Parents of NYC Runner Found Strangled in Park Make Unusual Offer to Killer

What to Know

  • Karina Vetrano's body was found face-down in a marsh hours after she was reported missing Aug. 2
  • Police say she had been beaten and sexually assaulted
  • Authorities are hoping a partial DNA sample will generate leads in the case

More than 1,000 people turned out for a memorial walk at the Queens park where a woman was found dead after leaving for a run earlier this month, and the victim's parents urged the killer to turn himself in. 

"We will get you. It's just a matter of time," said Cathy Vetrano, mother of Karina Vetrano. 

The memorial walk for Karina Vetrano comes two weeks to the day after searchers, led by her father, found the woman's body in the marshy overgrowth of the Gateway National Recreation Area near Jamaica Bay. The NYPD still has no solid leads in the sexual assault and strangling of the 30-year-old.

Cathy Vetrano led the pack during the walk. She says the fact that so many people showed up is "evidence to everyone the power that my daughter has." 

Karina Vetrano's parents have made it their mission to keep public attention on the case, hoping someone can give them their answers. Father Phil Vetrano even offered his daughter's killer a choice in directing the reward money that's been raised privately so far.

"Turn yourself in. I will make sure that reward money goes to the person of your choice. The sister, your mother, your brother. It's a life-changer," he said. "You will be caught, so take advantage of that." 

Cathy Vetrano said that anyone who knows who killed her daughter is just as guilty.

"Don't protect him. He's of no use to anyone. He's a weak, evil piece of s---," she said.

Family friend Dorothy McClusky said that Tuesday night's walk was to pay tribute to Vetrano and to show that people in the area "should be able to go out and take a run, a jog or a walk and come back and say hello to our loved ones."

Community leaders have called on the National Park Service to improve safety measures and cut the overgrown weeds at the sprawling national park in southwest Queens.

Vetrano was an avid runner who exercised often in the park with her father. But her father didn't accompany her on a run Aug. 2 because of an injury and later reported her missing. He was also among the search crews that found Vetrano's body later that day.

The walk comes less than a week after the family started a GoFundMe fundraiser to gather money for a reward leading to an arrest in the case. The family's initial goal was $100,000; as of Tuesday evening, contributors pledged more than $245,000. The NYPD is separately offering $25,000 for information leading to an arrest. 

There should be more federal parks police at the park for Tuesday's walk, and there is a $69 million plan that would include trimming the tall weeds around the park's paths in the next several years.

McClusky, however, said more needs to be done now.

"You can't just be in any other national park without there being a gatekeeper, without some kind of cameras and better lighting," she said. "These are all the things that we need in the national park."

Karina Vetrano's death has similarities to the killing of Vanessa Marcotte, a New York City Google employee who was found dead after leaving for a run at her mother's house in Princeton, Massachusetts, over the weekend. Her burned and naked body was found in the woods about a half-mile from the home and she appeared to be the victim of a homicide.

No arrests have been made in that case either, and police have said that there is nothing to indicate the two killings are connected. Phil Vetrano, likewise, has said the deaths were "totally unrelated."

Anyone with information about Vetrano's death should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Contact Us