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Jennifer Levin's Mother Remembers 'Preppy Murder' Case

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Twenty-five years ago, New Yorkers were shocked by the Central Park killing of 18-year-old Jennifer Levin. The "preppy murder" case landed Robert Chambers in prison after a novel defense that said it was an accident.

"She died young and beautiful. She just didn't die easily," she told CBS 2's John Slattery.

Jennifer was about to go to college, with dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Robert Chambers was 19. He  had attended East Side prep schools and spent a semester at Boston University until he got into trouble.

He had just broken up with his girlfriend, and walked with Jennifer Levin from an East Side bar over to Central Park - the last she was seen alive.

Photo Of Jennifer Levin
Photo Of Jennifer Levin (credit: CBS 2)

On the morning of August 25, 1986, a bicyclist found Jennifer Levin's body, bruised and half-naked. She'd been strangled to death.

Chambers later took a defense of "rough sex."

"His story was rough sex and everything else. He tried to make it sound like an accident and he didn't mean it. And yet, when it was finished, he walked away and left her lifeless body in the park and that was it," said Levin.

After 12 days of deliberation, Chambers accepted a plea bargain of manslaughter and 15 years. He served the entire term, due to bad behavior.

In 2004, Chambers was arrested for drugs and pleaded to a lesser charge, serving 100 days.

In 2007, he and a longtime girlfriend were arrested for running a cocaine operation out of her East Side apartment. Chambers pleaded and got 19 years.

"He got more time in jail for selling drugs than he got for murdering my daughter, which is pretty amazing," Levin said.

Author Linda Fairstein, who prosecuted the case, said Chambers' problem has always been alcohol and drugs.

"He wasted two lives. He killed Jennifer... He went to prison for 15 years, and when he got out, he started again."

"He's done so much damage to my family and I'm sure to his family too, that I try not to think about him at all. I just hope that he never gets back on the street," Levin said.

Chambers, now 44, is still serving time.

For a mother who says this time of year is always tough, her daughter is nearby in a picture, frozen in time.

Chambers is currently serving time for the latest drug conviction at a correctional facility outside Buffalo. He could be eligible for a parole hearing in November 2023.

Do you think the plea bargain was the right decision? Sound off in our comments section below…

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