Father and daughter usually ran in the park together
He was searching with police when he found his daughter's body
Karina Vetrano normally went running with her father along a popular jogging and bike path blocks from where she lived in the Howard Beach section of Queens.
But the 30-year-old was running alone Tuesday evening and didn’t come home, New York police said.
Her father, Phil Vetrano, and police found Vetrano’s body Tuesday night in Spring Creek Park. There were signs of strangulation and possible sexual assault, authorities said Wednesday.
Vetrano’s father had asked his daughter not to run the path without him while he was out with a back injury, NYPD Chief Robert Boyce said.
“If you’re a runner, you understand that you run every night as part of your routine, so she went, and she said she’d be alright,” Boyce said.
Vetrano’s father began to worry when his daughter did not return home from her run, and he notified the police.
Phil Vetrano led officers along the pair’s usual route, where police said other joggers often pass and young people sometimes hang out.
Around 9 p.m., searchers found Vetrano’s pinging phone in the brush off the path.
Not long after the cell phone was found, Vetrano’s father, accompanied by detectives, found his daughter’s body near 161st Avenue and 78th Street, police said.
There is no evidence Vetrano knew her attacker, police said.
Vetrano, who had thousands of followers on Instagram, was known for her selfies. She recently traveled to France. After landing safely at New York’s JFK International Airport a few weeks ago, she shared a self-portrait on Instagram from the day before in Nice. She wrote she was “grateful to be home” from the vacation near the time of the Nice terror attack.
Boyce said residents should “of course” be concerned after the attack, but noted there haven’t been any other attacks by strangers in recent years.
“This is an unusual circumstance,” Boyce said.
Police are working with U.S. State Park Police to look into all previous arrests and summonses issued in the area (so far, two have been detected from May), as well as investigating anyone who uses the park and looking at video and forensic evidence.
Archbishop Molloy High School, the Queens Catholic school attended by both Karina and Phil Vetrano, asked its alumni in posts on Facebook and Twitter to “keep Karina and her family and friends in [their] thoughts and prayers at this very difficult moment.”
Vetro Restaurant and Wine Bar, where Vetrano worked, expressed their condolences and announced that the RV Rooftop where she worked will be closed for the week “as a respect to her family and the community.”