The harrowing killing of Jennifer Levin by Robert Chambers, Jr. — dubbed the “Preppy Killer” — is the focus of a new documentary on Investigation Discovery which delves into the details behind her death.
Chambers, who was 19 at the time of the tragedy, was christened with his “Preppy Killer” nickname by the media after being accused of the murder of 18-year-old Jennifer in New York City’s Central Park.
Jennifer was found strangled in August 1986 after an argument with Chambers, and the killing received widespread media attention due to the perceived wealthy backgrounds of both the victim and the accused.
Chambers already had a reputation as a handsome, blue-eyed, well-educated young man, but with a dark troubled side which was fueled by drugs and alcohol. This image was enhanced by media coverage of the trial.
Jennifer’s death came after she and Chambers left a Manhattan bar together at around 4:30am. They knew each other previously, but it is alleged that this was a chance meeting. The two then had an altercation in Central Park, with Jennifer left dead while Chambers was scratched.
Chambers remained near the scene of the crime until police sent him home at around 6:30am. It was only when detectives visited Chambers at home that they noticed the scratches and became suspicious.
Under interrogation, Chambers admitted to killing Jennifer, but he blamed her for provoking him and accused her of sexually assaulting him. Given his much larger stature when compared with Jennifer, the police remained sceptical and charged him with murder. During his trial, his defence centered around claims that she died during “rough sex”.
With the jury unable to agree on a charge of second-degree murder, Chambers was eventually found guilty of first-degree manslaughter. Before the trial, Chambers was released on bail, but he refused to keep a low profile continuing with his partying ways. His bad boy image worsened when a videotape emerged revealing him actually making jokes about Jennifer’s death.
Jennifer, for her part, was portrayed by the defense lawyers as a promiscous young woman who had brought her death upon herself. Many in the press seized on this image of her, with her journal referred to as a “sex diary”. There was even a piece titled “How Jennifer courted death”.
Chambers was released in 2003, and promptly resumed his old life of selling and using drugs. He was eventually convicted again for drug offences, and sentenced to 19 years. He is up for parole in 2024.
Who Was the Preppy Killer? airs Saturday, November 9, at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.