Let us remember Karina Vetrano who was murdered on August 2, 2016 and do not forget her on her birthday on July 12. Let us pray for the victim and their family and hear from her parents.
Karina Vetrano, 30, was raped and strangled as she ran through Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach. (Instagram)
Karina Vetrano (July 12, 1986 – August 2, 2016) was a 30-year-old American woman who was attacked and murdered while jogging in Spring Creek Park in the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens, New York City The case, which attracted national media attention, went unsolved for nearly six months. A suspect, Chanel Lewis, was arrested and charged with her murder in February 2017 after being linked by DNA evidence.
INTERNET SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Karina_Vetrano
Karina Anne Vetrano was born July 12, 1986, in New York to Phillip and Cathie Vetrano. She had one sister. Her father, an New York City Fire Department retiree, was one of the first responders at Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks. She attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens and graduated from St. John's University with a Master's Degree in speech pathology. An aspiring writer, she appeared in a 2013 short film inspired by her writings and directed by her screenwriter friend Petros Georgiadis. She lived in the same Queens neighborhood as her parents and worked as a caterer at a local restaurant.
On August 2, 2016, in the late afternoon, Vetrano went for a run in Spring Creek Park, less than a block away from her home. She ran alone, despite the expressed concerns of her father, her usual running partner, who was suffering from a back injury. She was last seen alive after 5 p.m, just before she entered the park.
After she failed to return calls and texts, Vetrano's father notified a neighbor, an NYPD police chief, who launched a search. Around 11 p.m. her father found her body face-down about 15 feet off the trail. Partially naked, her body was covered with scratches and bruises. There was also evidence that she was sexually assaulted. An autopsy the next day confirmed that Vetrano had died of strangulation, and her death was ruled a homicide. Detectives said it appeared that Vetrano had been attacked hit in the back of the head with a rock. Vetrano then put up a "ferocious fight" against her attacker, biting him so hard her teeth cracked. Her hands were found clutching grass from when she was dragged off the trail. She had been strangled so tightly a hand-print was found on her neck. The DNA of her attacker was also found under her fingernails, on her back, and on her phone, which was found thrown in the weeds several feet away.
Police offered a $35,000 reward for information leading up to the arrest of her killer.
Despite the extradition of DNA from the crime scene, it failed to produce any leads, even after being run through local and national databases. Over 600 DNA samples were examined over the course of the investigation, with none coming up a positive match. Additionally, the NYPD checked over 1,700 investigative reports and followed over 250 leads.
Investigation and media coverage
On August 7, less than a week after Vetrano's murder, another New York City resident, 27-year-old Vanessa Marcotte, was found slain on a rural stretch of road in Princeton, Massachusetts. Marcotte was also killed during a jog, and much of the news reporting on the crime compared it to Vetrano's murder. However, DNA and other evidence proved the murders to have been committed by different men. Vetrano and Marcotte's deaths has led to narratives and discussions about the safety of women who exercise alone.
On August 31, police released a sketch of a "person of interest", a man who had been seen in near Spring Creek around the time Vetrano was killed. A utility worker had seen the man coming out of the weeds and running on a path by Belt Parkway. On September 12, the TV show Crime Watch Daily released a home surveillance video of Vetrano running near Spring Creek Park, minutes before she was killed. It is the last footage of her alive.
In December 2016, the FBI and the NYPD developed and shared a suspect profile of who may have killed Vetrano.
A GoFundMe page created by Vetrano's family, originally meant as a $250,000 reward fund for anyone with information about the killer, reached over $290,000, with the extra money to be donated to charity. Following the murder, the family had become outspoken proponents for familial DNA testing, pushing lawmakers to pass laws to authorize use of the practice. Despite the homicide being solved without it, they continue to advocate its benefits.
Arrest in the case
On February 4, 2017, the police announced that a suspect in the strangulation death of Karina Vetrano had been taken into questioning, later adding that Chanel R. Lewis, a 20-year-old Brooklyn resident, was placed under arrest and charged with one count of second-degree murder.
Lewis, who was unemployed, lived with his mother, two sisters and their children in a low-income housing project in East New York, less than 3 miles away from the park where he killed Vetrano. His DNA matched the genetic material found at the crime scene. As well, Lewis gave self-incriminating statements to police, including describing a peculiar puddle of muddy water that detectives had seen near Vetrano's body. Although he had no criminal record, he reportedly had a "hatred for women" and once told a teacher's aide he wanted to "stab all the girls" at his school several years earlier. He had been taken into protective custody numerous times and was described as a loner and mentally unstable. A neighbor who lived near the family had told reporters that he "terrorized" people in the neighborhood. It had been speculated that the attack may have been racially motivated, as Lewis, who is black, refused to speak to white detectives during the interrogation, and didn't confess until after he asked to speak to a black detective. During his confession, he also said that he "didn't like the people over there" referring to the Howard Beach neighborhood, historically an Italian-American community. His sister also expressed a strong dislike for and distrust of police officers.
Lewis also had several run-ins with police in the years before the murder, including three summonses in 2013: two for violating rules in Spring Creek Park and one for urinating in public. An additional incident occurred in May 2016 when a 9-1-1 caller reported a suspicious male with a crowbar in the backyards of several homes. An NYPD lieutenant who lived in Howard Beach also remembered him lurking around in the area looking into cars and traced him from when Lewis's name and address had been taken by police during a stop-and-frisk report.
According to investigators, on August 2, Lewis had left his home after arguing with his family and walked over to the park, where he came across, and then attacked, Vetrano. While it is believed to have been a completely random encounter, it is not definitely known if Lewis had ever seen Vetrano before, or premeditated the attack on her.
Upon returning home that night, his mother recalled him looking "disheveled" with his clothes torn and covered in scratches. Lewis claimed he had been mugged by a group of men, although there was no evidence of such an attack, and a police report was never filed. The next day, August 3, Lewis's father, a former school principal, took him to a local emergency room for treatment of scratches and cuts on Lewis's upper body. Hospital records confirmed that Lewis was treated by doctors the day after the murder, and that he had also suffered a bad hand injury. Lewis's family continued to deny his involvement in the homicide; his father claimed he had not heard of or read about Vetrano's death until after his son was arrested for it.
INTERNET SOURCE: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3728345/Parents-murdered-jogger-Karina-Vetrano-say-killer-pay-justice-served.html
'I guarantee you will pay forever as you f***ing burn in hell': Mother of murdered new York jogger delivers chilling message to her daughter's killer
- Karina Vetrano's mother, Cathy, had a chilling message for her daughter's murderer: 'you will pay forever'
- Cathy along with her husband, Phillip, spoke during a news conference on Sunday saying 'justice will be served'
- The mother called killer a 'coward' and said they'd soon have a face to the 'd**kless piece of garbage that you are'
- Press conference comes just a day after the mourning parents laid their daughter to rest on Saturday in Queens
- So many mourners attended that the service had to be broadcast on speakers for those who had to stand outside
- Police are still searching for the person who killed 30-year-old Vetrano on Tuesday during her daily jog
By Louise Boyle In Queens, New York For Dailymail.com and Myriah Towner and Anneta Konstantinides and Wills Robinson and Liam Quinn For Dailymail.com
Published: 06:54 +10:00, 8 August 2016 | Updated: 10:01 +10:00, 8 August 2016
The mother of murdered jogger Karina Vetrano, whose body was found after she went for a run in New York City, has a chilling message for her daughter's fugitive killer: 'I guarantee you — you will pay forever.'
Speaking during a news conference outside their Howard Beach, Queens home on Sunday, Cathy Vetrano said the killer must know the whole world is seeking justice.
'I'm here to remind you, in case you don't already know, that now it's the whole entire world against you,' she said after taking off her sunglasses to address the killer who she called a 'coward.'
'The whole entire world knows what a pathetic, puny, weak, piece of filth that you are... and soon, I know they're all going to know your face as well.
'Soon we're gonna have a face to the d**kless piece of garbage that you are.'
'And above and beyond all, you know that my daughter was a force to be reckoned with,' she continued while behind the podium outside their home as she was gathered by loved ones and her husband.
'And I guarantee you, I guarantee you, you motherf***er that you will be reckoning with that force not only for the rest of your pathetic life, but for the rest of eternity as you f***ing burn in hell. I guarantee you that.'
She went on to say how her daughter was a big believer in karma and described her as magical.
On the porch near where the group was standing, photos of Karina could be seen along with flowers - one large arrangement in the shape of a butterfly and one of the number 11.
'Eleven was her favorite number,' her father said after the couple delivered their statements.
'She loved butterflies, she loved rainbows, she loved nature, and that's what represents. She loved cats, also.'
A sign with a kitten's face was also hanging, featuring the phrase 'Triple Threat' across the top.
One of her friends told reporters that the phrase was in reference to how together, Karina and their other friend, were 'an unstoppable force' and a 'triple threat.'
The news conference came just a day after the mourning parents laid their daughter to rest.
Family and friends completely packed St Helen Roman Catholic Church in Howard Beach, Queens on Saturday to remember the aspiring writer who called her dad her best friend.
Phillip Vetrano, who discovered his daughter's body with police on Tuesday, spoke briefly at the service.
'She was so full of life, light, beauty and power,' he said. 'Just as a shooting star burns out at its greatest brilliance, so did Karina.'
Cathy Vetrano then read a poem she had written for her daughter more than 10 years ago.
'So fragile, my girl. A tiger she rages, she roars in this world,' the devastated mother read.
'The beauty, the temptress, free spirit she.
'Brilliant, resilient, powerful, dangerous, restless and proud.
'The heart of a lion, the soul of a lamb. Karina, my baby, you shine and you love.'
There was only standing room available at the service, which was broadcast on speakers to those who could not fit inside the church, according to Newsday.
Rev Francis Colamaria, who delivered the eulogy, said Vetrano was dedicated to health and fitness.
'This parish, this family, this neighborhood, our city, is gathered here in prayer racked by grief by the loss of Karina,' he said.
Vetrano's coffin was draped in white and gold.
Members of the FDNY lined up outside the door of the church as Vetrano's coffin was brought inside. Her father is a veteran of the force.
Vetrano's funeral comes just after police found the jogger's missing sneaker and earphones about 60 feet away from the woman's battered body.
The blue and gold New Balance sneaker and the earphones were found in opposite directions of each other in the tall-weeded park, sources told the New York Post.
The discovery of the items led investigators to believe that the murderer threw Vetrano's belongings during the attack.
Police are testing the items for DNA and fingerprints.
Vetrano's family had attended a wake on Friday.
Mourners could be seen embracing each other outside the doors of the James Romanelli-Stephen Funeral Home that afternoon.
Floral arrangements arrived throughout the day including a large pink and purple butterfly made of flowers.
A heavy NYPD presence surrounded the entire block which had been closed off by barriers and police tape.
Maria Atwell, whose brother works with Phillip Vetrano, attended the wake to pay her respects.
She broke down as she said: 'They are a very loving Catholic family. It's heartbreaking. She was a beautiful girl taken too soon.
'There are no words you can say to anyone. I hope they catch the b*****d who did this.'
Susan Marcetti spoke outside the funeral home. Her daughter was a friend of Karina Vetrano and planned to attend the wake later in the evening.
'She was just a beautiful person,' she said, adding that the family were distraught at the wake.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said earlier this week that the department believes there is a 'severe community threat' in the wake of Vetrano's murder in Howard beach, Queens, during her daily afternoon jog on Tuesday.
An autopsy late Wednesday confirmed Vetrano's cause of death was strangulation.
Boyce, according to NBC New York, said Vetrano 'put up a good fight' despite the horrific beating she suffered.
A police source told PEOPLE that Vetrano bit her attacker so hard, her teeth cracked.
The source added that investigators had recovered DNA from Vetrano's bruised body.
It comes after a used condom was found near where the jogger was attacked, police sources have said.
Phillip Vetrano found his daughter's body covered in cuts, scratches and bruises and with her shorts and sports bra pulled down.
Police still have no suspects, no leads and have not made any arrests.
They believe a stranger committed the horrific crime and have upped the reward to $10,000 after receiving only three tips.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said: 'We really need the public's help on this one.'
Vetrano, an aspiring writer, is believed to have broken up with her boyfriend just two days before her death.
But police have already ruled him out as a suspect after an alibi was provided.
According to the New York Post, the condom and a discarded wrapper were left near the scene - which was less than a mile away from where Vetrano lived.
NYPD sources told the New York Daily News there is evidence she was 'vaginally and anally raped'.
Police sources added that there was bruising to her buttocks and the backs of her upper thighs.
Phillip Vetrano had told his daughter not to run down the path near where her body was found - fearing she could be attacked by hobos and vagrants.
They would often run together, but a back injury meant he had to stay home that day.
Mr Vetrano reported his daughter missing at 5pm on Tuesday night after she failed to return from her afternoon workout at Spring Creek Park, near the Belt Parkway.
He was worried when she didn't return and called a police chief who lives near the family before phoning 911.
After Mr Vetrano called the police, he led officers down the track where she could have been heading towards the beach.
He then spotted her phone and started running. Moments later he found her lifeless remains face down in the tall grass.
She was believed to be texting a friend when she was attacked.
Cops have questioned two homeless people who live in the area.
They are also looking at surveillance video from nearby homes in a bid to catch the killer.
John Gotti's grandson recently said Howard Beach had declined as a neighborhood under the NYPD's watch.
Gotti, who said he knew Vetrano well, said the neighborhood was safer when it was in his grandfather's control.
'Yes some of them were gangsters, some of them were tough guys. But they put fear in the neighborhood,' he told the New York Daily News.
Gotti said he and Vetrano ran in the same social circles, calling her 'drop-dead gorgeous and a sweetheart'.
'I have a mother. I have a sister. I have a beautiful girlfriend. And you have this tragedy. It hits too close to home.'
'Her family will never be the same,' he said.
Vetrano described herself as a 'thrill seeker' and a 'day dreamer' on her Instagram page.
She went to the Catholic Archbishop Molloy High School.
She earned a master's degree from St. John's University in 2015, and worked as a caterer at the Vetro Lounge in Howard Beach, her neighbors told the Daily News.
A candlelight memorial vigil was held there on Wednesday night and drew more than 200 people.
Away from her work, Vetrano had a passion for writing. One of her pieces, The Paradox, was made into a short film in 2013.
She also had a blog made up of pieces of her work, Karina Vee.
In one post, she wrote: 'I think the most painful truth of existence is that nothing lasts forever.'
She also wrote: 'The majority of my life is on paper. I write to savor the moments that I'm terrified will get lost and forgotten in time if I don't document them.'
She hadn't uploaded any new stories or posts since 2014.
Pictures on social media showed her partying with friends or in workout gear.
They include snaps of her enjoying lavish events in St Tropez and New York.
A picture on her father's Facebook page shows him in FDNY uniform, standing in at Ground Zero during the clean-up operation.
However she had recently been very close to another huge tragedy.
In one snap Vetrano can be seen sitting next to a fountain in Nice on July 13 - a day before a truck ran down almost 400 people and killed 85.
Alongside the image, she wrote: 'I'm at a loss for words... This picture was taken less than 24 hours ago in Nice.
'We walked around the city for hours admiring how beautiful it was, & only a few hours ago I was still there.
'I can't believe this world, but I'm so grateful to be home.'
Cathy Vetrano GOES OFF On Her Daughter's Killer (WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE)
Published on Aug 7, 2016
This is the first time we are hearing from the Vetrano Family since Karina Vetrano was raped and killed while jogging in her hometown neighborhood of Howard Beach.
VIDEO SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jwUhm5AQcM&t=219s
A Prayer for Karina
Dearest Mother Father God, we know and acknowledge you as Source.
We hold ourselves as one with you, in a unity which flows through us and all creation. In our faith of this holy union, we step up to our declaration that Karina is whole, healed, and complete. We connect with that which is Divine in all of us and jointly extend our compassion to Karina and all those who love her, and whom she loves.
We assert that there is nothing in creation that can succeed in assaulting the Divine, and that our faith lives in the invisible realm of Spirit, bringing forth physical manifestation all around us. In this faith, for those of us who believe in Jesus, we ask in His name. For those of us otherwise connected, we call upon our love of God to sustain us all in a unity of Light and compassion.
We deliver her into your divine hands, for there is nowhere else with greater healing and compassion. Having delivered her to Your care, we release our prayer and intention to Your vast heart, and align ourselves with Divine Highest Good. Knowing that it is now done, we enter into gratitude, giving thanks for all now being well.