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Thread: Revisiting 1986 - Robert Chambers The Preppie Killer

  1. #1
    Elite Member Chalet's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Default Revisiting 1986 - Robert Chambers The Preppie Killer

    Something reminded me of this story. Does anyone remember it? His defense was "rough sex". I wondered what happened to him after he served his full sentence. Like OJ, he's been back in jail.

    Robert Emmet Chambers, Jr.[1] (born September 25, 1966), nicknamed the "Preppie Killer", is an American criminal. He pled guilty to manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Jennifer Levin. He killed her in New York's Central Park during the early morning hours of August 26, 1986.

    Early life

    Robert Chambers was raised by his mother, Phyllis (née Shanley), a nurse who emigrated from County Leitrim in Ireland to New York City. He served as an altar boy and attended a series of prep schools on scholarship, since his mother could not afford to pay private school tuition. Chambers did not prosper in an environment in which many of his classmates were considerably better off than he, and had problems with poor grades and antisocial behavior, including stealing and drug abuse. Among the schools he attended were Saint David's School, Choate-Rosemary Hall, The Browning School and ultimately York Preparatory School. Chambers also attended Wilbraham Junior High in Massachusetts during middle school.[2]

    Chambers was accepted by Boston University, where he completed one semester but was asked to leave because of difficulties, one involving a stolen credit card. He subsequently committed other petty thefts and burglaries in connection with his drug and alcohol abuse.

    Unable to hold a job, he was issued a summons for disorderly conduct one night after leaving the Upper East Side bar Dorrian's Red Hand, located at 300 East 84th Street in Manhattan. Chambers destroyed the summons as the police were leaving the scene, yelling, "You fucking cowards, you should stick to niggers!"[3]

    He later entered and was discharged from the Hazelden Clinic in Minnesota, an addiction treatment center. He lived with his mother in an apartment in a townhouse.

    Levin's death

    Levin's strangled, half-naked corpse, covered in bruises, bite marks, and cuts, was found by a bicyclist beneath an elm tree on a grassy knoll near Fifth Avenue and 83rd Street, behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[4] Her bra and shirt were pushed up to her neck, and her skirt was around her waist.[5] The city Medical Examiner's office said that Levin had died of "asphyxia by strangulation," and police officials had said that there were numerous bruises on her neck, both from the strangulation and from her own fingernails as she clawed at her killer's hands. Later, Chambers watched from nearby as police officers investigated the scene. The investigators had found Levin's panties some 50 yards (46 m) away.[5]

    Chambers' arrest

    Police were given Chambers' name by patrons at the bar, who had seen him leaving with Levin. When authorities arrived to question him at his home, he had fresh scratches on his face and arms, which he initially said were "cat scratches". He was taken in for questioning.

    Chambers changed his story several times: "his cat had been declawed"; he "didn't part from Levin immediately upon leaving the bar"; "she had parted from him to purchase cigarettes". (It was later discovered that Levin did not smoke.) In the final version of his confession, he claimed that some time after he and Levin had left the bar, she had asked him for "rough sex", tied the 6'5" Chambers' hands with her panties, and hurt his genitals as she stimulated him, and that she had been killed accidentally when he freed his hands and pushed her off him.
    Confronted with this explanation, Assistant District Attorney Saracco said: "I've been in this business for a while, and you're the first man I've seen raped in Central Park". The rape scenario was considered to be highly unlikely in light of the fact that Chambers was more than a foot taller than the 5'4" Levin, and at 220 lb (100 kg), he was almost double her weight.

    Before booking, Chambers was permitted to see his father, to whom he said, "That fucking bitch, why didn't she leave me alone?"[6]

    The trial, in court and in the media

    The media had labeled the crime "The Preppie Murder". Some of the New York media sources had reported the more lurid aspects of the case; for example, New York Daily News headlines read: "How Jennifer Courted Death" and "Sex Play Got Rough". Levin's reputation was attacked, while Chambers was portrayed as a Kennedy-esque "preppie altar boy" with a "promising future".

    Archbishop Theodore Edgar McCarrick of Newark, New Jersey, later Archbishop of Washington, wrote a letter of support for Chambers' bail application. He had known Chambers and his mother because Phyllis Chambers had been employed as a nurse by Cardinal Terence Cooke. McCarrick was close to the Chambers family and had served as Robert's godfather at his baptism.

    Chambers had secured bail through his family and the owner of the bar, Jack Dorrian (who used his $650,000 East Side townhouse to secure the $150,000 bond).[7] He then remained free on bond for the two years of his trial, reporting regularly to family friend Monsignor Thomas Leonard, a former teacher.

    Chambers was charged with, and tried for, two counts of second-degree murder. His defense was that Levin's death had occurred during "rough sex". He was defended by Jack T. Litman, who had previously used the temporary insanity defense on behalf of Richard Herrin for the murder of Yale University student Bonnie Garland. Prosecutor Linda Fairstein stated: "In more than 8,000 cases of reported assaults in the last 10 years, this is the first in which a male reported being sexually assaulted by a female."[8] The case popularized the strategy later colloquially termed, the "rough sex defense". The defense sought to depict Levin as a promiscuous woman who kept a "sex diary"; however, no such diary existed. Levin, instead, kept a small notebook that contained the names and phone numbers of her friends and notations of ordinary appointments. Such tactics were met with public outrage, with protesters (some calling themselves "Justice for Jennifer") demonstrating outside the courtroom.

    With the jury deadlocked for nine days, a plea bargain was struck in which Chambers pleaded guilty to the lesser crime of manslaughter in the first degree, and to one count of burglary for his thefts in 1986. He was sentenced to serve 5 to 15 years, with the sentence for burglary being served concurrently.


    In April 1988, the tabloid television program A Current Affair broadcast a home video showing Chambers at a party when he was free on bail. He was shown in the video playing with four lingerie-clad girls, choking himself with his hands while making loud gagging noises, and twisting a Barbie doll's head off, saying in falsetto: "My name is…Oops! I think I killed it."

    Chambers served most of his 15-year sentence at Auburn State Prison, but was later moved to Clinton Correctional Facility due to his infractions, which cost him all his time off for good behavior. He assaulted a correctional officer and was cited repeatedly for weapons and drug infractions, some of which resulted in additional criminal charges. Ellen Levin, Jennifer Levin's mother, also pleaded before the New York parole board to deny him parole. Nearly five years of his term were served in solitary confinement.

    In 1997, Chambers sent an untitled essay he wrote to prison anthologist Jeff Evans. The piece, subsequently titled "Christmas: Present", appeared in the book, Undoing Time: American Prisoners in Their Own Words.[9] Written while Chambers was incarcerated at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville, New York, the essay is an entry from one of his journals, which he calls "a record of the meaningless hope and frightening losses of a person I don’t even know."[10]

    Chambers was released from Auburn Prison on February 14, 2003, after having served the entirety of his prison term due to his numerous infractions. His release was a media circus, with news media staking out prime sections of sidewalk opposite the prison as early as 13 hours before his 7:30 a.m. release time.[11] The same day, Dateline interviewed Chambers. Chambers continued to claim that he strangled Levin accidentally in an attempt to stop her from hurting him during rough sex. He also denied that he had been disciplined in prison. However, he had numerous infractions, including assaulting a member of the staff, and was caught with heroin in his cell.[12]
    The owner of Dorrian's Red Hand settled with Levin's parents on their claim that the bar had served too much alcohol to Chambers. A wrongful death lawsuit, to which Chambers pled no contest, provides that he must pay all lump sums he receives, including any income from book or movie deals, plus 10 percent of his future income (up to $25 million), to the Levin family.[11] The family has said all the money it gets from Chambers will go to victims' rights organizations.[citation needed] Ellen Levin became an activist for victims' rights, helping to secure the passage of 13 pieces of legislation.

    After leaving prison, Chambers settled in Dalton, Georgia with his girlfriend, Shawn Kovell, who had appeared in the Barbie doll video made before his sentencing. The two lived there for eight to nine months. He found a job at the Pentafab dye factory. Chambers and Kovell moved to an East 57th Street Sutton Place, Manhattan apartment in New York, when the death of Kovell's mother in the autumn of 2003 left it vacant. Chambers found a job at a limousine company in Queens, and later in a New Jersey sports trophy manufacturer's engraving plant.

    Drug charges

    Shortly before Thanksgiving 2004, Chambers was stopped in his Saab for driving with a suspended drivers license in Manhattan on Harlem River Drive at 139th Street. A search of the car he was driving found glassine envelopes containing an unknown substance. Chambers was charged on November 29, 2004, with possession of heroin and cocaine, driving with a suspended license, and driving a car without a valid inspection sticker.
    Chambers pled guilty in July 2005, and on August 29 he was sentenced to a reduced sentence of 90 days in jail and fined $200 for the license violation. The judge added 10 days to the time prosecutors and Chambers' lawyer had agreed on because Chambers was an hour late for the hearing. He had faced up to a year in jail if he had been convicted after trial.[13]

    On October 22, 2007, Chambers was arrested again, this time in his own apartment,[14] and charged with three counts of selling a controlled substance in the first degree, three counts of selling a controlled substance in the second degree, and one count of resisting arrest.[15] Kovell was also arrested on one count of selling a controlled substance in the second degree. The New York Daily News reported:
    Cops said Chambers, 41, struggled with officers who tried to handcuff him on the felony charges. One detective suffered a broken thumb in the fracas.[16]
    Commenting on his new arrest, former Assistant District Attorney Linda Fairstein, who had prosecuted Chambers for Levin's murder, said:
    Doesn't surprise me. I always believed his problem with drugs and alcohol would get him in trouble again. He's had the opportunity in prison to detox and take college courses, to straighten out his life, but that clearly is of no interest to him. He's learned nothing in the last 20 years.[16]
    Chambers and Kovell were charged with running a cocaine operation out of the apartment. The two had previously been given notices for not paying the rent on the apartment, and the phone had been disconnected.[17][18] Chambers appeared in court on December 18; according to the New York Post, his lawyer, Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg, filed "new papers elaborating on his psychiatric defense".[19] The filing claimed that Chambers had become an addict at the age of 14 and was, by 2007, using 10 to 12 bags of heroin a day. It was also reported that he also used cocaine, was smoking marijuana and taking prescription drugs. Chambers planned to plead insanity. Prosecutors countered that Chambers was a drug dealer and had sold as much as $2,800 in heroin at a time to undercover police. Chambers faced life in prison on the drug charges.[20]

    On August 11, 2008, the Manhattan DA's office announced that Chambers had pled guilty to selling drugs. On September 2, 2008, he was sentenced to 19 years on the drug charge.[21]

    • In the novel American Psycho, Patrick Bateman mentions trying to start a defense fund for Chambers.

    Robert Chambers (criminal) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Preppie killer' Robert Chambers gets 19 years on drug charge

    Preppie killer Robert Chambers was sentenced today to 19 years in prison for drug-dealing - more time than he got for strangling Jennifer Levin in 1986.

    The 42-year-old prep school grad agreed to the long stretch as part of a plea bargain that allowed him to avoid a life sentence.

    The hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court was a brief, cut-and-dried affair.
    His hands cuffed, a jean-clad Chambers showed little emotion except to smirk at girlfriend Shawn Kovell, who was sitting in the audience with his father.

    Kovell's presence caused a stir in the courthouse and a threat by prosecutors to put her behind bars.
    She was busted with Chambers on coke-dealing charges in October but spared prison and ordered by prosecutors to enter drug rehab.

    When prosecutors spotted her in the courtroom, smiling at her boyfriend, they were furious. They called the rehab and hauled Kovell before the judge who sentenced her to probation in December.

    "She's apparently wandering around the city without an escort," said Assistant District Attorney Dan Rather Jr.
    "It should be made clear that she complies with the conditions of the plea agreement or she goes to jail."
    Justice Charles Solomon said he would contact the drug program, Paladia in the Bronx, for a status report.
    Kovell had no comment, but Chambers' dad seemed thrilled his son's gal pal would remain free.
    "They lost," he said of prosecutors, chuckling.

    Chambers got 15 years in prison after he admitted he killed Levin during "rough sex" in Central Park, one of New York's most infamous crimes.

    He had been free for just four years when he was busted for trying to sell cocaine to undercover cops.
    One of the detectives who nailed him, James Vanacore of Midtown South Narcotics, said that even if Chambers will be gray when he gets out, he should look on the bright side.

    "Considering he was facing a hundred years [if convicted at trial], 19 doesn't seem so bad," Vanacore said.

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  2. #2
    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Wherever my kids are


    but Chambers' dad seemed thrilled his son's gal pal would remain free.
    "They lost," he said of prosecutors, chuckling.
    Best dad since Paul van der Sloot!
    Sylkyn likes this.

  3. #3
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    this case always struck really close to home for me. it was huge locally, they were a couple of years older than us, and it seemed everyone had that friend that was involved with some creepy guy that you hated. they tried to tear her reputation apart when they discussed her at trial, it was disgraceful.
    It's no longer a dog whistle, it's a fucking trombone

    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.

    If I wanted the government in my womb I'd fuck a Senator

  4. #4
    Elite Member Trixie's Avatar
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    exiled and ostrich sized


    I hope he dies in prison. Preferably, a slow and painful death.

    I remember this case very well too, still have that People magazine around here somewhere. He was nothing but sociopathic scum in a pretty package. Not so pretty anymore though, from the pics I saw of his last arrest. I wonder what happened to the girlfriend--she's the same one who was with him after the Levin murder, and arrested with him in 2007. Is she still standing by her man?
    These people don't give a fuck about YOU or us. It's a message board, for Christ's sake. ~ mrs.v ~
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  5. #5
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    This is from 2007. He's aged better than your normal 20 year addict.
    i have to zero the contain to your level -bugdoll
    you can't even be ogirinal - Mary

  6. #6
    Elite Member Mel1973's Avatar
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    This case is pretty familiar to me. I was young when this happened and it was probably one of the first trials that I watched with disgust over (what I now know to be) slut-shaming. There was a local girl where Shedevil and I grew up that had something similar happen to her. Except it was her fucking scumbag husband of ONE WEEK who killed her. My bus driver was her dad and it was just awful!

    A brief (or not so brief depending on your reading and comprehension level):
    In the early morning hours of Friday, July 21, 1989, the Sabine Parish Sheriff's Office dispatched Deputy Tommy Sandel to the rural home of Mrs. Otto Corley, defendant's grandmother. Deputy Sandel arrived at the Corley residence at 2:08 a.m. and found the bruised body of Glenda Wilson Corley on the living room sofa. The defendant and his wife had been married approximately one week, but, prior to their marriage, had lived together for approximately one year. Present in the house were the defendant, his father (Charles Corley), younger brother (Scott Corley) and grandmother. The deputy learned that the defendant had awakened his grandmother by pounding on her door, and, when she awoke, she witnessed him attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on his wife. The defendant was wearing a pair of blue jean shorts that his wife had worn earlier. The wife's body was nude and covered with scratches and bruises. Mrs. Corley called her son, Charles Corley, who arrived to find the defendant at the opened front door still giving CPR in an attempt to revive his wife. When the father asked him what happened, the defendant did not respond. Scott Corley was also called to the scene.
    When Deputy Sandel asked the defendant what happened, his father responded that the defendant would not give a statement until he spoke to an attorney. Deputy Sandel did not attempt to further question the defendant. The defendant then took off his wife's shorts and put on his clothes, which he had retrieved from his car. The defendant also indicated to his father in the deputy's presence that he had lost his wedding ring.
    When the other deputies and detectives arrived, Deputy Sandel informed them of defendant's desire to speak with an attorney. While the defendant was seated in the back of a police car, his father again told the defendant, within the hearing of Deputy Sandel, not to give a statement until he spoke with an attorney. The defendant was taken from the Corley residence at 3:45 a.m. and arrived at the sheriff's office shortly after 4:00 a.m. At 4:15 a.m., he signed a form acknowledging he had been informed of his Miranda rights.
    At the Corley residence, the police were informed by Charles Corley that the victim's murder did not occur at the grandmother's home. Deputy Sandel recognized the mud on the defendant's car as "black land" mud originating from one of two roads in the parish. Shortly thereafter, the authorities located the murder scene on Ash Pond Road. At that location, they observed that only one car made tire tracks entering and leaving the dead-end logging road. The deputies also discovered a pair of female panties in the middle of the road plus signs of a chase and struggle in several locations.
    Detective James McComic described the murder scene. The tire tracks entered the road, turned around at some point, and then stopped 118 yards from the intersection with the main road. At that point, someone exited from the passenger's side but not the driver's side. The police found scuff prints and footprints in the road indicating that a scuffle or disturbance occurred outside the car. Then the footprints broke into two sets of footprints leading to another scuffle area. The footprints were spaced almost four feet apart, consistent with the long strides of persons running. The lead set of footprints were smaller than the pursuing set of footprints, and the smaller footprints were later identified as the victim's. The second scuffle, 27 yards from the car, occurred in the middle of the road. The footprints continued for another 30 yards where a third scuffle took place. The pair of panties were found at this spot. The final area of disturbance was located four feet away in the ditch on the road's east side, where the investigators detected broken brush limbs and disturbed ground. They also recovered the defendant's wedding band.
    When the deputies located and secured the murder scene, the defendant was already at the sheriff's office. Detective McComic and Deputy Jack Staton were aware that the defendant wished to consult an attorney before giving any statement. However, Detective McComic admitted that on at least one and possibly two occasions, he asked the defendant if he felt like talking to see if the defendant had changed his mind. The defendant continued to insist that he first speak to an attorney, and Detective McComic ceased his inquiries. The defendant was then taken by Deputies Staton and Joe Byles to the third floor jail for formal booking. Deputy Byles was unable to testify at trial, having suffered a stroke which rendered him unable to speak. Deputy Staton testified that, as he and Deputy Byles were leaving the defendant in the jailer's custody, Deputy Byles asked the defendant if he had anything to say or wanted to give a statement. The defendant responded that he would talk to Deputy Staton but not to Detective McComic. The defendant gave Deputy Staton an oral statement claiming that he and his wife were attacked by two unknown assailants who beat him and raped and killed his wife. Deputy Staton then asked the defendant to put his statement in writing. The defendant complied with this request by writing a three page statement which was completed at 6:40 a.m. Deputy Staton then notified Detective McComic that the defendant had given a written statement. No further statements were made by the defendant.
    Dr. George McCormick, a forensic pathologist, performed an autopsy on the victim and determined that she died as a result of both severe head injuries and strangulation. An examination of the neck wound revealed that the victim's blouse was used to cut off her air flow. The head injuries were more likely the result of blows from a closed hand, and the pathologist estimated she received over a dozen blows to her head, neck, upper chest and back. The scratches on her body were consistent with her being dragged through brush and bramble.
    The defendant entered a plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming that he was too intoxicated at the time of the crime to form a specific intent to kill, or that his long history of alcohol abuse resulted in a mental disease or defect rendering him unable to distinguish right from wrong at the time of the crime. After the defendant posted bail, he sought treatment for his alcoholism at an inpatient treatment facility. Several psychiatric experts testified about his alcohol problems. The major problems included "blackouts", periods of time in which a person becomes intoxicated to the point that he cannot remember what he did but remains alert and able to function. The defendant claimed to have no recollection of the beating and strangulation of his wife because he had become so intoxicated that he suffered a "blackout". The defendant also had a history of DWI arrests and convictions. After a night of drinking in February of 1989, he pulled his car out of a nightclub parking lot head-on into an eighteen wheeler truck, causing life-threatening injuries to Glenda Corley.
    The defendant's family and friends testified that he had spent the day and evening of July 20, 1989, drinking beer and whiskey. That evening, while the defendant and his wife were visiting his father, he consumed almost an entire fifth of whiskey. His wife drove as they left his father's residence.
    One bit of evidence which did not become apparent until the week before defendant's trial was the testimony of Lynn Saffold Corley (no relation to the defendant), formerly the victim's close friend. In October of 1988, the victim informed Lynn Saffold Corley that she and the defendant's youngest brother, Aaron Corley, had a sexual encounter after a night of heavy drinking with friends. At the time, the defendant and Glenda were not married nor engaged to be married, but they were living together in the same apartment. The defendant never mentioned anything about this until after his father told him about it on the night after the first day of jury selection. At that moment, the defendant claims to have recalled the victim, on the night of her death, telling him about the sexual encounter with his brother. The defendant argued this fact was sufficient provocation to reduce his crime to manslaughter.
    The jury found the defendant guilty of second degree murder and rejected the insanity and intoxication defenses, and either did not believe that the defendant was aware of his brother's one-night affair with his then live-in girlfriend, or did not find such fact sufficient provocation to reduce his crime to manslaughter.

    This story really touched me. I think I was 16 at the time of Glenda's death and my brother's and I used to play at the dump (yea, we are THAT redneck family) when we were kids... not dumpster diving - just busting bottles & shit. Anyway, that summer her family hauled all her stuff there and I remember seeing her little jewelry box and her diary and it just broke my heart for her that only God knew (and that piece of shit husband) what happened to that woman the night of her death.
    Kill him.
    Kill her.
    Kill It.
    Kill everything... that IS the solution!
    twitchy molests my signature!

  7. #7
    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Lord,Mel! That is just chilling. I never heard of that case. I can't believe her family threw out her diary. Poor woman.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

  8. #8
    Elite Member Flygirl's Avatar
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    That's such a sad story to think of her belongings just being tossed out like that. I'm afraid I'm one of those parents who wouldn't be able to ever touch my child's room if, God forbid, somthing happened to her.

    I can't believe the family in that top story sued the bar owner (the same bar owner who bailed his ass out of jail!) for serving him too much alcohol. I have been drunk off of my ass, and have never felt the urge to harm another human being because of my intoxication. The worst thing that happens is I want to howl out some God-awful karaoke and hump random inanimate objects.
    Seapharris7 likes this.

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