The mother of Karina Vetrano, who was raped and murdered in 2016 while jogging in Queens, New York, lashed out at the suspected killer in court, describing him as "a savage murderer."
Cathy Vetrano and her husband, Philip, joined more than a dozen relatives at the Feb. 5 arraignment of 20-year-old Chanel Lewis, who police say has confessed to slaying Karina.
"He f***ing murdered my daughter, my beautiful, innocent daughter," Cathy said in court, according to the New York Daily News. "He's a demon. He should be in hell and burned in hell."
She then turned and spoke to Lewis directly: "Now your nightmare begins."
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Lewis was arrested at his mother's house in Brooklyn on Feb. 4 after police confirmed the DNA found under Karina's fingernails belonged to him, the Daily Mail reports.
While in custody, Lewis reportedly made a "detailed" confession.
At the time of the murder, Lewis was staying with his father. He was reportedly upset that there were too many people in the house and left to go to the park.
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While Lewis does not have a previous criminal record, he had been accused of suspicious behavior on three separate occasions. In May 2016 a Queens resident called 911 to report a man acting suspiciously near Spring Creek Park, where Karina was killed two months later.
"We found a 911 call prior to the homicide of him being in Howard Beach," police said. "We had a member of community call to say he was a suspicious person which we get all the time. From that we had a profile. He does have a number of summonses, he has no criminal record."
Police confronted Lewis at his mother's house on Feb. 2 and asked for a DNA sample, which Lewis provided. It matched the DNA found beneath Karina's fingernails and on her cellphone.
Lewis has since given a detailed account of the crime, according to NYPD Chief Robert Boyce.
"We don’t believe he knew her at all," Boyce said. "It appears to be a chance encounter. I don't think there was any stalking."
Sources reportedly told police that Lewis had a "deep-seated" hostility toward women.
Lewis' father, a retired elementary school principal, said he doesn't believe his son committed the crime.
"Chanel would never have gone to do what they say he has done," he told the New York Post, according to the Daily Mail. "He hasn't had a fight in his 20 years."
He described Lewis as an honor student who planned to get a job as a social worker, and claimed that he had been mugged repeatedly in the past.
Philip Vetrano, who was going to accompany his daughter on her jog but couldn't due to an injury, told the New York Daily News he is still processing the development.
"We’re at a loss for words," he said. "We’d hoped to get to this point one day. We didn’t expect to know when it was going to happen. It just happened very quickly. We can’t even respond to how we feel. We don’t know yet, but the police did an excellent job"
"I'm not going to say it's a good day," he said. "But we can move forward now."