Monday, September 26, 2005

Washington DC Serial Killer?????

Many have heard of the story of Chandra Levy, who May 1, 2001, disappeared. She was a Washington D.C. Congressional intern and her sordid relationship with Congressman Gary Condit, D-California was a main topic of American news headlines for the months prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Few people, however, know that another one-time Washington D.C. intern, Joyce Chiang, mysteriously disappeared two years before Chandra Levy. Although there was no romantic scandal and no national media coverage, the eerie similarities between the two cases are striking. The two women lived in the same neighborhood and had worked for the same government agency. They also shared numerous physical characteristics. A contentious debate has erupted over whether there is a connection between the murders of Joyce Chiang and Chandra Levy. Here is what I know…

When John Chiang, his brothers Roger and Robert, left for Washington, D.C. they knew that they would be missing their murdered sister Joyce, but never expected that the old nightmare would resurface in such a painful way.

That nightmare began on Jan. 9, 1999, when their sister, Joyce Chiang, an INS attorney in Washington, D.C., disappeared. The Chiangs traveled to the U.S. Capitol in early May and it was there that the family first got word about another woman who disappeared from the D.C. area. Like their sister, she, too, was petite and had dark hair. As the Chiangs sat in their hotel room stunned, they heard her name: Chandra Levy.

“Our hearts just broke,” recounted Roger Chiang. “We knew some of the pain and feelings of anxiety that the Levy’s were feeling, not knowing where your loved one was.”

John Chiang, on his return to California, contacted Levy’s parents.

“I was sick in my stomach for the Levy family,” he said. “They asked that we do whatever we can to bring attention to Chandra’s story, to encourage people to contact the proper officials and to let them know about the people that were helpful to us. We did that.”

Roger Chiang, who lives in Washington, D.C., worked with Levy’s friends to help handle the press and participated in search efforts for the missing woman.

Joyce Chiang was student body president at Smith College and a member of the Board of Trustees of Georgetown Law School. She had begun working for the Immigration and Naturalization Service after law school. Friends and family say she was a beautiful, out-going woman who was excelling in her career.

On Jan. 9, 1999, she disappeared at 9 p.m. after stopping at a Starbucks, nearby the apartment building where Levy lived. A search was launched, and reward money was offered.

Chandra Levy, 24, served as an intern for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Her career was also on the rise. Levy was expected to return to Los Angeles and attend graduation ceremonies at the University of Southern California for her master’s degree.

To Joyce's family and friends the similarities between the Chiang and Levy cases seemed alarming and as the story of Chandra Levy and her affair with Congressman Condit unfolded, stories about Joyce Chiang reappeared in the media and comparisons were, not surprisingly made.

Both were government interns who lived within streets of one another. Both also were attractive, young, brunette women of petite stature who frequented the same Starbucks Coffee house. The police dismiss these connections as merely coincidence. They have even suggested that Joyce may have committed suicide. But many adamantly disagree and believe a frightening question must be, and in fact was asked by John Walsh of TV’s America’s Most Wanted who publicly theorized what many had secretly been wondering; Is a serial killer preying on the young female interns of our nation's capitol?

Joyce Chiang was the only daughter in a tightly knit Taiwanese-American family. While in college she served an internship for Representative Howard Berman, Democrat, of California. She lived with her brother Roger in the Dupont Circle area of Washington D.C. Chandra Levy would later move to the same neighborhood. A favorite hangout for both was a nearby Starbuck's coffee shop. Joyce had friends drop her off at the Starbucks that fateful night, she wanted to get some tea and said she would then walk home. She never made it back to her apartment. Because Joyce was a federal employee, the FBI took the lead in the case, but their initial investigation turned up nothing.

The day after Joyce's disappearance, a couple walking through Anacostia Park found a billfold with Joyce's government credit card. They turned it in to the park police that same day. But the credit card remained in the lost & found for four days until the couple recognized Joyce's picture in news broadcasts and contacted the FBI. Fearing valuable time had been lost, a 57-member search and rescue team scoured the area where the card was found. Other personal items belonging to Joyce soon turned up on the banks of the Anacostia river including her apartment keys, a video rental and grocery store card, her gloves, and the jacket Joyce was last seen wearing. There was a clean rip running down the back of the otherwise nice garmet.

Three months later a canoeist was paddling more than eight miles downstream from where Joyce's billfold and other items were discovered. The recent rains had forced a body to wash up onto the shore. Three months submerged in the water of the Potomac River had taken its toll on the corpse. DNA tests were necessary to identify it as Joyce Chiang. Unfortunately, the massive decomposition made it impossible to find out how Joyce died. As a result, the cause of death was listed as undetermined. Without any evidence of foul play, investigators felt there was nothing more to be done. Despite being unresolved, the case was closed. It seemed no one would ever know what really happened to Joyce Chiang.

Then in May of 2001, Chandra Levy's disappearance drew renewed media interest in Joyce. To many, similarities between the two were chilling. They had both worked for Democratic California Congressman. Joyce worked for Representative Berman, who's office was adjacent to Representative Condit's. The two women lived within a few streets of each other. Just three days after Joyce was last seen at the coffee shop a bizarre statement appeared on a nearby wall. It read: "Good Day J.C. may I never miss the thrill of being near you." Was this a cryptic message from Joyce's killer? Perhaps he targeted her in the neighborhood - and later spotted Chandra Levy in the same area when she arrived in town.

There is o
ne last disturbing revelation. As stated above, there are those who believe that a serial killer is to blame for the deaths, if this is true than it may be that he has taken not two, but three lives. Five months before Joyce disappeared, 28-year-old Christine Mirzayan was raped and murdered while walking home from a barbeque. She shared a number of startling similarities with Joyce and Chandra. All three women lived in the same area, all three had dark hair and they were all about the same height and weight. Also they were all interns at one point in their careers. There are some really strange people out there and one never knows. Just another reason to keep an open mind and to keep walking in this big Weird World of ours. Just be watchful!

I’m Average Joe


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