30-year-old Vetrano was found dead with her jogging pants pulled down to her knees after being reported missing by her father when she didn’t return from her regular 5pm run in Queens on August 2.
CCTV footage captured the last image of Karina Vetrano jogging before her disappearance
Fitness fanatic Karina Vetranos was found dead in a wooded area of a park after going jogging through Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach, Queens, NY
The search reportedly turned up a possible suspect, and a DNA match soon followed.
Alleged suspect Chanel Lewis was tracked by investigators with the aid of familial DNA testing
Officers arrested 20-year-old Chanel Lewis this weekend, and charged him with the murder of Karina Vetrano.
Lewis of Brooklyn, NY who lives at home with his mother was flagged three times for summonses around the park before the savage slaying, authorities said Sunday.
He was and arraigned Sunday on murder and sexual assault charges, after DNA recovered from the victim’s body and phone linked him to the crime.
According to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, Lewis allegedly offered: “detailed incriminating statements and admissions” to detectives, Boyce said.
“This defendant admitted to attacking the victim, admitted to beating her, to strangling her and dragging her body into the weeds,” Queens assistant district attorney Michael Curtis said.
Investigators say Lewis admitted to attacking the Vetrona, beating her and strangling her bfore dragging her body into the weeds
Praising the work of investigators who reportedly, were searching for a mystery man who used to jog the same route as Karina Vetrano ‘four times a week’ after he went missing.
Karina’s mom Cathy Vetrano said: “The demon [Lewis] must get his justice. We will see to it.”
Dad Phil, who found her body, said: “I’m not going to say it is a good day but we can move forward now.
“We know who did this.”
“I’m literally shaking right now,” a close friend of Vetrano’s said after rushing over to the family’s Howard Beach home. “I want to see his face. I want to see if I know him.”
The 30-year-old Vetrano vanished on the night of Aug. 2 after leaving for a jog through Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach.
Her father found her lifeless body facedown amid towering weeds about 15 feet off the desolate path while helping police search for her.
Vetrano was raped and strangled after putting up a furious fight, authorities said.
The slaying sparked a massive manhunt that yielded few clues.
Thursday marked the sixth-month anniversary of the murder.
In the days and weeks following her killing, Vetrano’s parents Phil and Cathy made a series of impassioned pleas for someone to turn in the perpetrator.
Police recovered her killer’s DNA from Vetrano’s body, but the sample did not match anyone in the New York and national DNA databases of convicted criminals.
Cops and prosecutors successfully pushed for the state Commissioner on Forensic Sciences to allow a familial DNA test be done to establish a possible linkage through the identity a family member of the killer.
Video footage also captured Vetrano during her last run, before she was sexually assaulted and murdered. The video, filmed near Spring Creek Park on Aug. 2 at 5:46 p.m., shows Vetrano jogging in black Spandex shorts and a running top about five hours before her body was discovered by her father, Phil Vetrano and a search party.
NYPD officers were posted outside the Vetrano home Saturday night
Police had been using CCTV footage of Karina’s last moments to hunt down alleged killer, Chanel Lewis
Police recovered the murderer’s DNA from Vetrano’s body, but the sample didn’t match anyone in either New York or national DNA databases of convicted criminals.
Cops also cobbled together a sketch of a “person of interest” seen in the park around the time of the murder, but it failed to produce a break in the case.
Earlier this week, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce revealed that investigators had a “strong lead” in the case.
“We’ve had many strong leads as you know, but they haven’t made any progress in the investigation,” said Boyce. “That area … where Brooklyn meets Queens, we’ve looked through every summons, every arrest from the 106 Precinct right into the 75 and 73 (precincts).”
A development from this case was the fact that Vetrano’s family and the New York police used the case to push for the state to allow familial DNA testing, which would create partial matches with suspects relatives.
Advocating for the establishment of the precedent, Deputy Chief Emanuel Katranakis offered “This is a powerful investigative tool that we want made available to the NYPD and the public,” Deputy Chief Katranakis said .
“There is clearly a public need for the victims and the victims’ families to bring closure in some cases and to fight crime.”
Love of living: The fitness fanatic was said to be a keen poetry fan and writer
As the victim’s father accurately predicted Thursday before the suspect’s arrest: “He can grow a beard. He can cut off his genitals and become a female,” Vetrano said on Thursday as he mourned the anniversary of his daughter’s death. “That will not matter, because he cannot change his DNA.