On a warm August afternoon a year ago, 30-year-old Karina Vetrano went out for a jog alone in Queens, New York, and never returned.
She was found strangled to death later that night by her father, Phil Vetrano, later that night just off the path the two often ran together. Her killing dominated headlines, but it would take until February for police to arrest a suspect.
For her father, the pain is just as raw today as it was when he discovered her body amid the tall weeds that border the trail.
“Life doesn’t change,” Phil Vetrano told ABC News on Tuesday. “The extreme, tremendous loss that we are suffering, we’ll continue to suffer until we die.”
A devastating discovery
On Aug. 2, 2016, Karina Vetrano went for a run in Howard Beach, New York. Phil Vetrano, who usually went with her, had an injury at the time, and that day, she went alone. When she didn’t return, her father called the authorities, and he later found her dead while he was searching with police that night.
The horrific killing was devastating for Phil Vetrano, his wife and their other daughter.
“He didn’t just kill one person that night, he killed four people,” Phil Vetrano said. “Karina died, but we died also. Our lives are over, all of us.”
He added: “Karina was magical. She got a master’s in speech pathology and was teaching speech therapy. She was a consummate writer.
“She lived more in her short 30 years than most people do in 10 lifetimes,” he said. “She went everywhere … nothing stopped her. She had a bucket list at 26 years old and she actually accomplished and did most of those things on the list,” like several trips to Europe, a camel ride by the Great Pyramids and a trip to the Grand Canyon. “She was extraordinary.”
A six-month search for a killer
The young woman’s death made headlines across the country, but months ticked by without an arrest despite the recovery of physical evidence from the crime scene, including DNA. For Phil Vetrano, the wait was torturous, and he made desperate pleas to the public for help solving the case.
Then, in February, after police had received over 250 leads and taken 600 DNA samples, a suspect was finally identified. Chanel Lewis, then 20, was taken into custody, one week after he was first approached by police about Karina Vetrano’s death.
“It just so happened…