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DNA breakthrough leads to arrest in murder of Queens jogger Karina Vetrano

February 5, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
DNA breakthrough leads to arrest in murder of Queens jogger Karina Vetrano

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Person in custody for murder of Queens jogger Karina Vetrano

NYPD Investigators are interrogating a man  in custody who is suspected in the murder of slain Queens jogger Karina Vetrano.

Police sources told the New York Daily News they were interviewing a suspect, six months after the 30-year-old was brutally beaten, raped and strangled to death.

Vetrano’s father discovered her body in Spring Creek Park near her residence in Howard Beach, New York, at 9 pm on August 2nd. Authorities have recovered DNA from the victim’s remains, but the DNA didn’t match any convicted criminal in New York or around the U.S.

Police had been watching the suspect, a man in his twenties from Brooklyn after an off-duty police officer noticed him acting suspiciously in Howard Beach.

Karina Vetrano, 30, pictured with her father, was raped and strangled as she ran through Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach on Aug. 2.

Officers stopped the suspect but found no substantial reason to arrest him. Earlier this week, however, they approached him and asked for a DNA sample, which he consented to give.

The suspect has no prior criminal history, indicating that his DNA profile was not part of law enforcement systems. Phil Vetrano, the victim’s father, confirmed to Pix11 that the NYPD had informed him that a suspect had been taken into custody.

CBS New York reported that the suspect was brought in for questioning at approximately 6 pm Saturday evening. However, no charges have been filed.

Vetrano’s family has pushed for familial DNA testing, which would allow them to find a suspect’s relative. Authorities didn’t have to use the technique after all since the suspect agreed to prove a DNA sample.

“My baby girl Karina went into these weeds and never came out,” Phil said during a press conference on Thursday.

“The scum that murdered Karina is still at-large,” he added.

Vetrano was found dead in the marshes near 161st Ave. and 78th St. in Howard Beach. (MARCUS SANTOS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

The father of the slain Queens jogger said he had a “bad feeling” just about a half hour after his daughter left for her run.

Phil was supposed to go jogging with his daughter but couldn’t because he had sustained a back injury. He urged her not to run in the park by herself but couldn’t stop her from leaving.

However, 25 minutes after she left, he had an instinctive feeling that something was wrong and called the police.

His daughter was last seen on surveillance video at approximately 5:45 pm. Phil located her body in marshland at the park just a little more three hours later.

The victim was reportedly still alive when her father called a police chief he knew to raise his concerns. She was seen on surveillance footage at 5:46 pm. Authorities said it is likely that those were some of her final moments.

Vetrano was seen on surveillance footage jogging towards the park at 5.46pm, moments before her death

Phil discovered his daughter’s lifeless body after a desperate search with investigators that evening.

They found her body by tracking her phone which lay abandoned on the ground nearby.

Forensic analysts found traces of DNA in Vetrano’s fingernails, on her neck, and her phone.

They believe that the DNA belongs to her killer but have not been able to find a match on criminal databases. Familial testing examines the crime scene DNA with others on file that may be a close enough match with relatives.

It has led to the arrests and convictions of other dangerous criminals but is not standard in New York. Vetrano’s killing was just five days before that of a runner in Princeton, Massachusetts, who was taken while jogging near her mother’s home.

Vanessa Marcotte, 27, was found murdered in bushes after she was sexually assaulted, strangled, and set on fire.

DNA at the scene was located but has not been matched to anyone already in police databases.

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