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Ingmar Guandique

Other DC Cases
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On May 6, 2001, 24-year-old Chandra Levy, an intern for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C., was reported missing by her parents, who lived in California and said they had not been able to contact her for several days.

Police searched her apartment and found her cell phone, wallet and credit cards, which suggested she had intended to return. A month later, analysts reviewing her laptop computer discovered that the last activity, shortly after noon on May 1, was a search for information on the Pierce-Klingle Mansion, which is an administrative office building in Rock Creek Park, an urban park in the northwest of the District of Columbia. A search along paths in the park failed to find any evidence related to Levy.

The investigation focused almost immediately on U.S. Rep. Gary Condit, a married seven-term Democratic representative from California who was having an affair with Levy. Condit denied any knowledge of Levy’s disappearance and he was never charged, but the disclosure of his relationship with Levy ended his political career.

In September 2001, a jail inmate reported that 20-year-old Ingmar Guandique had admitted killing Levy. Guandique, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, had pled guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting women walking or jogging on paths in Rock Creek Park. However, after Guandique took and passed an FBI-administered polygraph examination on the Chandra Levy disappearance, he was dismissed as a suspect.

In May 2002, Levy’s remains were found covered by brush and leaves in Rock Creek Park. No cause of death could be determined.

The case was still unsolved in the summer of 2008 when the Washington Post newspaper published a series of articles re-examining the case. The articles were particularly critical of law enforcement for the scant attention to Guandique and his attacks on other women in Rock Creek Park.

In September 2008, investigators searched Guandique’s cell and found a photograph of Levy from a magazine article about the case. Fueled by this discovery, detectives began interviewing inmates who had come into contact with Guandique over the years.

In March 2009, Guandique was arrested for Levy’s abduction and murder after Armando Morales, a fellow inmate of Guandique’s, reported that Guandique had confessed to the crime.

Guandique went to trial in District of Columbia Superior Court in October 2010 on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and attempted robbery. No forensic or physical evidence linked him to the crime.

Morales testified that while he and Guandique were both in a federal prison in Kentucky, Guandique described the following sequence of events: Guandique saw Levy running in Rock Creek Park with a fanny pack and decided to rob her, but did not intend to kill her. Levy tried to fight him off and he dragged her into the bushes. By the time he got her into the brush, Levy was unconscious. Guandique then took Levy’s waist pouch and fled. The prosecution claimed that the fact that Levy had a fanny pack that was missing had never been disclosed during the investigation, and that Guandique’s knowledge of this detail supported the accuracy of Morales’ account.

Morales denied that he received any benefits from the prosecution for his testimony or that he had cooperated with prosecutors in any other cases.

On November 22, 2010, Guandique was convicted of all charges. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

After conviction, Guandique’s attorneys contended that Morales’ testimony was false and that Guandique was innocent. At hearing in 2015, they presented evidence that Morales had lied when he claimed that he had not cooperated with prosecutors in other cases, and that the prosecutors in Guandique’s case had concealed that information from the his trial lawyers. In June 2015, Guandique was granted a new trial.

Evidence also showed that over the years before Morales’ statement, no one said that Levy was wearing a fanny pack at the time she disappeared. After Morales said that Guandique told him that he took her fanny pack, detectives went back and re-interviewed acquaintances and other witnesses and at least one person then recalled seeing Levy with such a waist pouch.

The Washington Post reported that on July 6, 2016, Babs Proller, a Maryland resident, met Morales in the hotel where they both were living. Over the course of several days, they became friendly and Morales began telling his life story—including that he was a former gang member and convicted felon and had been recently released from prison.

After Morales threatened Proller’s ex-husband, she began to record their conversations. Morales told her that he had been a witness in the Levy murder trial, and eventually admitted that he had lied in court and made up the story that Guandique had confessed to him.

Proller provided the recordings of her conversations with Morales to the authorities. On July 28, 2016, the prosecution dismissed the charges against Guandique. He had completed his sentence for the assaults to which he pled guilty and was turned over to immigration authorities for deportation. He was deported in May 2017.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 8/2/2016
Last Updated: 5/9/2017
State:District of Columbia
County:
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Kidnapping, Attempt, Violent
Reported Crime Date:2001
Convicted:2010
Exonerated:2016
Sentence:60 years
Race:Hispanic
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:19
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No