A man walking his dog and searching for turtles in a Washington park today found the corpse of missing government intern Chandra Levy after his pet uncovered the young woman's skull, police said.
Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey told a news conference this evening that the medical examiner used dental records to determine the remains are those of the 24-year-old woman, who disappeared more than a year ago.
Medical examiners have yet to determine the cause or time of death.
"We have received word from the medical examiner that the remains discovered this morning are in fact Chandra Levy," Ramsey said. "This was based on dental records. The cause of death of death is pending. … We'd like to extend our condolences to the family."
Ramsey said police are treating the case as a death investigation, not a homicide yet.
This morning, the man walking his dog while looking for turtles found the skull after his dog started digging in some leaves in the expansive, heavily wooded park in the Northwest section of the nation's capital, Ramsey said.
The young woman's body had apparently been in the park for a long time, and the bones were not all in one location, Ramsey said. Forensics experts say skeletal remains could yield clues into the how Levy was killed.
"If you find knife marks on the bones, cut marks, those would be indicative of the fact that the person was defending themselves and the manner in which they were killed," said James Starrs of George Washington University Law School.
Ramsey said that remnants of materials consistent with women's clothing were found near the bones, but he declined to elaborate. Sources told ABCNEWS that jogging gear and a portable cassette player were among the items found.
Investigators, Ramsey said, did not know yet whether the area where the remains were found was where Levy died or whether the body had been moved. Investigators, he said, would continue to probe the area.
The remains were found in dense foliage in an area away from commonly used paths, police said. Levy lived in an apartment near Rock Creek Park, and police searched the park shortly after her disappearance last May.
Police searched the park three times last July, covering more than 1,700 acres, Ramsey said. That left more than 1,000 acres unsearched, apparently including the area where the corpse was found today.
They had initially searched area parks and river banks with cadaver dogs last May but found nothing.
Levys Enduring ‘Nightmare’
Ramsey said Susan and Robert Levy, the young woman's parents, learned of the identification of the remains while watching the news, despite his efforts to make sure they were informed first.
The Levys, who conducted an interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier today before being told about the discovery, said through their attorneys that today's discovery was the realization of their worst nightmare as parents, and they will not rest until Chandra's killer or killers are found. One of their attorneys, Billy Martin, said from Florida that today's discovery does not "solve the mystery" of what happened to the intern.
"On behalf of the Levy family, police and our investigators will continue our investigation until we find the person or persons who did this to Chandra," Martin said. "As a parent, you an appreciate that this is the worst nightmare any parent can endure."
Outside the Levys' home in California, Judy Smith, the family's spokeswoman, that the family was deeply saddened but was determined find some answers in Chandra's death.
"While the death of their daughter provides some resolution, it does not provide answers as to what happened to Chandra and we will continue to pursue that matter," she said.
The Levys also thanked all law enforcement and supporters who continued to give words of encouragement throughout their ordeal.
The case generated national headlines after reports surfaced that Levy had been linked to Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif. More than 200 members of the media arrived in Rock Creek Park today within hours of the announcement that a body had been found there.
Levy had left her position as Bureau of Prisons intern last April, and was last seen on April 30, 2001, at her gym. Her parents received an e-mail from her on May 1. Police analysis of her computer showed she had looked up directions to the Klingle Mansion, a historic home in Rock Creek Park.
The remains discovered today were found about a mile north of Klingle Mansion.
No Comment From Condit
Sources have said Condit, 54, admitted to police that he had an affair with the young woman — who hailed from Modesto, Calif., part of his district — right up until she disappeared.
Condit was in Washington today and released a brief statement tonight through his lawyer Mark Geragos.
"Congressman Gary Condit and his family want to express their heartfelt sorrow and condolences to the Levy family," the statement said. "The Levy family will remain in our prayers."
Police have stressed Condit was not considered a suspect, but the scandal hurt the once-popular lawmaker's standing with his constituents. The six-term congressman, who is married, lost his re-election bid to a former aide in a Democratic primary in March. ABCNEWS' Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.