The case of

Jennifer Levin

jennifer_levin
Victim

Jennifer Levin

Victim Race

Caucasian

Victim Date of Birth

1968-05-21

Victim Age

18

Date Reported

1986-08-26

Date of Death

1986-08-26

Case Status

Closed

Incident Location

Manhattan, New York

Body Location

Manhattan, New York

Date of Conviction

October, 2015

Body Discovered Date

1986-08-26

Murderer

Robert Emmet Chambers Jr.

Jennifer Levin, an Affluent Young Woman from NY

Jennifer Levin was born on May 21, 1968 in Nassau County, New York, United States. She was the younger of two sisters.

Jennifer Levin’s early years were spent with her older sister and parents in a house on Long Island. Jennifer’s parents divorced in 1970.

Her remarried father was a successful businessman in the real estate industry. Despite Jennifer Levin’s parents’ divorce, she and her sister grew up very close to them.

Jennifer Levin attended one of the most prestigious private schools and was a very independent and popular child. During her studies, she went to live with her father and stepmother in a luxury loft in Soho; however, despite coming from a wealthy family, her friends and family describe her as a very mature and down-to-earth girl.

During an interview for the New York Times, her mother, Ellen Levin, described her as a responsible, loving, kind and loyal girl. Jennifer made everyone smile; she always had such a good attitude.

Jennifer Levin was just days away from starting her freshman year at Chamberlayne Junior College in Boston, where she planned to major in Marketing. During the summer of 1986, Jennifer and her friends decided to make the most of the time they would have together before they each went their separate ways to college.

At the time, it was popular to have fake IDs to get into bars and certain places. Jennifer and her friends had these IDs to get into a bar they often went to, located on 84th Street on the East Side of New York City.

This bar was visited by many young people from high society, so the control of access to minors was not very strict. Although the minimum age to enter these bars was 21, 18-year-old Jennifer Levin and her other friends spent a lot of time there.

On August 26, 1986, a man on a bicycle was riding through Central Park. At approximately 6 a.m. that morning, he approached an area between 5th Avenue and Northeast 183rd Street and found the lifeless body of a woman.

The body was identified as that of Jennifer Levin.

The Lifeless Body of A Girl

On August 25, 1986, Jennifer Levin went with her friends to a bar called Dorrian’s, which they often went to.

During the night, Jennifer Levin shared with several friends, all from high social classes, considered privileged young people in New York City. One of the people who joined the party that day was Robert Chambers Jr., who, according to his statements, arrived at approximately 11 p.m. at the bar.

According to Robert Chambers himself, it was Jennifer who approached him for a conversation. After talking for a while, Chambers and Levin decided to take a walk in Central Park.

Later, on August 26, 1986, a man riding his bicycle found the body of a woman near Northeast 183rd Street. He immediately rode to a phone booth and called the police to report it.

The man waited near the body while the police arrived. Once they arrived at the crime scene, they noticed that the woman had tan marks that had been stripped of her rings and bracelets.

According to some police statements, there was no attempt to hide the body, it was in plain sight in Central Park. Her skirt and blouse were up, her denim jacket was found 50 meters from the scene. Everything seemed to indicate that it was a case of sexual abuse.

Although New York at that time was very busy in terms of criminal acts and drug crimes, the area where the body was found belonged to American people with high social status, so it immediately caught the attention of Fox News, New York Times, among other media.

Police were able to identify the 18-year-old girl as Jennifer Levin.

Investigation

Approximately three hours after the body was found, the police went to the home of Stephen Levin, Jennifer’s father, to give him the unfortunate news.

By that time, the press had already learned of what had happened and came to Jennifer’s father’s house. The media circus around the case began immediately once the media began to spread the news.

Ellen arrived at her ex-husband’s house, which was surrounded by reporters. Once she entered, she received the news of her daughter’s murder.

Jennifer’s body was taken to the morgue, and the medical examiner found that she had bite marks, bruises, and contusions. She had some loose teeth, several bruises on her face and neck, and her left eye was bulging out of its socket.

Jennifer Levin had broken fingernails and several signs of struggling to defend herself.

Detectives interviewed her closest friends, who told of their evening at the bar where they had been the night before.

During the interrogations, the name Robert Chambers came up. This was a young man who was also the type of friend Jennifer Levin was used to hanging out with, who also surrounded himself with the same social circle and club scene.

The police went to Robert Chambers’ house in order to obtain more information that could help them reconstruct the last hours of Jennifer’s life. When they knocked on the door, Phyllis Chambers, Robert’s mother, told them that he was sleeping at the time.

A few minutes later, however, Robert came to the door, and immediately went from being someone who could assist the investigation to the prime suspect.

Robert Chambers had numerous scratches on his face and a significant injury to his hand. Robert immediately told them that the scratches had been inflicted by the family cat.

Robert was quite calm and voluntarily agreed to go to the police station to assist with the investigation.

Once they arrived at the station, Robert agreed to have his interrogation recorded. He told the police that he knew Jennifer and that they had gone their separate ways that night.

He then told a different version than the one he had previously given.

The Killer’s Confession

After he told the police that he and Jennifer had said goodbye to each other that night at the bar, he changed his story.

Robert told the police that on the night of August 25, 1986, he arrived at the bar quite late, at approximately 11:30 p.m. He told the police that it was Jennifer who approached him, and they began to talk.

Apparently, according to his statements, the two had already met several times before that night, and Jennifer seemed to be interested in him. Robert told the police that Jennifer wanted something more that night at the bar; however, he told her that he was not interested.

Afterward, Jennifer invited him to chat outside the bar, and he accepted. As they walked down the street, Jennifer proposed that they go to Central Park; however, he insisted that he really wasn’t interested in her.

According to Robert’s version, Jennifer became upset at his rejection and began tearing her own face off. Robert tried to leave, but Jennifer insisted that he stay with her.

On the way, Jennifer told him she was going to the bathroom; he stayed outside waiting for her. Robert told police that while he was standing there with his hands behind his back, she came to surprise him and tied his hands with her own underwear.

She then knocked him down, climbed on top of him and sexually assaulted him. Robert recounted that Jennifer grabbed his genitals and squeezed them very hard, causing a lot of pain.

As he struggled with her, he managed to free one of her hands, grabbed her by the neck and pushed her off him. Robert recounted that Jennifer fell near a tree and stopped moving.

For a moment, he thought Jennifer Levin was faking it, but then he got closer and realized she wasn’t kidding. Robert didn’t want to touch her, so he didn’t try to help her in any way.

Seeing that she wasn’t moving, he crossed to the other street, walking away from the scene while watching her from afar. He could even see when the police arrived and found the body.

According to his testimony, he was very frightened and went home to sleep. When he woke up, he hoped that it was a dream. However, he received a visit from the police.

Robert Chambers was always calm, did not ask for a lawyer, and maintained that it had all been an accident.

Despite all the story Robert had told, the detectives did not believe his words. This was a man twice Jennifer’s weight and much too tall to be subdued in such a manner.

Furthermore, the evidence from the forensic examination, the marks on the girl’s body and the rest of the samples did not agree with Robert’s version. However, Robert maintained his testimony all along, saying that he had been sexually assaulted by her and that her death had been an accident.

Who Was Robert Chambers?

Robert Emmet Chambers Jr. was born on September 25, 1966. He was an only child, and although he grew up in a wealthy family, they were not as wealthy as the rest of the families in the area.

With the support of various contacts and the church, his mother was able to put Robert through the best private schools. Although as a child he showed himself to be excellent in school, from the age of 14, he began to have academic problems.
In view of his problems with grades, he started using alcohol and drugs at a very young age. His father also expressed his disapproval of Robert’s poor performance in school.

His mother forced him to get involved with the elite young people at the time, but because of his poor grades, he could not integrate into the social circles his mother intended.

In 1984 his parents divorced and his drug problems increased. However, he managed to graduate from high school and entered Boston University under a program specializing in troubled youth in school.

After the murder, it was discovered that Robert was involved in credit card thefts, apartment burglaries and jewelry thefts. He once voluntarily entered rehab. However, days later, he dropped out.

Trial

Robert Chambers was charged with murder and arrested.

Because it involved two wealthy and privileged young men, the tabloids immediately paid special attention to the case and carried it as if it were a soap opera, forgetting the magnitude of what had happened. The case was even known as “preppy murder”.

Robert was facing second-degree murder charges and from the beginning, his attorney, poured all the guilt on Jennifer. Chambers pleaded not guilty, claiming it was an accidental murder.

Robert remained in Rikers Island Prison awaiting a bail hearing in late September 1986. The defense proposed bail on the grounds that Robert belonged to an impeccable family, his excellent education and his absence of a criminal record.

Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Newar, New Jersey, issued a letter supporting Robert Chambers’ bail request. He was a close friend of Robert’s family, so the defense attorney used this as a strategy to get a possible bail.

The power of the Catholic church was quite strong for the time in New York and this is how Robert Chambers was able to receive the option to post $150,000 bail. With the support of the church and the owner of the bar they had attended the night before the murder, Chambers complied with the bail payment.

On October 1, 1986, Robert Chambers was released on bail. During his release, the defense portrayed him as a polite, well-mannered young man with no signs of violence.

Prosecutor Linda Fairstein, for her part, investigated Robert’s background to prove otherwise.

Before the trial, the New York Times magazine published an article with an interview with Robert, and even included it on its cover. The dam began to portray Jennifer as a loose girl and even talked about her keeping a sex diary, which was later denied.

The defense attorney claimed that Jennifer Levin was a promiscuous woman and that her entire sexual history would serve as evidence, which led media outlets such as the New York Daily News to create headlines about the victim’s bad reputation.

The trial began in January 1988 and lasted more than ten weeks. The jury could not reach a unanimous decision, so both the defense and the prosecution reached a plea bargain. Robert pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, facing a sentence of up to 15 years.

During the trial, several DNA samples determined that this was a murder and that Robert had strangled Jennifer with his denim jacket.

Verdict

He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison in April 1988. In addition, the Levin family was awarded damages.

Robert served his sentence and was released in February 2003. However, he became involved in the drug business again and was arrested in 2007 again for drug use and assault.

In 2008, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison for selling cocaine and is awaiting parole in 2024.

So far we do not know what really happened the night of Jennifer Levin’s death. We only know the version of Robert Chambers, who so far continues to say that it was an accidental death.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many years did Robert Chambers get?

Robert Chambers was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder of Jennifer Levin.

Where did Jennifer Levin go to school?

Jennifer Levin was attending the Baldwin School in New York. She was about to start at Boston University.

Where is Robert Chambers today?

Robert Chambers is currently serving time for other crimes at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York.

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