A top NYPD detective is warning city residents of a severe risk to the area after a jogger was sexually assaulted and killed in a seemingly random attack.
Karina Vetrano, a 30-year-old woman of Queens left for her customary afternoon run on Aug. 2, reports WNBC. Her father, retired firefighter Philip Vetrano, typically ran with her, but stayed home due to a back injury. He called police that evening after his daughter did not return.
Vetrano’s father, who accompanied police on the search, was the first to find his daughter’s body, reports the New York Post. Her body was found face down about 20 feet off a dirt path in Spring Creek Park.
Sources say Vetrano’s body revealed signs of sexual assault, as well as external injuries. New York chief of detectives Robert Boyce said police believe the victim “put up a ferocious fight right until the end,” according to WNBC. Examiners determined the cause of death was strangulation.
Boyce said the circumstances of Vetrano’s death were “extraordinarily rare,” but is warning of a “severe community threat” to the Howard Beach, Queens, area.
In the ongoing investigation, police are working with DNA samples collected at the scene. Sources say the investigation into Vetrano’s work and personal lives yielded no specific leads. Local homeless individuals and registered sex offenders are being questioned about the case, a step WNBC describes as routine.
Sources say that police believe the attack was carried out by a stranger, most likely not a resident of the area. Authorities have not made any arrests in connection to the murder.
Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Vetrano’s assailant, but have received only three tips so far, according to Daily Mail.
“We really need the public’s help on this one,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The area where is Vetrano’s body was found is well known among Queens locals, who call the area “the Weeds” or “the Baja,” according to The New York Times. It is secluded and untamed, a known destination for homeless travelers and drinking teenagers. A number of residents told reporters that the area has long been considered a dangerous place to run alone, particularly for women.