‘The Preppy Murder: Death In Central Park’: Is Jennifer Levin’s Killer Robert Chambers Still in Prison?

Before there was the O.J. Simpson case, the Menendez murders, or the Casey Anthony trial, there was the Preppy Murder. 

When the body of 18-year-old Jennifer Levin was discovered in the early hours of August 26, 1986, in New York’s Central Park, it didn’t take long for police to identify a suspect. Witnesses told investigators they’d seen Robert Chambers leaving an Upper East Side bar with the victim. Police swiftly arrested the 19-year-old and charged him with Levin’s murder.

The case and ensuing trial became a tabloid sensation, especially once the photogenic prep school alum Chambers — dubbed the “preppy killer” — claimed that Levin had died accidentally during rough sex.  

‘The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park’ looks back at Levin’s murder 

Daily News front page headline "How Jennifer Courted Death'
The front page of the New York Daily News on August 29, 1986 | NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

The new five-part docuseries The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park looks back on Levin’s murder and Chambers’s trial. It casts a critical eye on the culture of victim-shaming that allowed the defense to portray the victim as a promiscuous young woman who kept a “sex diary.” It also examines the relentless media coverage of the case. At the time, newspapers like the New York Daily News ran lurid front-page headlines like “How Jennifer Courted Death”

“The series examines the circumstances that made Jennifer’s case play out the way it did — as a victim-blaming led narrative that fueled a tabloid media war. This story of sexism, elitism, and an imperfect justice system both illuminates the past and has relevance to a vital conversation today,” Sarah Barnett, president of AMC Networks’ Entertainment Group said in a statement. 

The series features interviews with family and friends of both Levin and Chambers. Prosecutor Linda Fairstein — who later prosecuted the infamous Central Park Five case — also participated in the documentary. 

What happened to Robert Chambers? 

Robert Chambers getting into a car
Robert Chambers leaves court in 1988 murdering Jennifer Levin in Central Park. Photo by Jon Simon/Bettmann via Getty Images

Chambers’s high-profile 1988 trial ended in a deadlocked jury. A plea deal resulted in a 15-year sentence on manslaughter and burglary charges. He was released from prison in 2003. 

However, it didn’t take long for Chambers to find himself in trouble with the law again. He was caught selling selling cocaine out of his New York apartment and sent back to prison in 2008. He’s currently serving a 19-year sentence at Sullivan Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in Fallsburg, New York. His earliest possible release date is January 25, 2024. 

Jennifer Levin’s mother speaks out

Jennifer Levin
Jennifer Levin | SundanceTV

Jennifer Levin’s mother Ellen Levin is angry that Chambers will spend more time in prison for drug crimes than her daughter’s murder. 

“I thought it was outrageous that he got more time for selling drugs then he did for killing Jennifer,” she told the Today Show in 2016. 

“I can imagine that there was somebody on the jury that thought he was a clean-cut young man who would never do anything like this,” she said of her daughter’s murder trial. “I think that juries don’t work all the time.”

The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park premieres Wednesday, November 13, at 9/8c on AMC and Sundance TV.

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