30-year-old Karina Vetrano left her home in Queens at 5 PM on August 3, 2016 to go jogging. She normally went with her dad Philip, a retired FDNY firefighter, but her dad didn’t join her this particular time due to a bad back.
When she didn’t return home by 7 PM and wasn’t answering any of his calls, Philip called a neighborhood friend in the NYPD and then called 911 to report her missing. He took the responding officers to the place where he and Karina typically went jogging in Howard Beach, and they came across her iPhone near a bike path. Philip then found her body, lying face down about 15 feet off the desolate path. She had been raped, beaten and strangled.
One of Karina’s sneakers and one of her ear buds were found about 60 feet from the scene, in opposite directions.
Police said Karina fought her attacker and bit him so hard that she cracked a tooth, but she couldn’t fight him off.
From the New York Daily News:
Police believe an attacker tore at the victim’s clothes during the killing, with the jogger suffering scratches on the lower part of her body and scrapes on both legs. Police sources said there was bruising to her buttocks and the backs of her upper thighs. There were signs of vaginal and anal trauma, the sources said. Her panties were pulled down below her buttocks, the sources said.
Police told reporters they recovered a useful DNA sample from Karina’s body, but that they haven’t been able to find a match yet. They said they have interviewed known sex offenders in the area, and do not believe Karina knew her attacker.
There have been reports that Karina had broken up with a boyfriend two days prior to her murder, but police have reportedly checked his alibi and cleared him.
Karina’s body was found about 14 blocks away from her parents’ home. Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told the NY Daily News that Philip had told Karina to not run down that particular path without him.
Her parents spoke at a press conference and Karina’s mother had some harsh words for her killer, calling him pathetic, puny, and a “weak piece of filth.”
Karina was a writer and had a blog, www.Karinavee.com, although she hadn’t updated it since 2014. She worked as a caterer at Vetro Lounge, and had a master’s degree from St. John’s University.
Karina’s friends told reporters that her two passions were writing and running. She had surgery on her legs when she was young and was told she might never run again – but she did. Her Instagram bio said she was a “thrill seeker” and a “day dreamer.”
Karina’s wake was held on Friday afternoon, with hundreds of people turning out to pay their respects.
– Retired FDNY firefighter finds daughter, 30, strangled in Howard Beach park hours after she went jogging
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– Mourning family attends wake for raped and strangled jogger as police find new clues in the New York park where her body was discovered