Police in New York are on the hunt for the person responsible for the murder and possible sexual assault of a female jogger.
Karina Vetrano’s father made the heartbreaking discovery of his daughter’s body late Tuesday night, several hours after she failed to return from an evening jog, reports The New York Times.
The 30-year-old was an avid runner, clocking five to eight kilometres daily around a park near her Queens home. Her father, Philip Vetrano, normally ran with her, but was forced to stay home with back pain on the night she was killed.
Philip, a retired firefighter, “asked her not to run this path, not without him”, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
But Karina insisted she would be safe.
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Shortly after she was reported missing, police managed to triangulate Karina’s mobile phone signal to the area around her regular running trail. It was there, in long grass beside a quiet emergency access road, that Philip discovered his daughter’s body.
She was found face-down, with her tights and sports bra pulled down, leading police to believe she may have been sexually assaulted.
An autopsy revealed she had died from strangulation.
As police continued their hunt for Karina’s killer, locals held a candlelit vigil for the aspiring writer, laying flowers and cards in her memory.
Karina Vetrano. Image: Instagram.
"She was a very witty girl, she always had a smile on her face," family friend Albert Aldo Puentes told local news outlet DNAinfo. "She was very profound in the way she'd speak — people would pay attention."
The Vetrano family have not spoken publicly, but friends and neighbours have told media that they're "blown away" by news of her death and that her father Philip, in particular, is struggling to cope.
"He's traumatised," a family friend said, according to The New York Post. "This is too much for them."