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East Side Story

Some time after his girlfriend had walked away, Levin began flirting with Chambers at the bar. Drifting around the room, she again told friends that she wanted to go home with Chambers, and she commented on his sexual prowess. At one point, she talked to Chambers again and then came back and reported the exchange to LaGatta and another friend. She said she'd told him, "The sex we had was the best I've ever had." The comment apparently irritated Chambers. "You shouldn't have said that," Levin said he'd responded.

At Levin's urging, a friend then asked Chambers to meet Levin outside the bar. "He just tilted his head like, 'She's driving me crazy,' and said, 'I don't think so. I don't want to deal with it,' " the friend says.

Later, however, Levin joined Chambers at the bar in what friends say looked like a serious conversation. LaGatta left after two, and Levin asked her to leave the key under the doormat to the apartment. She would be along in a couple of hours. But as dawn approached, Chambers and Levin continued to talk quietly at the bar while Levin played with the ice cubes in her glass. Friends say she appeared to have sobered up, and later, the toxicologist report is said to have concluded that Levin's blood contained minimal levels of alcohol.

At about 4:30, they got up and Levin waved good-bye to her friends. "I yelled at her, 'Where are you going?' " Betsy says. "But she just smiled at me and gave me an okay nod. Usually, she would come over and give me a big hug and tell me she'd call tomorrow, but this time she didn't. I remember she looked sort of mellow—putting her jacket over her left shoulder, pulling her hair, crossing the street like there was no problem."

She'd been in high spirits as the summer wore down, eager to leave for school in Boston.

Levin and Chambers headed for Central Park. Why they went there is something of a mystery. Students from their crowd often went to the park late at night, but almost always in groups. Levin's friends insist she would never have gone there to make love and that she must have trusted Chambers to have gone at all.

Chambers's supporters insist he didn't lure her there for sex. After all, his mother was working that night, so they could have made love at his home, a short distance away. Rather, the supporters say, they went to the park to talk. As further proof of Chambers's intentions, they claim, he left his jacket at Dorrian's and told a friend that he'd be back soon.

It's possible Chambers took Levin to the park because he thought it would be romantic. One night, earlier in the summer, he'd taken another girl there. What's more, the park had always been special to him. It was near his home and school; it was where he'd gone to play ball with his father; and it was where he first went to get high with his friends in the afternoons. Tulenko says, "Rob loved the park."

Chambers and Levin entered at 86th Street at around 4:50 A.M. and walked to a grassy area across the park drive from the Metropolitan Museum. The only account of what happened next comes from Chambers, who made a videotaped statement to the police later that day. Apparently, Chambers claimed that Levin asked him to visit her at school, but he wasn't interested.

According to people who've seen the tape, Chambers told her that if he saw her again, he'd see her at Dorrian's. She flew into a rage, he said, yelling at him and hitting him and scratching his face. He retreated and sat down in the grass a short distance away.

She then went over to a nearby tree to urinate. When she came back, Chambers continued on the tape, she started being nice to him. He was sitting with his hands behind his back, and she playfully tied her panties loosely around his wrists and pushed him back to the ground. She straddled him, facing away, Chambers said. She undid his shirt and pants, he said, and began to masturbate him. Chambers said he grew tired of her efforts and told her to let go, but she wouldn't. Instead, she squeezed his testicles, hurting him. Freeing his hands, he reached up with his left arm and pulled back on her neck as hard as he could, eventually flipping her over him.

Levin is estimated to have died at about 5:30. At around five, according to newspaper reports and other sources, a jogger, an Upper East Side doctor, saw the couple together and thought they were making love. He passed by again about twenty minutes later, and heard someone cry out in pain. "Are you all right?" he called, and someone responded that everything was okay. Later, he's said to have joked with a second jogger who had also seen the couple.


  • Archive: “Features
  • From the Nov 10, 1986 issue of New York
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