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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chandra Levy's Body Discovered in Woods

WASHINGTON -- The body of U.S. federal intern Chandra Levy, who had a close relationship with U.S. politician Gary Condit before she mysteriously disappeared more than a year ago, was found Wednesday in a park where she was known to jog.

Police said the skeletal remains, clothing and other personal items were found scattered in a heavily wooded area of Rock Creek Park by a man looking for turtles as he walked his dog. They were identified through dental records.

"The manner, cause of death is still pending," Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey told reporters, noting he was unsure whether she died at the site where the remains were found.

Representatives of Levy's parents said they believe she was murdered and urged police to continue their investigation.

"We are awaiting the results of the medical examiner and any autopsy that may be performed, and we believe that this investigation, this death investigation, will turn into a homicide," attorney Billy Martin said.

Thousands of people disappear in the United States every year, but Levy's case drew national attention for her relationship with Condit, a California Democrat who has not divulged publicly how close their relationship had been.

Condit, whom police have said is not a suspect in Levy's disappearance, lost a Democratic primary earlier this year, in part because of the perception he had not told everything he knew and might have hindered the investigation.

Shortly after Levy's remains were identified, Condit issued the following statement: "Congressman Gary Condit and his family want to express their heartfelt sorrow and condolences to the Levy family. The Levy family will remain in our prayers."

Police, who were criticized last year for failing to pursue the case vigorously enough, searched more than 685 hectares of the park after Levy disappeared May 1, 2001.

Ramsey said the body was found because the man who discovered it had been walking in a more remote area. He found the skull in some underbrush.

"The remains were exposed to the elements for some time, so obviously there's some disruptions that take place," he said.

"There's a lot of work that is yet to be done. The medical examiner's determination as to the manner and cause of death is still pending," he added, noting that the police department's violent crimes division would take over the probe.

The discovery of the remains dominated U.S. cable news coverage for the first time since the summer days of 2001, when TV camera crews followed Condit's every step around Washington and speculation grew to fever pitch about Levy's fate. Interest in the case evaporated after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington that killed more than 3,000 people.