Slain jogger Karina Vetrano’s funeral was marked by heartfelt speeches from people who admired her specifically her parents. Her mother, Cathy, read a poem that she penned in 2003 before her daughter left for a school trip.
“So fragile, my girl. A tiger, she rages, she roars in this world. 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,” read a part of the poem.
When she finished, the audience applauded. She asked people not to clap for her but for her “baby.” Apart from having to deal with the loss of Karina, neighbors claim that Cathy is also battling with cancer.
The 30-year-old speech pathologist and fitness fanatic was found dead in a weeded part of the neighborhood’s Howard Beach area. She was found around 10:30 p.m. with her sports pants pulled down to her knees.
The cause of Karina’s death has not been determined, but strangling appeared to be the most evident reason. According to New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, it appeared that the victim “put up a ferocious fight right to the end.”
The victim left their home at around 5 p.m. for her daily jog. While her father typically accompanied her, he was forced to stay at home because of his injury. When Karina didn’t return on time, her father asked for help.
He helped the authorities and eventually found Karina with “her face down in the ground.” She was 15 feet away from the usual running path. Police said she had scrapes and bruises on her legs. She also had her teeth broken.
The authorities are currently scouring the area’s weeds and marshland for other clues. Clad in special Tyvek suits, officers are on the lookout for anything unusual that could lead them to Karina’s killer. Boyce told CBS News that they’re planning to clean up the area.
“We plan to chop down just about every weed in that location till we’re satisfied that we’ve got all the evidence. This is a remote area. A young lady was running — still daylight — so hoping somebody saw something going into the park.”
They previously used an FBI drone to inspect the area. A reward of $10,000 is currently offered to anyone who can provide information about the attack.
The victim earned her master’s degree from St. John’s University in May 2015. She also worked as a caterer at the local Vetro Lounge.
Friends described her as a social butterfly who loved to travel. She had more than 11,000 followers on Instagram, and also kept a blog that displayed her talent for writing. In 2013, one of her pieces was translated into a short film.
Karina’s father, Philip, likened his daughter to a shooting star that “burns out at its greatest point.” The two shared a special bond with Karina calling him as her “best friend.” Philip was a retired firefighter.
Neighbors have placed white ribbons outside their houses to show their support for Karina. However, many social media users have been criticized for blaming the victim for her fate. Some suggested that her “tight clothing” lured her attacker, while others thought that it was unsafe at the first place to run alone.
News of runners being assaulted is sadly not peculiar. Runner Sheri Ball-Garcia shared her story to Women’s Running. Her skull had 13 fractures while her nose had seven. Doctors said that she would have died if her head suffered two more blows. Even if the attack took place in 1992, she claimed she still suffered from its psychological effects.
The same website offers various tips on how to run safely from having a fitness buddy to changing one’s trail regularly.
[Image via New York City Police Department]