Police believe the man who confessed to killing Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano last summer may have been motivated in part by racial resentments.
Chanel Lewis, from the predominantly poor and black neighborhood of East New York, reportedly told police officers that he had a problem with Howard Beach — a predominantly white, upper middle-class neighborhood. “I don’t like those people over there,” Lewis told police, according to the New York Post.
Lewis also reportedly refused to speak to the first NYPD officers who tried to interview him, who are white. He was more cooperative when Barry Brown, a black detective who is also known as one of the strongest interrogators on the force, interviewed him: Lewis waived his Miranda rights, and gave two detailed confessions which were both videotaped.
Still, there are no current reports stating that Lewis explicitly cited race as a motivator — though he had reportedly made statements in the past indicating he hated women.
Howard Beach, Queens, was the site of two high-profile racially charged crimes committed by white residents against black men who had come into the community. In 1986, Michael Griffith, who was black, died after he was hit by a car while trying to flee a group of young white men who had attacked him and his companions. In 2005, Nicholas Minucci was found guilty of a hate crime against Glenn Moore after he beat him with a bat while shouting a racial epithet. Moore survived the attack, which broke his skull. The 1986 incident resulted in convictions and sentences for most of the men involved, who are all out of jail now.
While a high school student, Lewis reportedly once told a teacher’s aide that he wanted to “stab all the girls.”
Lewis is in protective custody at the Manhattan Detention Complex.
Nancy Grace spoke with Karina Vetrano’s father on the Crime Stories with Nancy Grace podcast: