The NYPD released on Wednesday morning a sketch of an individual sought for questioning in connection with the murder of Howard Beach resident Karina Vetrano.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce held up the sketch at a press conference in Brooklyn and pointed out that the mystery man was not a suspect. According to Boyce, a utility worker had spotted the man in the area near Spring Creek Park where the 30-year-old Vetrano was last seen alive on the afternoon of Aug. 2.
It is believed that this man may have seen the suspect(s) responsible for raping and fatally strangling Vetrano, whose body was found in the park close to the intersection of 161st Avenue and 78th Street in Howard Beach.
“We have to speak to this person,” Boyce said, as quoted in a WNBC-TV report. “That’s the only reason we’re putting this out.”
On Tuesday, police announced it had been able to create a DNA profile of Vetrano’s unidentified killer from genetic material recovered from the crime scene. Boyce indicated that this profile did not match any others currently listed in the state or national DNA criminal databanks.
Detectives had also ruled out a male runner known to frequent the same area where Vetrano jogged whom the victim’s father, Phil Vetrano, identified as a possible suspect in an interview on Monday with radio host Curtis Sliwa of WABC-AM. Following the radio interview, the runner went to police, submitted to questioning and said he had stopped running in the area due to a bad knee.
Friday, Sept. 2, will mark the one-month anniversary of Karina Vetrano’s murder, a crime that shook the entire community. She left her 84th Street home at about 5 p.m. on Aug. 2 to go for a run, but never returned. Her father reported her missing, and hours later, Karina’s body was discovered during a search of the park.
Hoping to instill a greater sense of security for residents, the NYPD has installed video cameras near the park that capture activities on the street.
Howard Beach residents, and others across the world moved by the tragedy, contributed to an online campaign that raised more than $269,000 for a reward to the tipster who helps police arrest the murder suspect. An additional reward of $35,000 is being offered by the NYPD and other organizations affiliated with the city.
Anyone with information regarding the mystery man’s whereabouts or the Karina Vetrano murder 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.