Robert Chambers, also known as the “Preppy Killer” after he strangled a teenage girl to death in New York City’s Central Park over 30 years ago, has been released from prison after serving a lengthy sentence for unrelated drug and assault charges.
Chambers, 56, was sentenced to 19 years in prison in 2008 for dealing narcotics though he ultimately served 15 years for those crimes. He will remain on parole until 2028. His stint in jail for drugs and assault came a few years after he finished serving time for the death of 18-year-old prep school student Jennifer Levin.
Levin’s partially nude, disheveled and brutalized body was found in Central Park by a cyclist in August 1986. When arrested in connection to Levin’s murder, Chambers initially told police she died after the two engaged in consensual “rough sex” following drinks at a local bar in New York City, Dorrian’s Red Hand.
Chambers, a York Preparatory School student, was popular, handsome and in high demand: The night he strangled Levin, according to New York magazine, he had a blow-out with his then 16-year-old girlfriend at Dorrian’s. It was reportedly that exchange that prompted Levin to pursue Chambers that evening. She and Chambers flirted until the early morning before leaving the bar just before dawn. Levin was found dead later that morning.
Chambers’ murder trial stretched for nine days in 1988 and ended with jurors unable to reach a verdict. Mid-deliberation, a deal to plead guilty to the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter was offered by prosecutors and Chambers took it. For the manslaughter of Levin, he would be sentenced to 15 years in prison. In a morbid twist of fate, he was released on Valentine’s Day 2003.
At the 1988 murder trial, Chambers insisted that he accidentally strangled Levin when she “hurt his genitals during rough sex,” according to the New York Times. When he was first interviewed by police, he said it was Levin who raped him.
Proceedings were a veritable feast for tabloids given the contrast between the gruesome, senseless killing and Chambers’ seemingly rags-to-riches upbringing and polished good looks. The events inspired a made-for-TV movie in 1989 and 20 years later, the crime was the focus of a documentary for AMC, The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park.
In an interview with the Times after Chambers’ release in 2003, Levin’s mother, Ellen Levin, said Chambers had “never admitted any culpability in this crime, he has never shown any remorse, he has never truly said he is sorry for the pain he inflicted on my family.”
Ellen Levin also somewhat presciently remarked after his initial release, “Some drug dealers and people arrested for assault get a longer sentence than he got.”
As it would turn out, it would be just four more years until Chambers was arrested again. Chambers was charged with selling drugs out of his apartment. Multiple grams of cocaine were found as well as crack pipes and packing materials, according to the Manhattan district attorney at the time, Robert Morgenthau. Chambers’ time in prison was reportedly riddled with disciplinary issues, including smuggling heroin and marijuana as well as a “shank” made out of a razor.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]