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Police Receive Tip in Chandra Levy Case

Aired August 1, 2001 - 16:44   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: Now we want to talk with CNN consultant Mike Brooks, a former member of the D.C. Metropolitan police, who worked on an FBI task force for six year.

Mike, what do you make of this tip?

MIKE BROOKS, CNN CONSULTANT: I think Bob is right. Again, it is a tip. They receive tips -- hundreds of tips on different methods. This on, again, was from an online Web tip, Wetip.com, and it's something they're going to follow up on. The Provost Marshall's office down there I'm sure will do a good job. Again, they're probably in the process right now of planning exactly how they're going to go about this methodical search. And we'll have to wait and see exactly what happens.

ALLEN: What happens, Mike -- I mean, Bob Franken is talking about the dozens and dozens of tips they've had to sort through in this case. What's the first thing that happens when a tip comes through that sounds interesting that they might want to check out?

BROOKS: It depends on where the tip is. I know in Atlanta they have had sightings, supposedly, of Chandra on the subway system, at a gas station, at a few other places -- at a concert, in fact, in Atlanta. But what they would do is, is the FBI has been -- that's one of the reasons they're involved in the case -- would have the capability of sending leads to a particular field office, let's say the Atlanta field office. And agents from there would go out and check the validity of these leads, see if there was any videotape in an area that would show if -- somewhere where she was supposed to have been. All of these kind of things.

But again, they're following all the leads up and, you know, they're just not discounting any tip.

ALLEN: So does that men they devote a lot of resources -- police do -- to every tip that comes in?

BROOKS: Well, if they think there is validity to the tip and there is some information that they can follow up, they will go ahead and follow it up. They not only do this in the Chandra case, but they do this in other cases where they believe there is some kind of maybe an interstate connection. They will follow up these leads.

ALLEN: What do you know about wetip.com, where this particular came in from?

BROOKS: I don't know too much about it, except I looked at it myself. It looks like a -- it touts itself as being an anonymous tip line for arson and fraud and any other crimes. But I don't know too much at this time about the Web site in particular.

ALLEN: And let's talk about the search now that will take place, Mike, how they go about searching a parking lot with cadaver dogs. How long could this take and -- well, we don't even know when it's going to start, if it starts today.

BROOKS: No, right. We don't know how long it's going to take. They are -- we still have a number of hours of sunlight, so I'm sure they will use that to their advantage. They're probably planning that out right now. Again, they'll go down and I'm sure do a methodical search. The military police and the Army CID, they do a good job. They're used to searching areas. And if something is found, anything that they would find, the Richmond office of the FBI has an evidence response team that I'm sure would probably be utilized, along with the military investigators, if something is found. But again, we don't want to a jump ahead of ourselves, because nothing has been found. Again, it's just a tip.

ALLEN: All right. Mike Brooks, we thank you for talking with us. Let's go back to CNN's Bob Franken in Washington -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I just wanted to ask Mike if he could stay on a moment. I hope you're still on, Mike.

The one thing that sets this apart a tiny bit, according to Chief Gainer, was the fact that, in this particular case, when the tipster said that there was a parking lot under construction, which is where Chandra Levy was buried, the location, et cetera, proved to be accurate -- that there is a parking lot under construction.

Even so, the police are acting, as I said, very methodically about this. They are treating this as just one of the dozens tips they've gotten. They're doing this in a very, very thorough way. As a matter of fact, it could be many hours, even tomorrow morning before they actually get down to the search. There are so many jurisdictions that are involved, so many things to check out. The cadaver dogs, even though they have them on the base there, have to be rounded up, that type of thing. So this is something that is very methodical. There is not a sense of crisis or urgency. This is another tip the police have decided bears checking out.

BROOKS: Exactly, Bob. And I would agree with you on that. Again, it's something that if it is a crime scene, they will go about it in a methodical manner, and there's no reason to rush into that, you know, if in fact, it is a crime scene. Again, we hope it's not.

ALLEN: And, Mike, if this tip is checked out and then nothing comes of it, police have said up until now that they didn't have much -- nowhere else to go, that they were thinking and saying that this case may never be solved, and then we have them moving on a tip like this today. How can police stay geared up if this doesn't turn out to be anything on this case? How many people stay working on, say, a missing person's case like this after so many weeks have gone by?

BROOKS: Well, again, I think right now, there has been speculation of this being a cold case. This is nowhere near being a cold case. And I think you're going to see the investigative resources continue. As long as they're receiving tips, as long as they have leads, they're going to run those leads out until they don't have anymore leads. And you know, down the line -- we're talking weeks, possibly months away, when they finally exhaust all the leads, then you may see it cut back a little bit. But right now, I don't think they're anywhere near cutting back, as long as they have the leads to follow.

ALLEN: With the time that Chandra Levy has been missing now, how long could it take, if they found the body they buried under this parking lot, to identify a body?

BROOKS: I know the weather down in that area probably has been warm. A lot of things -- the environmental factors come into play. There are a number of other forensic issues that come into play in an instant like this. And you know, if they do find something, they are going to go about it in very methodical manner. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sure they will not just go down and rush into things. But it could be -- it could be a couple of days actually.

ALLEN: Is it impossible to put a timetable, Mike, on how long they might need to search this parking lot? We don't know how big of a parking lot it is.

BROOKS: Again, not knowing exactly, you know, the scope of their search area, not knowing how big the parking lot is, it would be really hard for me to speculate.

ALLEN: We certainly thank you, Mike Brooks, our consultant, former, D.C. metropolitan police officer. We'll take a quick break. When we come back, an interview with Chandra Levy's mother.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: And again, the breaking news, Washington police are setting out for Fort Lee, Virginia. They want to check out a tip that came through at wetip.com. That tip said that Chandra Levy's body is buried under a parking lot under construction in Fort Lee, Virginia. That military installation, some 116 miles from Washington, D.C.

We want to point out dozens of tips have come in through hotlines and this Web site, and police have checked out certain -- certain tips and they're going to check out this one, because they have confirmed there is a parking lot under construction at Fort Lee.

Let's go to CNN's Gary Tuchman. He's in Modesto, California, where Chandra Levy's parents live but haven't been at the home this afternoon.

Gary, what's new?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Natalie. And we don't know yet if Chandra Levy's parents and her brother know anything about the tips that have come in. As we speak, someone is pulling in the driveway. We'll have to tell you that. It appears that this is Mrs. Levy, who is pulling in the driveway right now.

We are not going to be the ones to tell her. A close adviser to the family is here. They don't know if she knows yet about the tip. We'll let you take a look right now.

We have been telling everyone who's standing here it's not up to the journalists here to tell us of the tip. This woman you're seeing right here is Kim Petersen. She's an executive director of a missing persons foundation, and she is a confidante of the family.

Now, I can tell you right now, not that we're getting a closer look at her, this is a friend of Mrs. Levy. This is not Mrs. Levy herself. She has been driving a car like this. This is a friend of Mrs. Levy who's just pulled up, who is talking to Kim Petersen, the woman we just told you about. So they're probably discussing right now what to do about the situation, Natalie.

We want to tell you while we're talking about this -- and we want to point this out, it's very important -- that the Levys have gotten many tips before. We have emphasized many times that this could be nothing more than a false tip. So it's something we have to keep our eyes on.

Last night, Susan Levy went to the county fairgrounds here in Stanislaus County. That's the county that Modesto is in. She participated in a booth where children were finger-printed, in case they're ever missing, so their fingerprints are on record.

And during the fair, we talked to Susan Levy. We sat down with her and talked with her about this very sad situation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: The first question I want to ask you: What made you decide to participate in this today?

SUSAN LEVY, CHANDRA LEVY'S MOTHER: Because I think it's an important job, and I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) used to help, and also it would help me, too, as well as helping others. It's reciprocal.

TUCHMAN: I just want to ask you, you have all these small children coming, getting their fingerprints taken by you to help make them safe in case, god forbid, something bad happens to them.

S. LEVY: That's right.

TUCHMAN: Meanwhile, your daughter, something inexplicable has happened to her -- we don't know yet. Is it hard for you to do this knowing what your daughter is going through right now or might... S. LEVY: No, it's not hard, because I feel like I'm helping. It's painful, that I live in pain all the time. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but if I'm helping someone else, it's OK, to prevent (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

TUCHMAN: How do you explain -- how do you explain that pain? Could you have ever imagined such pain before this experience started?

S. LEVY: No. Worse. It's like something cut out of you. It's like your heart is cut out. And your brain sometimes runs in the worst areas and you think of the worst things and you try to kick that parasite out. And you know, you get information from various people, wonderful letters of support, but you also get negative letters of support, and it just rips your soul. It's terribly hard.

TUCHMAN: What kind of negative letters are you talking about?

S. LEVY: Just, you know, things that are not coming from a positive source. I don't want to go into those areas. What I want to reflect is the positive and that's it. So I wouldn't even answer those questions.

TUCHMAN: So are people actually sending you negative letters? They have the nerve to do something like that?

S. LEVY: Most people send wonderful supportive letters and poems and prayers, but you get sometimes some really unusual letters.

Again, I don't want to go into that direction. I rather stay with hope and faith and belief of a positive outcome.

TUCHMAN: You're talking about positive, so let's speak positively. What have people said -- what have people said to you in letters?

S. LEVY: No, I'm talking about your answer...

(CROSSTALK)

S. LEVY: Oh, I have -- I should have brought it down, but I have a wonderful poem that someone sent from Texas. It just brings tears to my eyes. It's in honor of my daughter, in honor of the situation. And I'd be willing to share and read that or a few letters. They are on the long side but they are wonderful. People open their hearts.

TUCHMAN: But it made you feel better getting these letters?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: Susan Levy went out lunch with some of her friends today. Dr. Robert Levy went to work. We are expecting that they will be arriving home shortly, and we still don't know if they know the news about this tip.

Natalie, back to you.

ALLEN: All right, we'll get back to you, Gary, if they arrive back at the house. Again, the tip that police are going to follow through on this afternoon or this evening: A tip came in that Chandra Levy's body may be buried in a parking lot under construction in Fort Lee, Virginia. That's near Richmond, Virginia. It's a militarily installation. And we'll continue to bring you the latest on that.

I'm Natalie Allen in Atlanta. Now "INSIDE POLITICS" is next and they will continue to cover this story. Here's Judy Woodruff.

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