing together in the face of such adversity have finally led to the truth," he said in the statement, posted on the station's Web site. "It is unfortunate that an insatiable appetite for sensationalism blocked so many from searching for the real answers for so long. I had always hoped to have the opportunity to tell my side of this story, but too many were not prepared to listen. Now I plan to do so, but I will have no further comments on this story at this time."
The Levys said the news about the arrest warrant did not make up for the loss of their daughter.
Photographs of Chandra adorned the living room of the Levy home, which sits on a quiet street in a suburban community surrounded by farms and orchards. The piano she played remains in the front room, but is now out of tune. Her bedroom has become part storage area and part shrine, with more pictures of Chandra hanging next her mother's paintings.
"There's not a day or night it's not on our minds," Susan Levy said. "When it comes to holiday time and family get-togethers, there's a big void."
Lanier, the D.C. police chief, said Saturday that she could not comment out of respect for the Levy family and the investigators and prosecutors who have worked on the case.
"It would simply be inappropriate for me to violate the integrity of their work by commenting before it is appropriate to do so," Lanier said in an e-mail.
Susan Levy said the couple had been meeting with a special task force of Washington police working on the case. "We got the attention that may lead to an arrest and a conviction," she said.
After Condit lost his re-election bid, he sued several media outlets that had connected him to Levy's disappearance and death. He reached an undisclosed settlement with three tabloid newspapers.