Police are investigating the death of a Queens woman who went missing after going for an evening jog near the Belt Parkway in Howard Beach as a homicide.
Around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, police responded to a report of a missing woman, 30-year-old Karina Vetrano, who was last seen leaving for a jog through Howard Beach’s parkland around 5 p.m., police said. After searching the area, authorities found her body in the marshes near 161st Avenue and 78th Street.
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The medical examiner performed an autopsy on Wednesday and said Vetrano had been strangled, ABC7 New York reported. Sources have told the New York Daily News that her pants were pulled down, and officials believe she was sexually assaulted.
"They found her phone over here [on the path]. … If these weeds weren’t this high, we would have seen her," one area resident was quoted by theNew York Post.
Vetrano’s neighbors said that homeless vagrants live in the woods of the marsh, the Daily News added. They also said that Vetrano had been known to go jogging with her father, a retired FDNY firefighter, and that she had recently earned a master’s degree from St. John’s University in 2015.
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton called it a "horrific incident."
"If I understand correctly, during the search for her, when she did not come home, her father actually found her, so my heart goes out to him," he said, ABC7reported.
The investigation remained ongoing, and no arrests have been made, police stated.
A candlelight vigil will be held 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the RV Rooftop at Vetro's, where the victim worked.
Kimberly M. Aquilina contributed to this report.