The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Man arrested for murder of SJU alumna Karina Vetrano

Isabella Bruni, Chief Copy Editor

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Six months after the body of St. John’s alumna, Karina Vetrano, 30, was found in Spring Creek Park, her alleged murderer was arrested.  

According to the Queens Chronicle, Vetrano was sexually assaulted and found strangled to death on Aug. 2, 2016 just 15 feet from the trail she was jogging on in Howard Beach. The man charged with her murder, Chanel Lewis, 20, from East New York, Brooklyn, was arrested on Saturday, Feb. 4. It’s been reported that there is no reason to believe he knew Vetrano.

Chief Robert Boyce said in a statement that Lewis’ DNA matched the DNA found on Vetrano’s cell phone and her body. Lewis did not have a record of violence, but he had two violations from the Parks Department and one violation for urinating in public.

Boyce added, “Karina helped us identify this person,” because his DNA was under her fingernails, and on her phone.

Lewis is expected to be charged with second-degree murder and may face a prison sentence of 25 years to life, according to the Queens Chronicle.

He graduated from Martin De Porres High School in the Rockaways in August of 2015, a school who recognizes that their students “struggle with internal and external factors beyond their control that have contributed to a failure to thrive in school,” according to its website. The executive director of the school said that Lewis had no disciplinary record against him or reason for him to believe he was a threat to other students.

The quickest route for Lewis to get to school from East New York would have taken him through Howard Beach, according to the New York Times.

Following Lewis’ arrest, Vetrano’s father, Philip Vetrano addressed the press outside of the family’s home.

“It’s a good day,” he said, “We can move on now.”

The Torch reported on Vetrano’s death in the fall of 2016. The Howard Beach native attended St. John’s for graduate school, earning her Master’s degree in speech pathology.

A mass in her memory was held by the University last semester.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University
Man arrested for murder of SJU alumna Karina Vetrano