Nearly two months after her murder, police still do not know who killed Karina Vetrano.
The 30-year-old Howard Beach woman was raped and strangled to death on Aug. 2 while on a jog just about a mile from her house in Spring Creek Park. Despite rewards and public pleas from the victim’s family, it’s anyone’s guess as to the identity of her killer.
The NYPD’s Queens South commander, Assistant Chief David Barrere, told attendees at Tuesday’s Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association meeting at St. Helen’s Catholic Academy that they have DNA from a suspect. However, after running the profile through multiple databases — including criminal databases in other cities — there have been no matches. Barrere only stated that they know her killer was a man.
“That’s all I can say at this time,” he said.
Barrere, who was joined at the meeting by the 106th Precinct’s commanding officer, Captain James Fey, thanked the community for their support during the investigation. He said residents and Howard Beach businesses have brought food and water to investigators on the scene since the Aug. 2 murder.
While the search for Vetrano’s killer continues, Howard Beach residents did get good news last month when eight security cameras were installed at the entrances to Spring Creek Park only a few weeks after Vetrano’s murder.
“The cameras are awesome,” Barrere said. He noted that the cameras can record close up and can zoom in as far as half a mile away. The footage is stored for 30 days at Barrere’s office at the 107th Precinct or at 1 Police Plaza. The footage is also stored on the camera for 72 hours.
The cameras were funded by Borough President Melinda Katz, who attended Tuesday’s meeting.
“I wanted to do something,” she said. “Everyone wants to do something to help when tragedies like this happen. Now when you walk into the park and you walk our of the park, you will be on camera.”
Working with Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association President Joann Ariola, Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton, the NYPD and local elected officials, Katz decided to fund security cameras when they were suggested by the community as the biggest immediate need. Katz also noted that the cameras were funded and installed in about a week, which is exceptionally fast.
“Much to our surprise, within days, the cameras were on the poles and they were active and they were recording,” Ariola said.
“We know how the government works; it usually takes a long time,” she sad. “But now that I know how fast it can be done, I asked for even more cameras around the borough.”
Katz said she has been able to get 20 cameras installed around Queens.
To thank the borough president for her funding the cameras, the civic association presented her with an oversized thank you card signed by neighborhood residents.
At the meeting, Fey went through a list of recent crimes in Howard Beach. Crime is down across the precinct, the commanding officer said, and robberies, which he called “bellwether crimes,” were down 22 percent.
In Howard Beach specifically, there were no crimes last month in New Howard Beach; in Old Howard Beach there were five crimes:
- On Sept. 2, there was a robbery at the Howard Beach-JFK Airport subway station which ended in an arrest.
- On Sept. 6, there was a grand larceny on Russell Street.
- On Sept. 7, The Rail, a bar in Coleman Square, was broken into and money was stolen from a game machine.
- On Sept. 16, a 90-year-old woman was robbed of $7,000 from her home by someone she let in her house.
- On Sept. 19, there was a domestic violence incident than ended in an assault arrest.
In Lindenwood, there were 10 crimes, including five stolen rims and tires; two stolen cars; a recidivist who was arrested after a robbery; an assault where a man was beaten by his wife with a cucumber; and a robbery, allegedly committed by the nephew of the victim.
Fey also told the meeting attendees about an incident where two Muslim men were seen driving near Spring Creek Park the same day the suspect in the Chelsea bombing was captured.
Fey also informed the meeting attendees about several teenagers who were arrested near Charles Park over the weekend after they allegedly stole several cellphones from other teenagers who were at the park. He said the suspects were also accused of several other robberies in Ozone Park earlier.