Sunday, February 14, 2010

Preppie killer

Valentine's Day
Friday, February 14, 2003

The man who became notorious in the 1980s as the "preppie killer" when he strangled a young woman during a sexual encounter in New York's Central Park was released from prison Friday.

Robert Chambers -- dubbed the "preppie killer" by the New York media covering his trial for killing Jennifer Levin on August 26, 1986 -- left Auburn Correctional Facility at 7:15 a.m. after serving his full 15-year sentence for manslaughter.

Speculation now focuses on where Chambers will live and what he will do. The New York Post reported that following his release, Chambers plans to live outside New York City and counsel prison inmates.

Regardless of where he lives, Chambers' release from prison stirs up memories of the crime for Levin's family.

Jennifer Levin's death, splashed across New York City's tabloids in the summer of 1986, offered a glimpse into the lives of callow youths on Manhattan's Upper East Side bar scene.

The suspect, a college dropout, was Hollywood handsome. The victim was pretty, a private school student from a well-to-do family. And the defense -- consensual "rough sex" gone awry -- was startling.

Nothing that Chambers has done since going to jail in April 1988 has changed the negative perceptions of the 6-foot-4, dark-featured killer.

Chambers, now 36, accumulated violations behind bars, including heroin possession, assaulting a guard and weapon possession.

His bids for parole were rejected five times, and he spent about a third of his time in solitary confinement.

Chambers admitted strangling Levin after they met in a bar on the Upper East Side.

Her battered, partially naked body was found by a bicyclist under a tree behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art , where the pair went after leaving the bar.

At a 1995 parole hearing, Chambers expressed no remorse about the crime.

Chambers was about a month short of his 20th birthday when he was charged with murdering Levin.

Jurors were in their ninth day of deliberations when Chambers opted to take a deal, pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter in return for a 15-year jail term.

Levin's family never believed Chambers was sorry.

Shortly after his sentencing, a videotape surfaced showing Chambers snapping the head off a small doll. "Oops, I think I killed it," Chambers cracked, the doll's head in his hand.

After Chambers' incarceration, Levin's mother Ellen worked tirelessly to ensure he would serve the maximum sentence. She collected tens of thousands of signatures on petitions opposing his release, and was a constant presence at parole hearings.

His mother, Phyllis Chambers, had worked equally hard at getting her son out early.

(As reported by CNN)

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