The popular name for a 1986 murder that launched both the "rough sex" defense and trash TV show Current Affair. It was called "the preppy murder" because the accused Robert Chambers Jr. and his victim 21-year-old Jennifer Levin were both scions of Manhattan's social elite. As was the style in those days, they were both "preppy".

Jennifer Levin's body was found partially nude in Central Park. She had been strangled to death sometime after spending the night with her friends at a bar called "The Red Hand". The medical examiner reported the force used to strangulate Levin indicated a large, powerful man. Friends quickly fingered Chambers, who was not only one of the last people to be seen with her but he was a 6'4" tall solid hunka hunka young man.

When the police went to interview Chambers they found deep scratches on his face and hand. He claimed the scratches on his face were caused by his cat and the wounds on his hand were the result of an accident with a floor sander. Uh huh.

Although hundreds of people get murdered in New York every year, the media seized on this case because it was about a) sex b) young rich people acting badly and having sex c) Robert Chambers had movie star looks.

Chambers was quickly arrested. His defense was they were having rough sex in Central Park, sex that was not entirely consensual on the part of Chambers. He claimed she accidentally strangled herself while performing some odd flip maneuver while she had her blouse wrapped around her neck. Chambers claimed, further, he couldn't even have strangled her if he wanted to. She had bound his hands behind his back with her panties. Chamber's story was unable to explain the injuries to her neck and chest, however.

"She was having her way with me. Without my consent. With my hands tied behind my back..."

Before Chambers' murder trial, his defense used back channels to portray Levin as a worldly slut who'd easily, eagerly rape a man twice as powerful as her in a public park. Oddly the local media began to side with Chambers' side of the story, ignoring his past run ins with the law over stolen credit cards, break ins, and fencing stolen goods at area pawn shops. At one point he was admitted to a clinic when his heavy drinking and drug use became unmanageable. Chambers made a nearly fatal mistake, however.

If his good looks weren't enough to get him on several A-lists, his sudden celebrity and bad-assed image drove women wild. He was invited as the guest of honor to an all-girl-slumber party. Someone had a video camera and got Chambers to mug for the camera. Chambers put on a wig and mimicked Levin being strangled. He then picked up a Barbie doll and twisted its head off. "Oh. I think I killed her," he quipped to the running video camera.

The tape was aired on Current Affair. The show reportedly paid $10,000 to the enigmatic videographer. Up until then Current Affair was a trashier version of Entertainment Tonight. However its ratings skyrocketed when it showed the tape. Chambers unsympathetic mockery of Levin's death helped shift public opinion away from him. Previously he was a sympathetic victim, a young clean-cut man agonizing over the accidental death of a close woman friend, a man railroaded by a system that can't accept men can be raped by women. Now he seemed like a mindless party head who was nearly making a murder confession on tape. Stupid boy. More than a few people simply didn't like the fact they themselves never got invited to sexy coed panty parties.

Chambers trial nearly ended in a hung jury. It seesawed between a 8-4 vote for acquittal to a 9-3 vote for second degree murder. The prosecution and defense, sensing a hung jury and sensing a retrial would be too much for the city and the victim's family, got Chambers to agree to a plea bargain. He plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter with a sentence between 5 to 15 years. As of December 2002, Chambers was still in jail. He has not been a model prisoner. He has violated several prison rules and was found in possession of pot, which have added time to his sentence.

A TV movie based on the murder was made in 1989 called The Preppie Murder (note the different spelling of Preppy). It starred Billy Baldwin as Chambers. Levin was played by Lara Flynn Boyle.