A woman who went missing while running on a New York City trail and whose body was found in a grassy inlet off Jamaica Bay hours later may have been strangled, police say.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Wednesday 30-year-old Karina Vetrano, who he described as an active runner, also may have been sexually assaulted. Police said her clothes were in disarray.
Vetrano left her Howard Beach home to run near Gateway National Park Tuesday afternoon. She normally ran with her father at that time, but he didn’t accompany her Tuesday, Boyce said. When Vetrano didn’t return, he called 911 to report her missing and a search was organized.
Hours later, Vetrano’s body was discovered in a marsh near the Belt Parkway bike path. Boyce said pings from her cellphone led cops to the weedy area near 161st Avenue and 78th Street, where Vetrano was found face-down. The woman’s father, a retired firefighter, was among the first to find her body.
The running path is alongside a secluded, overgrown marsh at the edge of Jamaica Bay. It is part of a much longer network of paths ringing the bay that get a lot of use from cyclists and runners. The section where Vetrano’s body was found is often bypassed by people using the longer routes.
The medical examiner is conducting an autopsy Wednesday to confirm how Vetrano died, Boyce said. In the meantime, with no arrests and an investigation in its infancy, he urged area residents and joggers to be cautious.
Boyce said Vetrano had been texting a friend “about normal things” before she vanished from the trail. He said the friend is cooperating with police.
The young woman worked for RV Rooftop at Vetro, which said in an Instagram post it would be closed Wednesday to hold a candlelight vigil in remembrance.
Neighbors were shocked and saddened when they heard about the discovery.
One man said he lives just up the block and has two daughters.
“I feel bad for the parents. She went jogging inside the trail and she never returned home,” he said. “Something like this, it’s so close by. It’s really a shock.”