Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Killing in Central Park: The Preppy Murder Case


Victim Jennifer Levin (earrings covered by police request)
Victim Jennifer Levin
(earrings covered by police request)
Jennifer Levin was outgoing, pretty and had lots of friends. She was raised on Long Island and during the early 1970s, her parents, Ellen and Steven divorced. Jennifer and her mom soon moved to California but returned to New York in 1979. Later, Jennifer graduated from Baldwin School, a private school on E. 74th Street in Manhattan. During the summer of 1986, she worked as a waitress in football player Doug Flutie's Pier 17 restaurant on South Street. Although the work was tough, she managed to save some money for college in the fall. She planned to attend Chamberlayne College in Boston that September.

She eventually moved in with her father, a successful real estate broker, in a spacious loft in Soho, the region South of Houston Street in lower Manhattan. Because her parents were divorced, Jennifer may have craved love and attention, which is common among children from broken homes. She tended to fall in love easily and had sexual relationships with others before Chambers. She was extroverted, loved to have fun and go out with friends. She visited all the trendy spots in Manhattan, like Studio 54 and Hard Rock Café.

Though she was only 17, Jennifer looked older than her age. She had short brown hair, a freckled complexion and a wide engaging smile. She wore sexy clothes like ripped jeans and tight mini-skirts. But she always dressed well as a friend once said: "Nobody knows as much about style as Jennifer." People liked having Jennifer around and she frequently attended parties at the clubs in Manhattan and sometimes at the Hamptons, which she visited frequently during the summer months.

But her love life faltered. She went through several boyfriends who somehow always disappointed her. She felt rejected and used. "Boys are so strange," she told a friend, "When you haven't had sex yet, all they want is to get you to do it. But if you've had it, they're scared of you."

Throughout 1986, she and her friends hung around Dorrian's where they would meet up sometimes after they went out. They were well known there by all the bartenders, including John Zaccaro Jr., son of Rep. Geraldine Ferraro who would make history one day as the first woman to run for Vice-President. One night, before the summer began that year, she saw a tall good-looking guy standing at the bar. When she asked around, she learned he was Robert Chambers. She liked the way he looked, his body language, the way he combed his hair. So when he took notice of her, Jennifer was elated. "Maybe this time," she may have thought, "maybe this time I'll luck out."


We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'