They came in amounts large and small — donations of as little as $10 to as much as $1,000 from neighbors, relatives, complete strangers and anonymous donors.
The contributors to the Karina Vetrano Memorial Reward Fund poured out their wallets and their hearts in just 24 hours time, kicking in more than $175,000 in an effort to find the person who viciously raped and murdered the 30-year-old Howard Beach resident on August 2.
Members of the Howard Beach community and the Vetrano family had launched the GoFundMe campaign to supplement the $20,000 reward already offered by the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Vetrano’s killer.
Initially, the Karina Vetrano Memorial Reward Fund set a goal of raising over $100,000, but doubled that figure after receiving an overwhelming response. As of 10:15 a.m. Thursday, August 11, more than 2,500 people had contributed to the online fundraising drive. Many of them left messages of support for the Vetrano family in their time of trial.
“I wish I can give more but like your daughter I’m a cat lover and most of my money goes to their rescue,” wrote Lauren Dauro, who donated $20 to the fund. “My heart is with you — may your beautiful daughter rest in peace in God’s loving hands. My deepest condolences.”
“We hope with all our hearts that the killer is found. Prayers for you and your wife and daughter,” said Ellen Sullivan, who contributed $50.
“I am heart broken though I never met her or the Vetrano family,” wrote donor Eliot Green, who contributed $25. “I see, hear and read about bad s–t happening to people every day, This senseless and brutal act against this bright star of a human being and her family has moved me to donate.”
In a message left on the GoFundMe site, Phil Vetrano — Karina’s father — said that every dollar will bring the community closer to finding the killer and bringing that person to justice.
“These funds are the only thing that we feel we can do to encourage anyone with information to come forward with something that will led to an arrest. 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,” he wrote. “At a time like this we know that our fellow human beings will be happy to join in this quest to bring the only sense of peace possible to a family ripped apart by this horrendous act.”
The case itself is proving difficult to crack. Since last week, detectives from both the NYPD and FBI have combed the marshy area of the Gateway National Recreational Area where Karina Vetrano’s body was found searching for evidence. DNA was found on a sneaker and a set of earphones there, but tests revealed no match to anyone as of yet listed in the state’s DNA databank.
The NYPD received a number of tips through its Crime Stoppers hotline, but police officials said those calls did not provide any substantial leads.
Anyone with information about the Vetrano case that can prove helpful is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.