What to Know
Karina Vetrano's strangulation death shocked the city; her body was found by her father and police hours after she went missing
Her alma mater, Archbishop Molloy High School, held a fundraiser to establish a scholarship in her name
Chanel Lewis, 20, of East New York, is charged with murder and sexual abuse in her strangulation death
The family of Karina Vetrano gathered for a memorial walk Wednesday evening a year after she was killed while going for a run in her Queens neighborhood of Howard Beach.
Parents Phil and Cathie Vetrano hosted the first anniversary walk dedicated to their daughter in Howard Beach. A memorial service followed at St. Helen's.
Her father reflected on the tight-knit community he says uplifted the family after she died, a killing that changed the Vetrano family forever and rocked the Howard Beach community altogether. That community helped console the heartbroken family Wednesday night.
"There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her, that we're not crying," Jackie Hartstein, Karina's best friend, said. "It never gets easier."
With balloons in their hands and love and empathy in their hearts, the community showed up by the dozens, marching down the same streets Karina ran in the neighborhood where she grew up.
"I'm here because I have to be here, I can't ignore this," Rich Conklin of Howard Beach said. "This is something that has to be dealt with."
Karina was discovered near a path at Spring Creek Park last August. Police say she was strangled, brutally murdered by a man she never met.
Police arrested 20-year-old Chanel Lewis in early February and charged him with murder and sexual abuse. They said evidence included genetic material found under the 30-year-old Vetrano's fingernails and on her phone and neck.
Police officials also said Lewis made detailed, incriminating statements to detectives. According to police sources, Lewis twice confessed on video -- once with the NYPD and the other time during an interview with the Queens district attorney's office.
Lewis' family has insisted he is innocent.
The arrest didn't ease the pain felt by Karina's family walking to remember her.
"We are inconsolable, our family and friends," Cathie Vetrano said. "All of you people who we don't even know you have kept us standing."
Karina's father said Howard Beach is "where everyone knows each other, where everyone knows your name and looks out for each other."
"As you all it's been a year since my baby girl was murdered by that filth, that looser [sic] animal," Phil Vetrano wrote on a fundraiser page for a scholarship in his daughter's name. "But. This post is about giving thanks."
Vetrano's family has been raising money for the Karina Vetrano Memorial Scholarship at Archbishop Molloy High School, from where Vetrano graduated in 2004. So far, nearly $300,000 has been raised.