It was 20 years ago this month.
"There's a young woman, an intern who's missing from her apartment in Northwest D.C., and she was having an affair with a congressman."
That's what News4's Jackie Bensen heard from a police source in May 2001 before heading into the newsroom.
"I [was] not going to be able to report that she was having an affair with the congressman. Pat Collins is the one who broke that aspect of the story," Bensen recalls today. "But we will get on the record and report that this young woman, Chandra Levy, is missing. And we did."
Levy, a graduate student at the University of Southern California, had just finished an internship with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and was supposed to return home to Modesto, California, on May 1, 2001, in time for her upcoming graduation.
But she never returned.
Concerned they hadn't been able to reach her by May 6, her parents called D.C. police.
Officers entered Levy's apartment and found all her identification, driver’s license, credit cards, checkbook, jewelry and cell phone still there.
"There was this drumbeat, 'Where is Chandra? What happened to Chandra?'" News4's Pat Collins remembers. "That [was] fueled by actions by her mother, Susan Levy, who came to town holding a yellow duck — it was one of Chandra's favorite stuffed toys as a little girl — and she came with a plea, a very poignant plea: 'I want my daughter back.'"
Collins says Levy had told her family she had a "secret friend" in Washington, D.C., and the friend was Congressman Gary Condit from California.
"Condit was silent for a long time about this; he didn't want to admit that he had anything more than a casual friendship with Chandra Levy," Collins says.
In doing so, Condit looked like someone who was hiding something, and so the investigation started to zero in on him, Collins says. The congressman hired high-profile lawyer Abbe Lowell and took a private lie detector test.
"And they came out with the results saying, 'Hey, you know, he's clean,'" Collins says.
Condit was never charged and was never called a suspect. He has said police misconstrued his relationship with Levy and that he barely knew her outside of work, TODAY previously reported.
The story of Levy's disappearance drove all the news operations throughout the summer of 2001 — until Sept. 11. All of a sudden, the Chandra Levy story went dark.
Levy's remains would be found a year later.
In 2010, a man already serving time for sexual assault was charged and convicted in Levy's death. In 2016, a new trial was ordered for that man, Ingmar Guandique, and prosecutors dropped the charges.
The disappearance and death of Chandra Levy have comprised one of D.C.'s more enduring mysteries. We'll have more on the case as part of our new continuing series, NBC Washington Rewind.