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Published: Saturday, 11/27/2010

The Levy case

It seems a lifetime ago that the nation was obsessed with the melodrama surrounding the disappearance of a 24-year-old congressional intern named Chandra Levy.

The graduate student from Modesto, Calif., never returned from a jog in Washington's Rock Creek Park in May, 2001. The tale took on the elements of a Law & Order episode when suspicion fell on Democratic Rep. Gary Condit, a married congressman with whom Ms. Levy was allegedly having an affair. For the public, sex, politics, and a possible murder were an irresistible combination.

Although evidence linking Mr. Condit to her disappearance never materialized, voters in his district bounced him from office because of the scandal.

Lost in the lurid details of the 24-hour cable news cycle was the Levy family's pain over the fate of their missing daughter. What had become a source of titillation for much of the nation was a devastating tragedy for the woman's loved ones.

The melodrama appeared destined to continue indefinitely, until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks interrupted the narrative. Her image disappeared from cable news, replaced by the unsmiling visage of Osama bin Laden. When her remains were found a year after she disappeared, it was big news, but it didn't dominate media attention in the post-9/11 world.

Last year, Ingmar Guandique, an illegal alien who was already serving time for robbery and assaulting women in Rock Creek Park, was charged with her murder. Mr. Guandique was found guilty last week. The story merited attention and was reported, but the mania that once swirled around it is gone.

Now, the Levy family can claim a modicum of closure and mourn in privacy.

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