Phil Vetrano, father of murdered Queens jogger Karina Vetrano, hoped a new DNA analysis strategy would find his daughter’s killer, but it turned out old fashion police work played a major role in nabbing a suspect. After comparing crime scene DNA to 600 samples, it was an odd encounter between a police lieutenant and a young man in the park where Vetrano, 30, was strangled that led to an arrest.
Accused killer Chanel Lewis is just 20 and his previous crimes include urinating in public, not serious enough to have put his DNA in the national database. But he consented when investigators asked him for a sample last week. They approached him on a hunch from the lieutenant who remembered stopping Lewis months earlier.
Phil Vetrano had been pushing for New York’s crime commission to approve use of the controversial familial DNA strategy, which looks for DNA matches that might be related to the killer. If a family member’s DNA was in the database, which is comprised of convicted felons, then detectives could then target relatives as possible suspects. Civil libertarians argue the approach violates privacy rights.
This Crime Stories episode revisits Nancy Grace’s talk with Karina’s dad.
[Feature Photo: Handout]