Fund-raising pages for Vetrano suspect shut down

By Patrick Donachie

An online fund-raising page confirmed it had shut down a page raising money to assist the man charged with killing Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano last summer.

Chanel Lewis, 20, was arrested earlier this month in the murder of Vetrano, who was strangled to death in Howard Beach’s Spring Creek Park Aug. 2. A six-month investigation eventually focused on Lewis, who lived in East New York.

A spokesman for GoFundMe, a website that hosts fund-raising drives set up by individuals to gather money for specific causes, said the campaign supporting Lewis violated the site’s “Terms of Service,” which disallows fund-raising for the defense or support of individuals alleged to be involved in criminal activity. The spokesman said the money had been refunded.

Police said a DNA sample Lewis voluntarily offered matched DNA evidence recovered at the scene of the crime and that he had made several incriminating statements linking him to the murder.

The New York Post reported that the GoFundMe page created to raise money for Lewis and his family had raised $800, while a page on online fund-raising site Fundly had raised $1,700. Both pages were shut down, which angered supporters of Lewis’ family.

“We believe (the sites) are discriminating against Chanel. Chanel has not been indicted,” activist Chris Banks told the Post.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.