Police Want to Talk to Rep. Condit Again on Missing Woman

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Police investigating the disappearance of intern Chandra Ann Levy of Modesto said Wednesday that they are intensifying their probe into her movements and her personal life, seeking to again question Rep. Gary A. Condit (D-Ceres) and witnesses at a health club where she was last seen.

A spokesman for the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police said that detectives were contacting Condit again to learn more about Levy's lifestyle and her relationship with him. Police Sgt. Joe Gentile cautioned that Condit is still not considered a suspect.

"We want to talk to him about anything that might assist us in this investigation," Gentile said. There had been reports that detectives aimed to interview Condit at his office Wednesday, but late in the day, Gentile said, arrangements had still not been made.

An aide to Condit said the congressman has been talking with police all along and will continue to do so.

Detectives were also seeking to re-interview staff members and witnesses at a health club near the apartment where Levy lived, and Gentile said they were pressing to find new witnesses.

Levy worked out for an hour at the Washington Sports Club gym on Connecticut Avenue, where she had a membership, on the night of April 30. She was seen at the club from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., Gentile said. Several hours later, her mother, Susan Levy, received an e-mail from her daughter that was the young woman's last known contact.

"We want to create a timeline and determine what Miss Levy may have talked about with people, whom she saw in those last hours before she disappeared, anything that gives us a better sense of what she was thinking about at the time," Gentile said.

Without solid leads nearly two months after her disappearance, police still have no suspects and are still unable to call the case a criminal matter. They have said that, without new developments, the search for the 24-year-old government intern could be downgraded to a lower priority. "That could mean fewer detectives working the case," Gentile acknowledged.

The attempt to re-interview Condit is a delicate matter. Frustrated by intense media scrutiny of his relationship with a young woman he has described as only a "good friend," Condit has hired a lawyer, San Francisco attorney Joseph W. Cotchett, to represent him.

Cotchett was in his San Francisco office Wednesday, and Gentile said police were uncertain whether Condit might want him present for more questioning.

"I'm not going to address how the interview will take place," Gentile said. "We'll respect his right of privacy. If he wants to have an attorney there, that's his right."

Condit kept up his seclusion from the media Wednesday, and a spokesman would not comment directly on the attempt by detectives to question him again.

"He's talked throughout with police," Mike Lynch, Condit's chief of staff, said from Condit's Modesto office. "When developments warrant, he will talk to the press. But the entity he is most concerned with talking to is the police department. And he has been talking to them consistently.

"The media wants all this other stuff. Police have said time and again that there is no linkage, direct or indirect, between the congressman and Chandra's disappearance."

Cotchett himself added to the swirl of information in the case by stating in one television interview that Levy placed "four or five" calls to Condit in the days prior to her disappearance. Cotchett also speculated that the calls might have been Levy's attempt to "say goodbye" before her planned return to California and visit at her parents' home.

In recent days, Susan Levy has pressed Condit openly to "share what he does know" about her daughter. Levy has been quoted in some news accounts as saying that she was aware her daughter had a relationship with Condit; but in other accounts, she has insisted she had no knowledge of any relationship before Chandra's disappearance.

On Wednesday, the Levys met in Washington with a newly appointed lawyer, William R. Martin, a veteran Washington defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. During the federal investigation of President Clinton in 1998, Martin represented Monica S. Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis, during her appearances before a federal grand jury called by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.

Martin did not return repeated telephone calls. But in brief comments he made while arriving at his downtown Washington office, Martin said he had assigned a "team of investigators [to] look at everything."

Martin declined to discuss his reaction to the police effort to re-interview Condit. He said that he and the Levys would appear today at a joint news conference.

In Modesto, the Levys' son Adam, 19, said in a telephone interview that if his sister was having an affair with Condit, she did not confide that fact either to him or to his parents.

"My sister is a real private person and she kept quiet about who she was dating," he said.

About a month before she disappeared, Adam Levy said, the family flew to the East Coast and visited Chandra. Adam said his father had captured part of the visit on a video camera, and the family afterward scanned the film repeatedly in search of any clues.

"At one point, my sister said she had a 'friend in government.' I joked with her and asked it he was a 'boyfriend,' but she said, 'No, just a friend.' "

In an earlier interview with The Times, Susan Levy was vague about any knowledge she had of a relationship with Condit, saying only, "I heard stories." She added that "the parents are always the last to know."

Since then, she has said in interviews that she asked Chandra if she was seeing Condit and said that her daughter had replied: "How did you know?"

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Braun reported from Washington and Arax from Fresno.

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