Police investigating the brutal August 20 murder of New York jogger Karina Vetrano have finally made an arrest in the case. According to an official who briefed the media on the development, following the arrest of 20-year-old Chanel Lewis on Saturday, the Brooklyn man confessed to killing 30-year-old Karina.
Officers working the case say that during his two videotaped confessions, Lewis admitted that on the day of the stunning young woman’s murder, he had been angry about problems at home, leaving his apartment to get away from the situation. As ABC News reported, the Karina Vetrano murder suspect confessed that when he saw his victim running through Spring Creek Park in Queens, he “just lost it” and attacked her.
Police allege that, at the time of the attack and murder, Karina was running alone along her usual path, in the park. Often, she and her father ran the trail together, but not that fateful day. According to Chanel Lewis’ taped confession, he simply attacked Vetrano, hitting and choking her to death and leaving her battered body in the tall weeds near the park’s running path.
Though investigators claim that Karina was sexually assaulted at some point during the horrific murder, Lewis denies raping the 30-year-old. He did, however, provide law enforcement with what they are calling a “detailed description” of the unthinkable crime.
Investigators believe that Karina Vetrano was a randomly chosen victim, and that she and Lewis were total strangers before he allegedly “lost it” and murdered her.
Chanel Lewis has been charged with second-degree murder in the violent death of Karina Vetrano. Investigators reportedly first made contact with their suspect (and, according to investigators, admitted murderer) just last week. At that time, Lewis is said to have provided detectives working the case with a DNA sample, voluntarily. Police say that his DNA matched evidence found at the Karina Vetrano murder scene, and Lewis was arrested and charged on February 4.
According to law enforcement, a search of the murder suspect’s home revealed additional evidence, including the clothes that they believe Lewis was wearing when Karina was attacked and killed.
According to Theresa Forbes, half-sister to the murder suspect, she doesn’t believe police have the right man. She claims that Lewis is not a killer and she says that she thinks police are setting him up.
“The cops need to go do their job and find the real killer and take my brother out of jail. He would never kill anybody, much less a woman. He loves females.”
As New York Daily News reports, a source close to the investigation paints a completely different picture of the persona of the Karina Vetrano murder suspect. In fact, the source claims that Lewis, despite not having a criminal record, has long possessed a deeply-held hatred for women in general.
“He doesn’t have a criminal record. But he’s had previous incidents in which he has expressed a hatred for women. He’s thought of hurting women or attacking women. He’s expressed a deep-seated aggression towards women. But it was nothing he’s ever acted on.”
According to investigators in the case, their murder suspect admitted that he killed Karina in something of a blind rage.
“He gave a detailed incriminating account of what happened — but he doesn’t really explain why it happened. It was a very random thing. He just came up on her and acted out.”
Police say that after his arrest, Chanel Lewis was cooperative and even “forthcoming,” but persists in denying that he sexually assaulted Vetrano during her violent murder.
At the murder suspect’s Sunday arraignment in Queens Criminal Court, he was ordered held without bail. When he appeared before the judge, Lewis was wearing a bullet-proof vest. Chanel Lewis has not yet entered a plea in the Karina Vetrano murder case.
In addition to facing second-degree murder charges in the slaying, authorities say that a grand jury is reviewing the case to determine whether or not sexual assault charges will also be filed.
Lewis is reportedly being represented by The Legal Aid Society, and according to a statement, the organization has a “full team” working on the case.” They have asked that the public not jump to conclusions or rush to judgement, despite the high emotions swirling around the Karina Vetrano murder.
“We have a full defense team working on this case, including our DNA unit dedicated to scrutinizing the evidence collected by local authorities. We are spending this critical time getting to know our client and his family and reviewing all the facts associated with this case. We caution everyone — including the media — not to rush to immediate judgment. As our judicial system affords, Mr. Lewis is entitled to fairness and due process.”
During his court appearance, multiple members of the suspect’s family were in the courtroom, including Lewis’ father. Almost 20 members of Karina Vetrano’s family were also in attendance; her family has been doggedly supporting the police investigation since the day of her murder.
[Featured Image by Vetrano Family/New York Police Department]