5 years ago on August 2nd, 2016
Karina Vetrano is attacked and murdered while jogging in Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach, Queens
The case was solved six months later after a suspicious person was tracked down and matched to DNA found at the scene. The killer claimed that the attack was impulsive — he had been known to prowl around the area and people who knew him described him as emotionally unstable.
After an initial mistrial, a second jury in April 2019 sentenced the killer, Chanel Lewis, to life in prison without parole.
Although the case was solved via traditional police methods, the Vetranos became advocates for using familial DNA to locate suspects, which can identify family members of a suspect even if the suspect's DNA is not on file, as was the case in Karina's murder.
Karina was 30 years old and had received her master's degree from St. John's University. She worked as a speech pathologist helping autistic children learn to communicate. She loved to eat sesame seed bagels for breakfast and her favorite movie was "The Wizard of Oz".
Philip Vetrano now maintains a hidden garden in remembrance of his daughter.