D.C. Cops Red-Faced Over Bone Find

Actress Taylor Momsen arrives to the premiere of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" on Monday, June 22, 2009, in Los Angeles.
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Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey is criticizing his own department after investigators working for Chandra Levy's parents discovered a human leg bone and twisted wire in a Washington park where her remains were found.

Police spent a week searching nearly a quarter of Rock Creek Park, employing cadaver dogs, crime scene technicians and cadets to look for bones and other evidence after a man walking his dog discovered Levy's skull and other bones on May 22.

Dr. Jonathan Arden, Washington's medical examiner, has determined it is probably Levy's left shin bone, people familiar with the investigation said. But the bone yielded no clues about how Levy died, they said, speaking on condition they not be named.

Arden identified the remains as Levy's using her dental records. He later ruled her death a homicide, but was unable to say how the former intern died.

"It is unacceptable that these items were not located," said Ramsey, already stung by criticism that police did not find Levy's body when they searched the park a year ago.

Two investigators found the items Thursday in their examination of the steep hillside where much of Levy's remains and clothing were found last month. The bone was about 25 yards from Levy's remains and showed evidence that an animal could have moved it, said Cmdr. Christopher LoJacono of the Washington police forensics science division.

Billy Martin, lawyer for the Levy family, said in a statement on their behalf that it is "very disturbing" that police didn't find the bone and the wire during the search.

"While we are extremely proud of the job done by our investigators," said Martin, "we are overwhelmingly disappointed by the failure of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department to find this very important piece of evidence."

"Our disappointment," added Martin, "should not be misconstrued as blame. We are focused solely on bringing the individual(s) responsible for Chandra Levy's death to justice."

Police are trying to determine if the wire was used to harm Levy, said LoJacono. He also said that the wire appears to be the same kind used by the National Park Service to secure trees in the sprawling park.

Police plan to search the site again to see if they could find other overlooked evidence.

Pressed to explain how such a large bone could have been missed, LoJacono told reporters at a news conference Thursday night that the bone "was found in the area where we searched the first time."

"It would be hard to theorize on how this (was missed)," said LoJacono. "A possibility is that an animal could have taken this bone and could have secreted it in a den, or something along those lines, and then brought it back out. The one thing that we do know is that there was substantial animal activity on the bone."

Levy disappeared on May 1, 2001, shortly after she finished an internship with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and before she was to return to California to receive a graduate degree from the University of Southern California.

Her case commanded national attention because of her relationship with Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif. Police sources said Condit admitted to an affair with Levy. He said he had nothing to do with her disappearance and police have said he is not a suspect.