A jailed laborer from El Salvador has been charged with first-degree murder in what had been one of the nation’s great unsolved mystery cases: the 2001 slaying of Washington intern Chandra Levy.
Ingmar Guandique, who was already serving a 10-year sentence for attacking two women in Washington D.C.’s Rock Creek Park – where Levy’s remains were found in 2002 – first came under suspicion that year, but police were hindered by a lack of physical evidence due to the severe weathering of Levy’s skeletal remains.
At the time, Guandique and his lawyer said that he had nothing to do with Levy’s death. He will now be brought to D.C. to face trial, reports The Washington Post.
Guandique, 27, has been incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution-Victorville, a medium-security facility, north of San Bernardino, Calif. The arrest was made Tuesday, authorities told CNN.
The news network had reported last month that an arrest in the case was imminent and that new advances in DNA testing were key to apprehension of a suspect.
The publicity surrounding the Levy case was largely a result of her connection to then-Rep. Gary Condit, D-California.
In an early interview with police, Condit, who was 53 in 2001, reportedly admitted having an affair with the 24-year-old Levy. (The married Condit never acknowledged the romance publicly.) From that point on, the police and the media focused on his involvement.
“All of a sudden, Gary Condit became the only one they would consider,” a source close to the investigation told PEOPLE at the time. “We became fixated on him.”
After being voted out of Congress in 2003 (after 10 years in office), Condit went into the ice cream business, operating several Baskin-Robbins ice-cream parlors with his wife, Carolyn, son Chad and daughter Cadee – and dividing his time between homes in California and Arizona.
Gary Condit Today
Gary’s mother, Jean Condit, tells PEOPLE of this current break in the case, “Gary is so glad that something has finally been resolved. It’s been so hard on him and on his family. It’s gone on far too long.”
In his only statement since it was announced last month that an arrest would be forthcoming, Condit told D.C. TV station WJLA, “It is unfortunate that an insatiable appetite for sensationalism blocked so many from searching for the real answers for so long. I had always hoped to have the opportunity to tell my side of the story, but too many were not prepared to listen.”
He added, “Now I plan to do so, but I will have no further comments on this story at this time.”
• Reporting by CHAMP CLARK