Since Karina Vetrano was found brutally raped and murdered in a Howard Beach park more than four months ago, police have had multiple leads and tips — but thus far, every path to a potential suspect has led investigators nowhere.
Detectives quickly produced a DNA profile of Vetrano’s killer from genetic evidence found at the crime scene at Spring Creek Park, but the DNA did not match up with anyone listed in the state or national criminal DNA databanks.
A short time later, police also produced a sketch of a possible eyewitness known for loitering near the park who may have seen Vetrano in the last moments of her life, or her killer fleeing the crime scene. That person hasn’t surfaced.
Her parents, Cathy and Phil Vetrano, have made numerous impassioned pleas on local and national television outlets — most recently on nationally syndicated “The Dr. Phil Show” — asking anyone who might know something about their daughter’s murderer to contact police. They helped organize a reward fund in which the public donated more than $250,000 to be provided to the person who comes forward with information leading to the murder suspect’s arrest.
Despite all of these efforts, the whereabouts of Karina Vetrano’s murderer remain unknown. Nonetheless, the NYPD and the FBI aren’t giving up hope that someone out there — perhaps in the neighborhood where Vetrano lived and died — knows something about the case, and will finally come forward to help detectives deliver some justice to her family.
To that end, the NYPD released on Wednesday night an extensive profile of the unidentified person who attacked Vetrano based on the information they’ve obtained in the course of its investigation. They hope the release of these details will ignite the memory of anyone near the park on Aug. 2 who may have seen Vetrano or her murderer, but may not have realized at the time that something was wrong.
According to police, “the person who committed the assault is likely familiar with” Spring Creek Park and “may have spent time there for any of a variety of reasons. Spring Creek Park is a popular destination for “fishermen, dirt bike riders, environmentalists and other outdoor enthusiasts.” The NYPD also noted that it is also “a gathering place for homeless and recreational drug and alcohol users.”
Detectives believe Vetrano’s killer may have been visiting or perhaps living inside of Spring Creek Park for an indeterminate period of time before the attack, “and was likely a familiar face to others who use the park on a regular basis.”
Soon after Vetrano was murdered, police believe her killer “likely stopped visiting or living in the park abruptly” and may have moved to another area of the city, or perhaps out of the city entirely.
“He may have provided a seemingly reasonable excuse for this change in behavior to others,” according to the NYPD report. “He may have even suggested his avoidance of the park was due to the danger there.”
Police also ask anyone who might have been in the area to recall if they saw a man walking through the area appearing “to be disheveled in appearance with possible scratches or cuts to his hands, arms, neck or face.” The man may have given a number of excuses for his appearance.
Detectives also believed the killer may have, in the wake of reports about Vetrano’s murder, changed his appearance or behavior and limited his exposure in public.
“Members of the community are urged to come forward with any information they have, including if they believe they have encountered or know this person,” the NYPD report concluded.
Anyone with information regarding the Vetrano murder or the suspect’s whereabouts 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.