Thomas Sowell

ONE of the clues in the Chandra Levy case that may have been dismissed too quickly was a call to the police on the morning of her disappearance, reporting a woman's scream heard in the building where she lived. This seems to have been disregarded as an unrelated event because it occurred hours before the time when Chandra Levy was supposed to have used her computer in her apartment.

But nobody actually saw her using the computer. All that is known is that the computer was used. If Chandra Levy was abducted hours earlier, whoever had her also had access to her keys. Why would such a person, or an accomplice, come back to that apartment and use a computer? Only to throw off the police.

Obviously, no ordinary street criminal would do that. Only someone with a vested interest in misleading the police would do it. But then, nothing else about the Chandra Levy case suggests that her disappearance was the work of a random street criminal.

Ordinary rapists, muggers and robbers do not go to such trouble to dispose of a body that a massive police dragnet fails to find it. Street criminals get what they want and then leave the scene before they are either caught by cops or recognized by witnesses.

Everything about the way Chandra Levy left her apartment suggests that she was going to meet someone she knew. Ordinarily she was very security conscious and took precautions, such as having her cell phone with her. Yet on this occasion she left everything behind in her apartment and took only her keys with her.

This does not necessarily mean that she knew the person who abducted her or killed her. She could have been lured to where that person was waiting by a message from someone she did know and trust, and who said that he or she would be at that place. Chandra might well have screamed when she was ambushed by somebody else.

All this suggests premeditation. Sometimes people have an argument that escalates out of control and leads to violence or death. But at such an emotional moment, one is not very likely to come up with a scheme for disposing of the body so cleverly that an army of cops cannot find it.

Murders are all too common. But murders in which the body cannot be found are much rarer. There has to be some compelling reason why a killer does not just flee the scene of the crime.

Obviously, if the crime occurred in the killer's home or on his job, then the body must be moved. But, if it happened somewhere else, then the dangers of hanging around or carting a body around would have to be weighed against whatever advantage could be gotten by hiding the body.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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