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Police Search Abandoned Buildings for Chandra Levy's Body

Aired July 12, 2001 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our top story: authorities investigating the disappearance of Chandra Levy stepped up the search for a body today. While police have said for weeks there's no evidence any crime has been committed, a spokesman says they have to explore the possibility the former Washington intern may be dead. CNN national correspondent Bob Franken is here to bring us up to date -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And as part of that effort, they are now going to go and search abandoned buildings, particularly in the area where both Condit and Chandra Levy lived -- Congressman Condit and Chandra Levy lived.

You are seeing a live picture right now of the area where it is going to begin. We are expecting in the next few minutes for the contingent of police who are going to be searching for abandoned building to go inside and see if they can find any indications of foul play, anything that might be germane to the case. We are told that if they do, they will call for the cadaver dogs, and those dogs will, in fact, be brought in to start sniffing around to see if they can find anything. Obviously, the hope would be that they don't find the body of Chandra Levy.

I will also point out that this is something that they are planning to do at some point with the landfills around Washington. That's not as easy to pull off as doing this. Now, this is an area of town that is fairly affluent, so there's not going to be that many abandoned buildings in this area. The real estate prices are too high. But the possibility exists that they could go to other areas.

And of course, all of this is part of an investigation that has intensified particularly because of the role of the Congressman Gary Condit. He, of course, has been the reason, the catalyst for all the attention that has been paid to this investigation since day one. Cameras are at his apartment too. Every move that he makes, every time that there is anything that happens anywhere regarding Congressman Condit, you will see it probably on television.

Of course, he's not saying anything on television. That has been one of the ongoing conversations that's been conducted as this case has gone on. And Chandra Levy has not, in fact, shown up yet after more than 10 weeks.

Now, many people are criticizing the Washington police for acting too slowly, and the chief of police, in comments he made just a short while ago, really seemed to be addressing that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES RAMSEY, CHIEF OF POLICE, WASHINGTON, D.C. POLICE DEPARTMENT: We need to maybe recheck some areas that maybe we haven't checked that we need to check. Abandoned building certainly falls in that category. Our second and third districts which are in that area of the city around where Ms. Levy is known to have frequented. We will start checking those.

There's some areas of our city that are fairly remote. If one wanted to dispose of a body and not have it found by bikers, hikers, you know, things of that nature, where would you put it? Those are the kinds of questions -- what if she is missing intentionally and has changed her appearance?

We're working to see whether or not we can get some computer- generated work done that change the hair style, hair color, because the only pictures today have been pretty much two different photographs that we've seen of her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKEN: And, as we pointed out, they are about to begin the search that we reported last night was going to begin, and that's the search for the abandoned buildings in this area. You can, in fact, see the news crews that have been called in.

One of the big problems, of course, in this entire investigation, as far as the police are concerned, is managing all the massive amount of attention that has been paid to it, worldwide intention that intensifies every day. There seems to be some new development every day that is more and more outlandish. This is just one of the ways that it has occurred. These are searches of abandoned building.

Of course, as we are all well aware, the night before last there was a very thorough, three-and-a-half-hour search of Congressman Condit's apartment -- which, by the way, is not far from where you just saw those cameras. In any case, very thorough search. We are told that only a few items were brought out, including articles of clothing. And the first thing that investigators for the D.C. police department have to determine if there's any good reason to send those items to the FBI crime lab, which is a very sophisticated forensics lab in the city.

One other thing: the lie detector negotiations. The lawyer for Congressman Condit, Abbe Lowell, the other day offered that among the considerations he would give to Washington police was a promise that he would negotiate with them over a possible polygraph. That was in the wake of all the publicity of the Levy family demanding that the congressman take a lie detector test.

Well, these negotiations under way. They are -- have hit a snag a little bit. The lawyer for Congressman Condit wants to put some limitations on the scope of the questions. The police chief just a short while ago said, no limitations, we determine what's necessary for the investigation.

A lot going on. One final matter, and that is the matter of Anne Marie Smith. Of course, this is such a complex story now. Anne Marie Smith is the flight attendant who claims she too had a personal relationship, a romantic relationship with Congressman Condit and claims that he asked her to lie about it under oath in a sworn affidavit. She's been here the last couple of days being interviewed of the U.S. attorney's office, the FBI, local police. Those interviews seem to be over; at least, she's left for now. We are being told that there is going to be more of an investigation. It really is sort of a preliminary effort to decide whether a full- fledged investigation should go forward.

So, I think I've caught you up to date on just about everything that's going on around this case, which of course centers on 24-year- old Chandra Levy and the fact that she's has still not turned up.

ALLEN: You have, and we thank you. Bob Franken, we'll be back to you if there are any further developments.

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