Karina Vetrano was found dead on Tuesday in Queens, and police say the missing jogger had been strangled and possibly sexually assaulted.
Several hours after she failed to return from a jog on Tuesday evening, Vetrano’s body was discovered in a marshy area of Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach, Queens. Thirty-year-old Vetrano was running on a nearby path when she went missing, PIX 11 reported.
Karina Vetrano’s father first reported the woman missing when she failed to return home. Her father usually accompanied Karina on her evening jog, but he had hurt his back and stayed home on Tuesday.
Her father, who is a retired fire department official, helped to organize a search party that found the woman’s body, which was located about 15 feet off the jogging path.
Officials were able to track a ping from Vetrano’s cell phone to a marshy area near 161st Avenue and 78th Street just off the Belt Parkway bike path, NBC New York reported. The report noted that she was found face down in a less popular section of the trails, with Karina’s father among the first to find the body.
“The running path is alongside a secluded, overgrown marsh at the edge of Jamaica Bay. It is part of a much longer network of paths ringing the bay that get a lot of use from cyclists and runners. The section where Vetrano’s body was found is often bypassed by people using the longer routes.”
Officials noted that Vetrano had marks on her neck and her clothes were in disarray, leading them to believe she may have been sexually assaulted before being killed.
With no suspect identified in Vetrano’s death, police are urging caution for people who live in the area.
“After this, of course, they should be (concerned),” noted NYPD Police Chief Robert Boyd. “But there hasn’t been, at any time recently, any stranger rapes at all.”
Neighbors said the killing left them worried, especially in an area not known for being high in crime.
“I feel bad for the parents. She went jogging inside the trail and she never returned home,” said a man who lives up the block from where Vetrano’s body was found. “Something like this, it’s so close by. It’s really a shock.”
Others noted that the area was potentially dangerous for joggers, with secluded areas not far from the trail.
“If the weeds were not that tall, we would of seen the girl jogging on the path… You can grab that girl, and we wouldn’t know it…I hear there’s a couple of shanty houses out there,” a neighbor told the New York Daily News.
Other neighbors told the New York Daily News that vagrants live in some of the grassy areas just beyond the trails, increasing the potential for attacks.
“I hear there’s a couple of shanty houses out there,” one neighbor said.
Boyce said that Vetrano had been exchanging text messages with a friend before she disappeared. NBC New York reported that the friend is cooperating with police and does not appear to be a suspect.
Vetrano’s Instagram page showed an active young woman who loved to travel and exercise.
Vetrano had earned a master’s degree from St. John’s University in 2015 and was working at Vetro Lounge in Howard Beach. The business had planned to hold a candlelight vigil in her memory.
Vetrano’s family has not commented on her death, and police have not released more details on how she might have been killed.
The exact cause of death for Karina Vetrano is also not yet known. Officials said an autopsy was scheduled to be conducted on Wednesday.
[Image via Instagram]