Searching for the attacker of Karina Vetrano, the 30-year-old who was murdered while out for her evening jog, proved to be challenging when DNA samples recovered from her nails, neck, and phone did not match anyone in the DNA database of convicted criminals.
The Vetrano family even suggested matching the recovered genetic material with several families hoping that the suspect could be tracked. However, Lt. John Russo from the Chief of Detectives office, who also resides in Howard Beach, then remembered seeing a man lurking around parked vehicles in the area three months before Karina’s murder. Another resident likewise happened to call 911 for seeing the same man but that time, he was holding a crowbar.
It occurred to the detective that they should question the man and his suspicious behavior. When the cops approached him for questioning, he voluntarily submitted his DNA sample. It was a match to the sample found in the victim’s body.
It is believed that Chanel Lewis wasn’t stalking Karina on the day of her death. A New York Daily News insider claims that the man hated women which might have prompted him to rape and strangle the jogger.
“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.”
Detectives working on the case encountered a tough time because of the attack’s randomness. Karina managed to scratch her attacker and capture some of his DNA under her fingernails, and on her neck and mobile phone. However, the detectives found no record at that time. When they finally did, the source said that Chanel provided incriminating details of the crime.
“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. There wasn’t any conversation. It was a chance encounter. There was no reason to believe he was stalking her. He just happened to come up on her.”
Legal Aid Society Chief Defender Tina Luongo previously reminded the public via ABC not to immediately cast judgment because Chanel is “entitled to fairness and due process.”
Karina was attacked on Aug. 2 near her Howard Beach residence. It was her routine to have an evening run with her father, but that night, he had to stay at home to recover from an injury. When she didn’t come home hours later, Phil Vetrano enlisted the help of the authorities to form a search party. He then found Karina’s lifeless body in the weeded areas.
Chanel’s family find it difficult to accept that he is capable of killing someone. His father told the Daily News that “he’s a humble kid” who is “not the person for that.” The retired teacher further said that his son excelled in school and wanted to have a job in the social services.
The suspect was charged on Sunday with second-degree murder. Almost 20 members of Karina’s family gathered in the courtroom. An official told Eyewitness News that as per Chanel’s videotaped confessions, he was mad about something at home and opted to leave. He was wandering around Spring Creek Park when he saw the jogger and just “lost it.”
Despite the heartbreaking fate of Karina, her parents are asking people for suggestions on what to do with the money that they have gathered from her memorial fund. The family plans to donate the $288,606 amassed by her GoFundMe page in an aspiration to “make this world a better place.”
Some of the suggestions include donations to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) or the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as well as scholarship grants to her alma mater, Archbishop Molloy High School.
[Featured Image by Vetrano Family/New York City Police Department]