ABC News’ Rhonda Schwartz, Imtiyaz Delawala and Pierre Thomas report:
Police investigating the 2001 “cold case” murder of Washington intern Chandra Levy plan to seek a warrant for the arrest of a convicted felon, currently serving jail time, who has emerged as the primary suspect in the Levy case.
The suspect, Ingmar Guandique, has been in jail since approximately July 2001 for two nonfatal attacks on women in the city’s Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., where Levy’s body was discovered in 2002.
Police hope to serve the warrant before Guandique is paroled.
Officially police are not commenting on the case, but a source inside the department told ABC News that D.C. metro Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier had contacted the Levy family to update them on developments.
"The Metropolitan Police Department has no information available for release in this ongoing investigation. This case generated numerous bits of information, which we continue to follow up on," police said in a statement.
Guandique attacked a woman two weeks after Chandra’s disappearance in the middle of May 2001, and another in July. The women were jogging in Rock Creek Park when he "clotheslined" them and dragged them down a hill. There was a struggle, they escaped and he ultimately was caught and pleaded guilty.
Guandique is now serving a 10-year sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary-Victorville in Adelanto, Calif., and is eligible for parole in 2011. The FBI most likely wants to close the case before his parole date, Brad Garrett tells ABC News.
Guandique was the focus of the last three parts of a 12-part series on Levy’s disappearance in the Washington Post metro section last year. He told the Post then that he had nothing to do with Levy’s disappearance:
"Regarding the case of the girl, Chandra Levy: I don’t know anything about that case. In 2001, the FBI went to see me when I was in the [D.C. jail]. That was when I learned about that girl," Guandique said. "Before that, I had never seen her and I don’t understand the reason why the police started to suspect me. … I have nothing to do with the death of that girl. I am innocent and I am not afraid of the police investigation."
After the Post series, D.C. and FBI cold-case squad detectives reexamined their evidence. The problem had always been a lack of conclusive physical evidence to tie Guandique to the murder.