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Parents of murdered Queens jogger meet accused killer.





Parents of murdered Queens jogger meet accused killer. Parents of murdered Queens jogger meet accused killer
  • Cathy Vetrano seethed with anger as she watched Chanel Lewis's arraignment
  • She shouted at the suspect as he was formally charged with killing her daughter
  • Mrs Vetrano was joined by her fire fighter husband Phil and other relatives
  • Lewis, 20, was arrested on Saturday night for Karina Vetrano's August 2 murder
  • NYPD detectives matched his DNA to skin found under the jogger's fingernails
  • Lewis lives at home with his mother, does not work and has no criminal record
  • His father Richard says he is a 'humble kid' who could not have been so violent
  • Lewis is facing one count of second degree murder and will return to court on February 21  

The mother of murdered Queens jogger Karina Vetrano hurled abuse at the man accused of killing her daughter on Sunday as they came face-to-face for the first time. 

Cathy Vetrano was joined by her husband Phil and dozens of relatives and friends to watch Chanel Lewis, 20, be arraigned at a Queens court on Sunday night. 

'Now your nightmare begins,' she screamed as Lewis was formally charged with murdering Karina in Spring Creek Park on August 2.

Mrs Vetrano, who has maintained an active public profile since her daughter's murder, earlier deemed him a 'savage' and a 'demon' who 'must get his justice'.

She and her former fire fighter husband vowed to attend all of Lewis's court appearances after news of his arrest spread on Sunday.

NYPD detectives arrested Lewis, an unemployed 20-year-old, at his mother's house in East New York, Brooklyn, on Saturday after matching his DNA to skin found under Karina's fingernails.

 'Now your nightmare begins': Cathy Vetrano shouted at Chanel Lewis, the 20-year-old accused of murdering her daughter Karina, as he was arraigned at Queens Criminal Court on Sunday 

'Now your nightmare begins': Cathy Vetrano shouted at Chanel Lewis, the 20-year-old accused of murdering her daughter Karina, as he was arraigned at Queens Criminal Court on Sunday 

 Lewis was arrested on Saturday in East New York, Brooklyn, and is facing one count of second degree murder 

Lewis was arrested on Saturday in East New York, Brooklyn, and is facing one count of second degree murder 

 The 20-year-old was held without bond on Sunday night and will reappear in court on February 21 

The 20-year-old was held without bond on Sunday night and will reappear in court on February 21 

They honed in on him after reviewing a 911 call from May last year, two months before the murder, which reported a man acting suspiciously near the park in Howard Beach, Queens.

Since being taken into custody, he has made 'detailed' statements about how he attacked Karina, 30. 

Police sources told New York Daily News their meeting was a chance encounter and that Lewis has a 'deep seated aggression' towards women. 

 Lewis is accused of murdering 30-year-old Karina Vetrano as she jogged near her home in Howard Beach, Queens, on August 2 

Lewis is accused of murdering 30-year-old Karina Vetrano as she jogged near her home in Howard Beach, Queens, on August 2 

He is facing one charge of second degree murder with more likely to be brought as the District Attorney's investigation continues. 

The NYPD scratched around for leads for six months before their first contact with Lewis on Thursday. 

The news that he had been arrested came as a shock to the Vetrano family who said it was 'too early' to say how they felt on Sunday. 

'We hoped to get to this point one day. 

'We didn't know if or when it would happen. We can't even really respond to how we feel, we don't know yet,' Mr Vetrano, who was supposed to have joined his daughter running on the night she died, said.

The couple commended the 'magnificent' NYPD which they said had worked 'tirelessly' to solve their daughter's murder.

Lewis's father, retired elementary school principal Richard Lewis, however said his 'humble' son couldn't have been involved with such a grisly crime.

'Chanel would never have gone to do what they say he has done. He hasn't had a fight in his 20 years,' he told The New York Post.

Mr Lewis rushed to the 107th Precinct in Queens on Sunday where press had gathered after his son's Saturday night arrest.

There, he told proudly how Chanel was an honor roll student at Martin De Porres High School in Far Rockaway, Queens, and said he had been the victim of muggings. 

 'He's a wonderful kid': The suspect's father, retired principal Richard Lewis, was shocked by the charges against him

'He's a wonderful kid': The suspect's father, retired principal Richard Lewis, was shocked by the charges against him

Lewis said that his son was a good student who was planning for a career in social services. 

He said that his son had even received recommendations from his high school principal.  

The suspect's father said while he was sorry for Vetrano's death, he believes his child is innocent.

In a plea to the jogger's parents, he said: 'I'm sorry to hear about [your daughter], but I'm sure that [Chanel] would not be a part of that. 

The Vetrano murder received significant media attention in the days and weeks following the incident, yet Lewis said that he was never familiar with the details of the case until this weekend. 

'I saw it on the television this morning,' Richard Lewis said. 'I've never heard about it. I've never read about it. Nothing at all.'

 Lewis was led out of the 107th precinct on Sunday afternoon after his arrest was announced at a press conference 

Lewis was led out of the 107th precinct on Sunday afternoon after his arrest was announced at a press conference 

 Lewis was reported acting suspiciously at the park in May, two months before Vetrano's death, by one of her neighbors. He is seen above being taken out of the precinct on SundayLewis was reported acting suspiciously at the park in May, two months before Vetrano's death, by one of her neighbors. He is seen above being taken out of the precinct on Sunday 

Lewis was reported acting suspiciously at the park in May, two months before Vetrano's death, by one of her neighbors. He is seen above being taken out of the precinct on Sunday 

 The 20-year-old has no prior criminal record but has three court summonses for acting suspiciously 

The 20-year-old has no prior criminal record but has three court summonses for acting suspiciously 

Police sources gave a different description of the 20-year-old who they said had a 'deep seated' anger towards women. 

'He’s had previous incidents in which he has expressed a hatred for women. He’s thought of hurting women or attacking women. 

'He’s expressed a deep-seated aggression towards women. But it was nothing he’s ever acted on,' one told New York Daily News on Monday. 

 NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said on Sunday (left) that Lewis did not know Vetrano and it was a 'chance encounter'NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said on Sunday (left) that Lewis did not know Vetrano and it was a 'chance encounter' 

NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said on Sunday (left) that Lewis did not know Vetrano and it was a 'chance encounter' 

 Vetrano was seen on surveillance footage jogging towards the park at 5.46pm, moments before her death

Vetrano was seen on surveillance footage jogging towards the park at 5.46pm, moments before her death

 Lewis was arrested at the home he shares with his mother in East New York on Saturday night. It is less than four miles from the park where Vetrano was found 

Lewis was arrested at the home he shares with his mother in East New York on Saturday night. It is less than four miles from the park where Vetrano was found 

 The suspect was reported to police previously for acting suspiciously in a bicycle track in Spring Creek Park, where the 30-year-old was murdered 

The suspect was reported to police previously for acting suspiciously in a bicycle track in Spring Creek Park, where the 30-year-old was murdered 

Lewis has no previous criminal record but has three court summonses for suspicious behavior in a bicycle track at Spring Creek Park. Chief Bryce would not disclose what the previous 'issues' were for. 

In May, a resident in Howard Beach, Queens, called 911 to report him acting suspiciously near Spring Creek Park where the jogger died.

Detectives investigating Vetrano's death found a record of the call as they purged through hundreds of reports and similar phone-ins while trying to make headway in the case.

They were able to identify Lewis from the caller's description and track him to his mother's home in East New York with the help of a Howard Beach lieutenant, Boyce said.

'We found a 911 call prior to the homicide of him being in Howard Beach.

'We had a member of community call to say he was a suspicious person which we get all the time.

'From that we had a profile. He does have a number of summonses, he has no criminal record,' he said.

It's not clear what was done about the call at the time.  

It matched traces of previously unidentified DNA found beneath Vetrano's fingernails, signs she tried to fight him off as he attacked her. 

A hand print left on her back also matched him as did DNA found on her cell phone.  Detectives were still searching his home on Sunday as Chief Boyce spoke.

'Karina helped us identify is person, she had the DNA under her nails, touch DNA on her back and she had DNA on her cell phone.' 

Boyce would not be drawn on details of Lewis's mental state or social status but said he does not work and lives at home with his mother Veta. She has not commented on his arrest.

He is not thought to have ever met Vetrano before the August 2 attack, police said. 

'He gave very detailed, incriminating statements. We don't believe he knew her at all. It appears to be a chance encounter. 

'I don't think there was any stalking,' he said, adding the suspect's had described 'each step of the assault'. 

 Phil Vetrano, Vetrano's father (pictured with her), said he knew something was 'wrong' instinctively just 25 minutes after his daughter left their home to go running on August 2

Phil Vetrano, Vetrano's father (pictured with her), said he knew something was 'wrong' instinctively just 25 minutes after his daughter left their home to go running on August 2

 Karina's  parents Cathy and Phil maintained an active public profile during the investigation 

Karina's  parents Cathy and Phil maintained an active public profile during the investigation 

'It's there where he received those three court summonses for various issues,' he said. 

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Lewis was facing charges for murder and sexual assault. 

 Police issued this sketch after Vetrano's death

Police issued this sketch after Vetrano's death

'We're still doing a lot of the paperwork that needs to be done but we're satisfied we have a solid case that has been put together by everyone involved.' 

They could no confirm whether familial DNA testing, which the Vetrano family had pushed for, played any role in the investigation. 

Phil Vetrano, the jogger's father, was due to go running with her on the night she died but didn't because of an injury. 

He and his wife have maintained an active public profile since their daughter's deaths in order to catch her killer. 

They are still campaigning for familial DNA testing, which examines the DNA of potential suspects' family members to rule them in or out of crimes, to become commonplace. 

It's not clear whether it played a part in Lewis's arrest.  


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