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Photo: Anthony Giudice/QNS
Photo: Anthony Giudice/QNS
One of many posters in the Howard Beach area that asked for the public's help in finding the person who killed Karina Vetrano.

The first time Cathie Vetrano got a glimpse of her daughter’s alleged killer was in a Kew Gardens courtroom on Sunday night, and she made it clear to everyone what she thought of him.

“He’s a demon! He’s a demon, he can burn in hell,” Cathie Vetrano was quoted on WNBC-TV as saying of Chanel Lewis, the 20-year-old Brooklyn man arraigned on Feb. 5 for fatally strangling 30-year-old Karina Vetrano inside of Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach on Aug. 2, 2016.

 

For many, the visceral reaction signified the anguish the Vetrano family has felt as police worked the last six months in a desperate search to find Karina Vetrano’s killer. Along with anger, there was also a sense of relief and closure now that a suspect is in custody.

“I am not going to say it’s good, but we can move forward now. We are in a place we were never at, we know who did this,” added Phil Vetrano, Karina’s father, in a WNBC-TV interview.

Lewis’ arrest came just two days after the Vetrano family and local lawmakers gathered near the crime scene to call for expanded DNA testing in the hope that it could be used to solve the case. Several elected officials representing the area stated they, too, felt a great sense of relief.

“With the arrest of Chanel Lewis, a suspect in custody in connection with the gruesome murder of Karina Vetrano, hopefully the Vetrano family can begin to have closure and the entire community can breath a sigh of relief,”  Councilman Eric Ulrich said. “I commend the NYPD officers who worked the case and the office of the Queens District Attorney for their tireless efforts identifying and arresting this individual. Justice will be served.”

State Senator Joe Addabbo also thanked the law enforcement community for their work to crack the case.

“I am hopeful that with this arrest, the Howard Beach community’s six-month-long nightmare is over, and for the Vetrano family, who I will keep in my prayers, a certain degree of closure,” Addabbo added.

In a post on her Facebook page, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, also commended the NYPD for its work, as well as Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown’s team and the Howard Beach community “for staying strong.”

“Justice is hard, [but] justice will always prevail!” she added.

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