2017-04-26 / Front Page

Brooklyn Man Indicted In Jogger Murder

By Liz Goff
The man arrested in the murder of Queens jogger Karina Vetrano was arraigned last week on a 13-count indictment charging him with murder and sexual abuse in the brutal strangulation death of the 30-year-old Howard Beach woman.

The indictment charges Chanel Lewis, 20, with four counts of first-degree murder, five counts of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual abuse and two counts of first-degree sexual abuse.

Investigators filed 1,700 reports in the murder of Karina Vetrano, and collected more than 600 DNA samples, but the DNA didn’t match anyone in the city, state or national database of convicted criminals, police said.

Police officials said finding Chanel Lewis, 20, was like “finding a needle in a haystack,” because he had no criminal record. He was never arrested, but had been issued several summonses, since 2013, in an area of the park not far from the crime scene, police said.
The cops distributed a sketch of a person of interest in the case, but it brought no new information, officials explained. “Like a needle in a haystack.”

Detectives tracked Lewis on February 2 to his mother’s East New York home, police officials said. Lewis “opened up very quickly when he was brought in for questioning,” they said. “He gave a very detailed account of what happened in the park that day.”

Lewis gave the detectives a DNA sample that matched the DNA recovered from Vetrano’s body. “Katrina helped us identify her killer,” police officials said. “She had her killer’s DNA under her nails, on her back and on her cell phone. “The big thing is, we got (the DNA) from her, from her person,” officials said.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Vetrano was jogging alone in Spring Creek Park at about 5 p.m. on August 2, 2016, when Lewis attacked and strangled her. Vetrano’s father discovered her body that night in a marshy area of the park, approximately fifteen feet from a trail near 161st Avenue and 78th Street, Brown said.

In a chilling confession read by prosecutors at his arraignment, Lewis said he was angry with someone in his Brooklyn neighborhood on August 2, 2016. Lewis said he beat Vetrano to let his emotions out. “I beat her, broke her teeth and knocked her out,” Lewis said. Lewis said in the confession that when Vetrano fell into a puddle and stopped moving, he dragged her into tall grass and weeds in the area, prosecutors said.

If convicted, Lewis is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Brown expressed his appreciation to the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their assistance in the investigation.

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