karinavetrano/Instagram(NEW YORK) — A suspect is in custody in the murder of Karina Vetrano, a 30-year-old woman who went out running in the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens, New York, and never returned, police announced Sunday.
Vetrano was strangled on August 2, while jogging alone on a path where she and her father often ran together.
Chanel Lewis, a 20-year-old man who lives with his mother in East New York, Brooklyn, was taken into custody Saturday evening at approximately 6 p.m., the New York Police Department announced.
Later this afternoon, he was formally charged with murder in the 2nd degree.
Lewis, police said, was identified through a number of factors, including DNA evidence taken from Vetrano’s person, a 911 call, and several court summonses that linked him to the area. He has no prior arrest record, police said.
Police said that he was interviewed by detectives and made detailed confessions to the crime.
Early in the investigation, police said that Vetrano had put up a fight against her attacker, and Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce referred to that detail in a press conference this afternoon.
“Karina helped us to identify this suspect,” Boyce said. “Thanks to the DNA we recovered from under her nails.”
Police gave only limited details about the conclusion of their investigation. Boyce corrected what he described as a misconception about it by saying that Lewis had not been in their sights for very long.
He described the case as coming to a head within only the last 10 days, and pointed to a DNA swab as being the key link between Lewis and Vetrano’s body.
He added that he expected Lewis to be arraigned either later today or early tomorrow. It is unclear right now who will be representing the suspect at the arraignment.
Police suggested today that it was unlikely that Lewis knew Vetrano in any personal or social capacity, and believed the violence occurred following a “chance encounter.”
Boyce also said that it was unlikely Lewis was a stalker, as some had speculated earlier in the investigation.
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