Content Warning: Descriptions of violence are ahead.
In 1986, Jennifer Levin was murdered, and, for the next several years, her reputation would be attacked as well. AMC's docuseries The Preppy Murder, aims to course correct that.
According to the New York Times, the 18-year-old's body was found in Central Park with bruises and marks that indicated that she was likely assaulted before she died, but the man responsible for her death claimed that he was the one assaulted. Robert Chambers, then 19 years old, claimed that Levin had tied him up and engaged in "rough sex" that hurt him, per the Orlando Sentinel. He claimed that he pushed Levin off and that one move killed her. (However, the Times reported that Levin officially died from "asphyxia by strangulation.") According to the Sentinel, Chambers pleaded guilty in 1988 to manslaughter and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, per CBS News.
According to USA Today, Levin and Chambers reportedly had a sexual relationship before the night she died. This information and Chambers' graphic story became tabloid fodder with headlines like, "Jenny killed in wild sex,'" and "sex play 'got rough.'" Levin's previous sexual history was called in question as if it related at all to the incident of her death. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the lawyer for the prosecution had to contend with the notion that "it was very natural for people to say, she asked for it, she walked into Central Park on her own two legs at four in the morning, what do you think she wanted?"
Levin's treatment post-death is what eventually inspired the AMC documentary. USA Today reported that co-director Ricki Stern wanted to take another look at the case and how everything played out in this now post-#MeToo era. At the actual time, CBS News reported that Chambers served his 15 years and was released in 2003. According to People magazine, Levin's family later sued Chambers in a wrongful death civil case, which he pleaded no contest to. Chambers was ordered to pay the family $25 million.
Chambers' trouble with the law did not stop upon his 2003 release. In 2007, Chambers was charged with selling cocaine out of his apartment. According to the New York Times, he pleaded guilty in 2008 to avoid the potential of a life sentence. Instead, he was sentenced to a little over 19 years in prison. He's still serving out that time today. His New York Department of Corrections profile says he's being held at Sullivan Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Sullivan County, New York. His earliest possible release date is January 2024, by which time he'll be 57 years old.
The Preppy Murder series concludes with its fifth episode on Nov. 15, on AMC and Sundance. According to USA Today, Levin's family and friends cooperated with the docuseries, with one friend Jessica Doyle deeming it her chance to correct the public narrative about Levin and her untimely demise. The show obviously cannot bring Levin back, but it can bring back some of her dignity.