By Patrick Donachie
Stunned family and community members mourned the murder of a 30-year-old woman at vigil in Howard Beach Wednesday evening. She was killed while in the middle of a jog along the marshes of Spring Creek Park. Police have now offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to her killer.
Karina Vetrano left her home in Howard Beach at about 5 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon for a jog in the vicinity of Gateway National Park. Police responded to a report about two hours later when she had not returned home.
Police searched the area, and found Vetrano in the marshland area near the vicinity of 161st Avenue and 78th Street, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. Her death was later ruled a homicide and police later said there was evidence of strangulation and that they were investigating the possibility she was sexually assaulted.
Vetrano was a 2004 graduate of Archbishop Molloy High School. According to a message on the school’s Facebook page, she was the daughter of Molloy alumni Phil Vetrano, a retired firefighter. The father and daughter often jogged together near the area where Karina Vetrano was found, and he was the one who found her, according to the New York Post. State Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) tweeted his condolences on Wednesday evening.
“My prayers go out to family and friends of young Howard Beach resident murdered last night,” he wrote. “Can’t even imagine pain family is experiencing.”
Hundreds also gathered for an impromptu vigil in the parking lot of Vetro Restaurant and Wine Bar on Wednesday evening. Vetrano worked there as a caterer.
At a press conference on Wednesday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said that the police were raising the reward to $10,000 for any information leading to Vetrano’s killer. He was hoping that someone saw something happening in the park during the attack and said that police were already uncovering forensic evidence.
“We plan to chop down just about every weed in that location until we are satisfied that we have gotten the evidence,” he said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also said it was incumbent upon the public to offer information if it would help in the investigation.
“This is a real tragedy and as a parent my heart goes out to the father,” he said. “All of us have to help this family. Anyone who knows something needs to call it into the police right away.”
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona