NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A wake was held Friday for a woman who was killed in Queens while jogging, as police continued to search for any clues that could lead them to a suspect.
Even after the six-hour wake came to a close, friends and relatives were no closer to knowing anything about whatever monster killed Karina Vetrano.
Investigators were once again back on the scene Friday at 161st Avenue and 79th Street in Howard Beach searching for evidence in Vetrano’s death.
From an old-fashioned bloodhound to a high-tech Leica scanner that maps the crime scene in 3D, and from searchers on foot to an FBI drone in the air, the NYPD was using every tool in its arsenal to track down Vetrano’s killer, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
Acres of tall grass and weeds were cut down during the search for evidence amid the marshy federal park land where Vetrano’s body was found.
“We’re all frightened now because we don’t know what to expect,” one resident told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes. “We don’t feel safe in our own neighborhood anymore.”
CBS2 has learned the victim’s missing sneaker was found about 100 feet from her body. Her missing headphones were also found.
A police source said all Vetrano’s belongings are now accounted for. That points to a less sophisticated killer who did not take a trophy from the scene, as killers sometimes do.
But police said they are desperate for tips from the public. They say they’ve only received three calls to their tip line, none of which have provided much information.
“We believe there’s a severe community threat, as you know,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said on Thursday. “Right now, we think it’s random, so we don’t think it’s anybody in her life that’s created this.”
Investigators have been conducting a methodical grid search of the weeds and marshland where Vetrano’s body was found Tuesday night.
Officers, going out in special white Tyvek suits, were searching in 300-foot increments for anything unusual they can test that could lead to her killer.
Meanwhile, detectives continued to take statements from residents, and the posters offering a reward were joined by white ribbons.
A social media campaign urged Howard Beach to show its concern for the Vetrano family.
The goal was to show “that we’re all thinking of them; praying for them,” said Lauren Malinconico of Howard Beach.
Malinconico went to school with the victim’s older sister, Tana. The Vetranos lived a few doors down on 92nd Street before moving a few blocks away in 2010.
“I’ll just always remember her as a little girl, and playing with her,” Malinconico said. “She was a beautiful, beautiful person.”
Other neighbors shared the sentiment.
“She was such a cute kid,” said Francine White of Howard Beach. “At the time, my mother was alive, and she would come over here and keep my mother company, and my mother would give her candy.”
“She was a beautiful girl,” said Doris Brown of Howard Beach. “You see them grow up, and all of a sudden – such a terrible thing. I just cry. It makes me cry all the time.”
An avid runner, Vetrano left her home around 5 p.m. Tuesday for a jog in the Spring Creek federal park land near the Belt Parkway.
Police said she usually went with her father, but this time, an injury kept him home. He got concerned when she didn’t answer his calls.
“At some point after that, her father began to get worried, where she was, she didn’t return home,” Boyce said Wednesday. “He called a police chief who lives nearby who then called 911.”
Vetrano’s father helped police search Tuesday night and pings from her cell phone led them to a marshy area about 15 feet away from the running path.
“The father then went into the woods and then found the body with our detectives right after him,” Boyce said. “We found her face down in the ground.”
Police said Vetrano was strangled and possibly sexually assaulted. She was face down with her teeth broken, scrapes on her legs and her sports bra and shorts pulled down, sources said.
Police sources also said one of her hands was clutching grass, indicating she may have been dragged. Police said she was found 15 feet off the path.
“This woman put up a ferocious fight right to the end,” Boyce said.
Investigators on Friday were questioning local sex offenders and other parolees with violent histories who may have seen the thick marsh as a prime location for murder, Grymes reported.
Police even went through six months’ worth of summonses given to people in the park for trespassing and vagrancy.
Meanwhile, Vetrano’s wake began at 3 p.m. and was to continue until 9 p.m. Friday in Ozone Park. Funeral services for Vetrano will be held at noon Saturday at St. Helen Church on 83rd Street in Queens.
With heartbroken hugs, friends and relatives of the Vetrano family embraced one another outside the funeral home, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported. They were trying to come up with the right words to comfort Vetrano’s parents.
“I said to the father, ‘I don’t know what to say,’” said JoAnne Rosina. “For the first time in my life, I have nothing to say.”
“All you could say is how sorry I am. You can’t say more than that right now,” said Marge Rosina.
Marge Rosina spoke with Karina Vetrano’s father, Phil inside the wake and said he was holding up. But JoAnne, her daughter, said Karina’s mother was too devastated to come, WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini reported.
“She really doesn’t want to see anybody at this point which is understandable.”
Many Howard Beach residents talked before the wake about how Vetrano’s death rocked the tight-knit community.
“It’s terrible. It’s disgusting,” resident Robert Kerr said. “I feel so bad for the family. They’ve got homeless people living in the weeds. They got vagrants that just wander around doing nothing.”
“It’s absolutely horrific what happened,” another resident said. “They’re a wonderful, beautiful family. The father is a great guy. The mother is a wonderful woman. Her children, her two girls, it’s not to be believed.”
Vetrano worked at a local catering hall and as a speech pathologist, earning a master’s degree from Saint John’s University last May. Friends said she was widely traveled and well-educated.
A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782), visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.