Thousands gather to mourn Chandra

Family and friends of Washington intern Chandra Levy were today mourning her loss and celebrating her life at a memorial service in California.

Family and friends of Washington intern Chandra Levy were today mourning her loss and celebrating her life at a memorial service in California.

Thousands of mourners were due to gather for the special ceremony in 24-year-old Ms Levy’s home town of Modesto.

Following the service, Ms Levy’s parents Dr Robert and Susan Levy, were expected to make their first public comments since she was found dead.

Ms Levy’s remains, discovered in a Washington DC park last week, will not be brought to California for the ceremony.

They will stay in Washington as investigators continue the probe into how Ms Levy, who mysteriously went missing from her home in Washington just over a year ago, died.

The case hit the headlines because of her romantic links with Democratic congressman Gary Condit and eventually led to his political demise.

Mr Condit has not spoken publicly since Ms Levy’s body was found but his lawyer Mark Geragos has said the discovery of her remains is likely to eliminate him as a potential suspect in her disappearance and death.

He told CNN: ‘‘I think, just by the discovery and where the remains were found tends to, I think exonerate Gary.’’

And Mr Geragos dismissed suggestions of married Mr Condit’s involvement in Ms Levy’s case as ‘‘wild theories and speculation.’’

Police have named no one as a suspect in the death of Ms Levy although investigators are exploring whether the case can be linked to two assaults on women in the park last summer.

Ingmar Guandique, a 22-year-old labourer from El Salvador, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for the assaults, one of which occurred shortly after Ms Levy disappeared.

Detectives also expect to question Mr Condit as they talk to various people who may have information about her disappearance.

Mr Condit has consistently denied having anything to do with Ms Levy’s disappearance but he reportedly acknowledged to investigators that he had an affair with her.

Publicity surrounding the case cost him dearly and he lost the Democratic primary in his district earlier this year. He is now in his final months as a congressman.

Ms Levy was last seen on April 30 last year when she cancelled her membership at a health club near her flat.

She had been preparing to return to California for graduation from the University of Southern California and sent her parents an e-mail on May 1 noting air fares for the trip home.

The Levys called the police five days later when they could not reach her.

After her disappearance, police searched Mr Condit’s apartment with his consent and obtained a DNA sample from him.

Mr Condit submitted to a lie detector test arranged by his lawyer, who said the congressman was found to be truthful when denying any knowledge about what happened to Ms Levy.

A grand jury has been reviewing Ms Levy’s disappearance and whether Mr Condit or his aides obstructed the investigation. The grand jury subpoenaed documents from Mr Condit last year.

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