NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The family of Queens jogger Karina Vetrano is applauding the New York City Police Department after the arrest of a suspect in connection to their daughter’s murder.
“I’m not gonna say it’s a good day, but we can move forward now,” father Phil Vetrano said. “We are at a place we were never at. We know who did this.”
“We would stop at nothing to find the savage that did this to her. We know who he is. He’s a savage, and I’m glad that he’s off the street so he doesn’t kill anyone else’s daughter,” Cathy Vetrano said. “I would like to thank my community of Howard Beach that has been unbelievably supportive.”
The 30-year-old Vetrano was strangled when she went for a run alone in Spring Creek Park on Aug. 2 of last year. Later that night, her father, Phil, found her battered body in a marsh not far from their Howard Beach home.
Chanel Lewis, 20, of East New York, was taken into custody for police questioning on Saturday, six months and two days after Vetrano’s death. He was charged with murder on Sunday after authorities say DNA evidence linked him to the attack.
“We’ve been in a state of shock for six months,” Cathy Vetrano said. “And we really don’t know what we feel right now.”
“We heard the news…and it hasn’t really even sunk in yet, the magnitude of it,” Vetrano’s father said Sunday. “But now we have, we move on to another phase of this.”
Investigators found DNA on her body, but it did not match anyone in the data banks. Her parents asked the state to allow familial DNA testing, which allows investigators to see if a suspect’s relative is in the DNA system, potentially leading them to the killer.
“The demon will get his justice. We will see to it,” Cathy Vetrano said.
Phil Vetrano said Sunday he will go after establishing a DNA database following the case.
“We are still going to advocate for familial DNA testing,” he said. “We don’t know if this person had relatives that were in jail.”
“The UK has it, why don’t we?” he added later. “So, I have work to do.”
When Lewis was arraigned later Sunday, Cathy Vetrano clearly looked distraught as she sat on the edge of the court looking at the suspect.
As Lewis was left out of the courtroom, Cathy Vetrano said! “Savage murderer! He murdered my daughter – my beautiful, innocent daughter!”
Phil Vetrano says he will be in court “every minute of the day.”