Gov’t expands Levy investigation


WASHINGTON, AP

Federal officials have expanded their investigation into Chandra Levy’s disappearance to determine whether Rep. Gary Condit obstructed justice.

The search for the 24-year old former federal intern, who disappeared 11 weeks ago, was moving forward on several fronts. Police were re-interviewing people at Levy’s apartment building and continued a search of abandoned buildings in Washington. Police also were awaiting FBI laboratory tests to see if items removed from Condit’s apartment contained blood.

Items sent to the lab after a light and chemical test used to detect possible blood included a portion of a miniblind and swabs of residue taken from spots on the floor and wall of the California Democrat’s residence, law enforcement officials said.

They cautioned that the light test can react to various organic materials, and only lab tests can confirm whether the suspect material constituted blood or another substance.

Terrance Gainer, Washington’s No. 2 police official, said Thursday that authorities were expecting no major advances in their investigation as a result of the almost four-hour search Wednesday morning that was done with Condit’s consent and in his presence.

Police have said repeatedly they do not consider Condit a suspect in Levy’s disappearance. A police source has said the congressman acknowledged a romantic relationship with the former Bureau of Prisons intern.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI were looking at a flight attendant’s allegation that Condit urged her to sign a statement denying a 10 month affair she says they had. Anne Marie Smith also said Condit told her she did not have to cooperate with FBI agents who questioned her.

Smith ended two days of interviews with federal prosecutors and FBI agents Thursday. They were trying to determine whether to go further, said one official familiar with the matter.

Condit, 53 and married, has denied asking anyone to lie or not cooperate with investigators trying to determine what happened to Levy, last seen April 30. He has not commented on any relationship with Smith.

A source close to Condit’s legal team, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that an official contacted former Condit intern Jennifer Baker, a friend of Levy, about a photograph of Condit and the two women that made its way onto television newscasts. Some stations showed Condit and Levy together, with Baker’s image cropped out.

Baker’s attorney, Don Heller, confirmed that Baker talked to a Condit aide about the photo but said, “She was not asked to do anything improper, not asked to lie at all. ” He said investigators are working on four theories in Levy’s disappearance: that she was a killed, committed suicide, walked away voluntarily or is wandering around without knowing who she is.