Robert Chambers: The Preppie Murderer
Jennifer Levin Shortly Before Her Murder
Murder in Central Park
The odd case of The Preppie Murder took place way back in 1986: four years before the country was shocked by the murders ofDan and Linda Broderick, and 23 years before the gruesome slaying of Travis Alexander at the hands of his ex-girlfriend, Jodi Arias. Although the latter crimes of passion were brutal and disturbing, they certainly did not match the murder of Jennifer Levin in central park when it came to mystery, brutality, and a shockingly arrogant psychopath who made Betty Broderick seem humble and Jodi Arias seem clever. Robert Chambers was not an adroit liar, nor was there any reason for people to feel sorry for him. The nation was outraged at his callus behavior and oddly shocking tales of kinky sex in central park.
On a warm summer morning on August 26,1986 the body of a young girl was discovered by a cyclist in Central park. This bicyclist would ride this same pattern every morning and the sight of a person lying down was not very odd, but there was something disturbing about this one. It seemed alarmingly stiff. There was a few seconds in which she thought she was looking at a department store mannequin, just as the woman who first discovered the Black Dahlia's body during the winter of 1947 in Hollywood had. She got off her bike and walked toward the body to find that the clothes were tangled up around the neck, and this young girl appeared to have been beaten, because there were strange red marks on her neck.
This was at a time before cellular phones and the bike rider had to find a phone booth to call the police. Shortly after calling the police, an army of cops and detectives were on the scene.
When the police and detectives examined the body they assumed that they were looking at the body of a prostitute until they spotted her expensive designer shoes. This teenage girl had a wallet full of high school friends photos, and credit cards with a drivers license. They now had an identity. This was 18 year old Jennifer Levin who had just graduated from High School a few months before earlier.
A few yards away on a low wall sat a handsome young man with nasty scratches on his face watching the scene unfold. A bystander who had become curious about all the police and commotion asked this young man what was happening. He casually said that he believed the police found a body. They made small talk about what they thought could have happened until going their separate ways.
When the police began questioning in effort to trace Levin's footprints, they came across Robert Chambers, a strikingly handsome man with fresh scratches on his face, hands and arms. He was cooperative and willing to help the police in any way that he could, even going to the park to help them figure out how she had become separated from her friends.
When asked how he had gotten the scratches, he said that his cat had done it. The police were immediately suspicious.
They brought Robert Chambers to the station and continued questioning him about the scratches with Chambers confidently answering how each of the scratches had happened.
The story was already on all the news programs and reporters were now clamoring at the police station to see if they could get some tidbits of information.
The police finally broke Chambers down by saying that his story was ridiculous.
With the videotape machine recording, he, (6'4" ) said that 5'4" Jennifer Levin was hurting him sexually and in an effort to defend himself he reached up and accidentally killed her with one slap.
They booked Chambers on the spot, and the excited crew of reporters shot dozens of photos of Chambers while hurling questions, "why did you kill her."
Robert Chambers has always stuck to the story that Levin's death was an accident that happened in an instant, but the horrific crime scene photos tell another story. It appeared that Jennifer had fought hard for her life due to the scratches all over Chambers and Levin's broken finger nails. Her body was left cruelly exposed, with her shirt hiked way up exposing her breasts, and her mini skirt pulled up around her waist. It seems that Jennifer's blouse was used to strangle her.
In a painful court trial Robert Chambers plea bargain resulted in a manslaughter charge in which he served 15 years.
The Chambers case received tremendous media coverage due to the fact that it was such a strange case, but also because it was one of the first times in which police interview footage was played on the news. People actually saw Robert Chambers say that he and Jennifer were out for some "rough sex" and that it went too far, resulting in Jennifer's accidental death.
In 2003 Chambers had finished serving his term and has not been out of trouble with the law since. He and his girlfriend have been arrested on more than one occasion for various drug charges.
Amazon- The Preppie Murder
Dorrian's Red Hand
The upper East Side of Manhattan was a favorite hangout for Jennifer Levin and her friends. In particular a bar called Dorrian's Red Hand, which is still in business today and has become a tourist attraction for those who followed the case in the 1980s. Jennifer and Robert had been casually acquainted in the past, and now Chambers had just had a fight with his girlfriend and was sitting in Dorrian's alone.
Jennifer was very attracted to Robert, and had sex with him a few weeks before, but Robert being the sex god he was just could not stay focused on Jennifer, but she had said to her friends that she really wanted to win Chambers over. She approached Chambers in Dorrian's with the line, "I just wanted to let you know that the sex I had with you was the best I have ever had". After talking and flirting briefly with Chambers, they walked out together. On their walk home they stopped in the park for some light romance and conversation, and Jennifer was never seen again.
These are the only facts we have.
These facts and the story that Chambers told of how Jennifer had died of a single blow, that was not intended to cause any serious damage, but Jennifer's family along with her attorney remain positive that somehow Jennifer angered Chambers to the point of he losing his temper and beating her to death.
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Ausseye on October 15, 2012:
Hi Skar-let a scar you left: A blight on both justice and equality. Equality between the victim and the criminal is so far out of wack that it makes a mockery of justice. A moment of passion should not end in such a disaster unless you are dealing with a very cold brained person, cols in nature and cold in ethics and unfortunately very warm on the ways to deal with the justice system, brains that make for a lesser world!!!
Angela Michelle Schultz from United States on June 11, 2012:
I hate stories like these, but I feel compelled to read them.
Skarlet (author) from California on June 11, 2012:
Thank you jacqui, Paula, and billybuc.
This is a strange one. I guess the real frustration is that he could have had it all, and created all this craziness in his life, and sadly destroyed so many people.
@billybuc- haha. only 61 more to go. I hope I can do this.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 11, 2012:
Yes, I do remember this, and I love Paula's description...smug little bastard...that's what I remember most about him. Great look back! One more down on your march towards 200.
Suzie from Carson City on June 11, 2012:
Skarlet....I remember this case, very well. I also read the book, can't recall the author, at the moment.
Chamberlain is your basic psychopath....a real narcisist, spoiled, silver spoon piss pot.....the kind of smug little bastard, I wanted to reach into the TV screen and slap the smirk off his pretty face!
jacqui2011 from Norfolk, UK on June 11, 2012:
I actually remember this as breaking news on the television, shortly after I celebrated my 21st - I'm 47 now! I think that there was a movie made about it too. It was a tragic waste of a young life.