Where the Karina Vetrano case stands now


More than a month ago, Karina Vetrano went for a run near her Howard Beach home. Her body was found a few hours later in a marshy area, strangled. Police said she had been sexually assaulted.

In the days and weeks that followed, the community and Vetrano’s family were left reeling, police have received dozens of tips and the reward money raised has topped $275,000.

But even as the tips roll in, police still haven’t arrested a suspect.

Here is a rundown of where the case currently stands:

The investigation

Vetrano, 30, went for a jog about 5 p.m. on Aug. 2 — a fairly common activity for her, police have said. During her run, investigators said Vetrano had been texting her best friend and that the phone was swabbed for DNA.

When she didn’t return home that night, her family started getting worried. They began to search for her after she didn’t return phone calls or texts, and discovered her body about four hours later.

She was found face down in a marshy area, about 15 feet from a trail near 161st Avenue and 78th Street in Spring Creek Park.

In the days following, police recovered a DNA sample from Vetrano’s neck, under her fingernails and on her cellphone, but were unable to match it to any known individual.

Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce has said police spoke to several people involved in her personal life, including an ex-boyfriend, who is not a suspect. Investigators also reviewed surveillance video in the area, but “haven’t found any video evidence at all to show anybody lingering.”

Police shifted their investigation toward Brooklyn in late August to determine if the attacker could have escaped the park westbound along the Belt Parkway.

On Aug. 18, Vetrano’s father said police were close to catching the killer, appealed to the family of that suspect and urged them to take the reward money raised, according to multiple media reports. But Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said that wasn’t true, and reiterated his appeal to any members of the public for help closing the case.

On Aug. 31, police released a sketch of a possible witness to the murder. Boyce said the individual is not considered a suspect, but hoped he may have more information about the incident. The sketch spurred more tips, but police still do not have a suspect.

On Sept. 12, “Crime Watch Daily With Chris Hansen,” published video surveillance that shows Vetrano running on a street adjacent to the park, but Boyce said the video does not provide any clues about who killed her.

“We’re looking for a break,” Boyce said in an interview with “Crime Watch Daily.” “We need a break in the case.”

On Sept. 21, Boyce said he's optimistic that investigators will find Vetrano's killer.

"I think we will make an arrest in the case,” he said. 

Police have received more than 170 calls in the case, and of those, Boyce said 12 tips remain open for investigation. 

On Sept. 27, Michael Fox, 47, was taken into custody after he was found naked and ranting in the same marshy park where Vetrano was killed. Fox was apparently agitated and incoherent, yelling that “the father did it... I have nothing to do with it,” according to a police source.

Fox's DNA, however, did not match the samples found on Vetrano's body and belongings, police said in early October.

The reward money

Days after Vetrano was found dead, the NYPD increased its reward offered to $25,000. On Aug. 23, the city’s reward was raised again to $35,000, which includes $10,000 from the mayor’s office. 

Vetrano’s family, including her parents Cathy and Phil Vetrano, have gone one step further and created a GoFundMe Web page, quickly generating contributions.

Just one day after the page was created on Aug. 9, it had surpassed it’s goal of $100,000. And by Oct. 12, the fund had raised more than $283,000 and been shared over 15,000 times on social media.

As of Aug. 23, the family’s reward — originally set at $100,000 — was increased to $200,000. Her family has said on the fundraising page that the extra money raised will be donated to causes like “keeping areas like the one where she died safe,” plus memorials, scholarships, runs, animal shelters and more.

“These funds are the only thing that we feel we can do to encourage anyone with information to come forward with something that will  to an arrest,” according to the GoFundMe page. “We hope and pray that you will read this and recognize that an event like this is universal. It could happen to your daughter, your sister, your mother.”

The community

On Aug. 16, Vetrano’s friends and family gathered to retrace her steps, in what her father, Phil Vetrano, called on the GoFundMe page “the train of tears.” He said it was the first of many events to honor her life.

“2 weeks ago today started out like any other day. I love you daddy , c u later. You 2 baby have a great day at work,” he wrote. “A few short hrs later my life would forever change.”

Many in the close-knit Howard Beach community knew Vetrano or her parents, and several said her father — a retired firefighter who now does contracting work — had even done work on their homes.

The night after her murder, dozens gathered in the parking lot of the bar where she worked to light candles in her honor.

On Aug. 24, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s office paid for eight surveillance cameras to be put up around the perimeter of the park where Vetrano’s body was found. The NYPD will operate the actual cameras.

But cameras could not be put up inside the park, because it is on federal land, a spokeswoman for Katz’s office said.

(With Newsday)

 

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