A mother’s anguish and a desperate search for leads: the latest on the Karina Vetrano murder

Grieving family and friends of Karina Vetrano carry her coffin out of St. Helen's Church in Howard Beach on Saturday.
Photo by Robert Stridiron

Nearly a week has passed since the shocking murder of Howard Beach’s Karina Vetrano, and police are no closer to solving what might be the most infamous Queens homicide in a half-century.

One way or another, the suspect responsible for killing the young woman will be brought to justice, said her mother, Cathy Vetrano, at a press conference on Sunday.

“My daughter was a force to be reckoned with,” an emotional Cathy Vetrano said. She then addressed the anonymous killer: “And I guarantee you, you motherf—er, that you will be reckoning with that force, not only for the rest of your pathetic life, but for the rest of eternity as you f—ing burn in hell.”

“The whole entire world knows what a pathetic, puny, weak piece of filth that you are,” she added. “And soon, I know they’re all going to know your face as well. Soon, they will have a face to the d–kless piece of garbage that you are.”

Over the weekend, Karina Vetrano’s family and friends gathered at St. Helen’s Church in Howard Beach to pay their final respects to the 30-year-old woman who was found dead inside the Gateway National Recreational Area on the night of Aug. 2 after failing to come home from her run that afternoon.

Karina Vetrano (photo via Instagram)

All the while, police continued their exhaustive search in the area of the park where Vetrano was found fatally strangled and sexually assaulted. Detectives from the NYPD and the FBI combed the marshy green space off the intersection of 161st Avenue and 78th Street looking for anything that may help track down Vetrano’s murderer.

Reportedly, one of her running shoes and a set of headphones were recovered and are currently being tested for possible DNA evidence.

Not since the murder of Kitty Genovese in Kew Gardens 52 years ago has a Queens homicide received so much notoriety both locally and around the nation. In that instance, Genovese was stabbed on Austin Street while walking home on the early morning hours of March 13, 1964. The New York Times reported that as many as 37 people in the area witnessed her attack and her pleas for help, but did not come forward in time to save her life.

The Vetrano case is quite the opposite in that the murder occurred in one of the few desolate areas of Queens within walking distance of a residential community. NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said on Thursday that police received only a handful of tips during their investigation, none of them substantive.

The Crime Stoppers hotline quadrupled its reward amount from $2,500 to $10,000 for anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of Vetrano’s killer. Police have posted fliers across Howard Beach and on social media urging anyone with knowledge of the murder to come forward.

Meanwhile, a community meeting will be held at 7 p.m. tonight at St. Helen’s Church among community leaders and elected officials focused on the status of the murder investigation. One topic that may also be raised at the meeting is the security of the park, which residents and a local civic group have complained about for years.

A group of women exercise near the park where Karina Vetrano was murdered last week. (Photo by Robert Stridiron)

Persons with information about Karina Vetrano’s murder that could prove helpful to investigators are urged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), followed by the code TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.

More from Around New York