When intern Chandra Levy went missing in May of 2001, investigations focused on then-California Congressman Gary Condit. Initially denying an affair that many insisted existed, including Ms. Levy’s own family, public perception had irrevocably been altered of the Congressman, despite never being named a suspect. In 2002, Condit lost his bid for re-election.
Chandra Levy’s remains were discovered in Washington’s Rock Creek Park a year after her disappearance, but yielded no solid clues. The investigation lay dormant for years until an inmate serving time came forward to name another inmate claiming to have murdered Levy.
Though no DNA ties him to the case, Ingmar Guandique, an illegal Salvadoran immigrant, was sentenced Friday to 60 years in prison for the death of Chandra Levy. Present at the hearing was Ms. Levy’s mother, Sandra Levy, who delivered an emotional statement to the court, and directed much of it directly to Mr. Guandique.
Despite sentencing, most of those involved in the Chandra Levy disappearance have yet to reach closure. As quoted by The New York Times after the verdict, Sandra Levy stated; “The result of this verdict may be guilty, but I have a life sentence of a lost limb missing from our family tree.”
The fallout from political scandal is both far-reaching and long-lasting. Murder in particular has been closely associated with politics, with the recent suicide/murder of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, better known as the D.C. Madam in 2008.
The D.C. Madam
When Deborah Jeane Palfrey was found hanging in a shed at her mother’s Florida home, it was deemed suicide. But was it? Many think it was a preemptive murder, designed to ensure Palfrey did not release her client list by name – a move which many believe would have spelled doom for many politicians, including, perhaps, those at the highest levels of government.
Two of the most well-known political mysteries involve the Kennedys. Though decades old, they are still well-known and much debated.
JFK and Marilyn Monroe’s Death
When Marilyn Monroe sang a sultry “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy in May of 1962, tongues began to wag, and the White House watchers speculated something was up. When Marilyn turned up dead of “suicide” a few months later in August 1962, speculation intensified about the White House connection to what many believe was murder – designed to shield President Kennedy and his many dealings of which Marilyn Monroe supposedly had knowledge.
Scandal clouded around the Kennedys once again when the body of May Jo Kopechne was pulled from a submerged car resting at the bottom of a tidal channel on Chappaquiddick Island. Ted Kennedy, the admitted driver of the car, stated he accidentally drove the car off the bridge after taking a wrong turn – but waited a full 10 hours to report the accident. Pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident only intensified the public’s perception of the incident, causing Kennedy to scrap plans to campaign for president in later years.
With these three political scandals, the public’s perception had already decided guilt based on available information as the stories came to light. Likewise, the public did the same with Gary Condit in 2001. We now know that Condit had no part in Chandra’s disappearance or murder – but the damage has been done, with Mr. Condit’s political career destroyed.
But what of those said to be connected in the Kennedy incidents? What of those alleged to be clients of the D.C. Madam? Have we also wrongly judged them? While the Kennedys escaped true political ruin, they did reap many difficulties and forever faced rumors and accusations, and still do so today, long after their own deaths. The D.C. Madam is a story that seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop; her client list and many of her personal papers are unaccounted for.
For those touched by scandal, perseverance to see truth brought forth is the only option. Unless, of course, the truth would be even damaging. In Chandra Levy’s case, the truth has cleared those initially suspected, but has left little but time to heal for those touched by it.
Reuters, Convicted Murderer Gets 60 Year Sentence in Chandra Levy Case
NYTimes, Guilty Verdict in Chandra Levy Case
Daily Mail, Madness of Marilyn: The Affair With JFK and the Drug Crazed Paranoia That Put Her in a Padded Cell
Wikipedia, Marilyn Monroe
Wikipedia, Chappaquiddick Incident
Fox News, Death of ‘D.C. Madam’ Becomes Rich Ground for Conspiracy Theory