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RAIL ANNOYING

QC02092017

8 THE QUEENS COURIER •

8 THE QUEENS COURIER • FEBRUARY 9, 2017 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM JUSTICE FOR KARINA No bail for Brooklyn man cuffed for killing Karina Vetrano BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI smonteverdi@qns.com @smont76 Chanel Lewis (left) is escorted into Central Booking. Photo by Mari Estrella Chanel Lewis, the 20-year-old East Brooklyn resident accused of brutally raping and murdering Howard Beach’s Karina Vetrano last August, is being held without bail on second-degree murder charges, prosecutors announced. Lewis was arraigned on Feb. 5 in Queens Criminal Court and faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, a grand jury may consider additional criminal charges when the case is presented to them. “This is truly a very sad case in which a beautiful and talented young woman senselessly lost her life,” Brown said. “Thanks, however, to the persistence of the hard-working detectives of the NYPD, assisted by members of my staff, the person allegedly responsible for her brutal murder finally has been brought to justice.” The investigation was conducted by the NYPD Queens South Homicide Squad, 106th Precinct Detective Squad, Crime Scene Unit, Forensic Investigation Division and others under the overall supervision of the NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. During a press conference at the 106th Precinct stationhouse in Ozone Park on Sunday morning, Boyce identified the suspect as 20-year-old Chanel Lewis. Lewis was taken into custody at 6 p.m. on Saturday night, Feb. 4. “This is a very good day for justice in New York City,” Boyce said. Police do not believe Lewis knew Vetrano prior to the incident, calling it a “chance encounter.” Detectives were able to identify the suspect after a sixmonth investigation employing over 250 leads from the public, 1,700 investigative reports and DNA testing. Authorities first spoke to Lewis on Thursday, Feb. 2. “It has been reported that we had him for months — we did not,” Boyce said. Vetrano, 30, went out for a run from her 84th Street home at 5 p.m. on Aug. 2, 2016, and never returned home. Her body was recovered hours later in the heavily weeded area off the intersection of 161st Avenue and 78th Street, where authorities discovered she had been raped, beaten and strangled to death. Within the last 10 days, detectives received word of a 911 call which placed Lewis in Howard Beach during May 2016, prior to the incident. From there, detectives developed a profile. Boyce said the suspect had no criminal history, but did have a number of summonses in the Howard Beach area. The discovery led authorities to Lewis’ home, where he lived with his mother, and they placed him under arrest, Boyce said. Once in custody, Lewis made “detailed incriminating statements and admissions” that connected him to the crime. Lewis also freely gave a DNA swab, which matched with DNA evidence collected at the crime scene and from Vetrano’s body. “Karina helped us identify this person,” Boyce said. “She had the DNA under her nails; she had touch-DNA on her back; and there was more DNA on her cellphone.” Lewis will likely face charges of murder and sexual assault, District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. Boyce thanked the NYPD detectives and the 106th Precinct for their hard work and members of the public for their tips throughout the investigation. He also offered a word of gratitude to the community shaken by the tragedy for their continuous support. “We’d like to personally thank the community of Howard Beach, Queens, who have been nothing but supportive of us in our efforts,” he said. “We will never forget that.” Anger & relief following Vetrano murder arrest BY ROBERT POZARYCKI rpozarycki@qns.com @robbpoz The first time Cathie Vetrano got a glimpse of her daughter’s alleged killer was in a Kew Gardens courtroom on the night of Feb. 5, and she made it clear to everyone what she thought of him. “He’s a demon! He’s a demon, he can burn in hell,” Cathie Vetrano was quoted on WNBC-TV as saying of Chanel Lewis, the 20-year-old Brooklyn man arraigned on Feb. 5 for fatally strangling 30-year-old Karina Vetrano inside of Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach on Aug. 2, 2016. For many, the visceral reaction signified the anguish the Vetrano family has felt as police worked the last six months in a desperate search to find Karina Vetrano’s killer. Along with anger, there was also a sense of relief and closure now that a suspect is in custody. “I am not going to say it’s good, but we can move forward now. We are in a place we were never at, we know who did this,” added Phil Vetrano, Karina’s father, in a WNBC-TV interview. Lewis’ arrest came just two days after the Vetrano family and local lawmakers gathered near the crime scene to call for expanded DNA testing in the hope that it could be used to solve the case. Several elected officials representing the area stated they, too, felt a great sense of relief. “With the arrest of Chanel Lewis, a suspect in custody in connection with the gruesome murder of Karina Vetrano, hopefully the Vetrano family can begin to have closure and the entire community can breath a sigh of relief,” Councilman Eric Ulrich said. “I commend the NYPD officers who worked the case and the office of the Queens District Attorney for their tireless efforts identifying and arresting this individual. Justice will be served.” State Senator Joe Addabbo also thanked the law enforcement community for their work to crack the case. “I am hopeful that with this arrest, the Howard Beach community’s six-monthlong nightmare is over, and for the Vetrano family, who I will keep in my prayers, a certain degree of closure,” Addabbo added. In a post on her Facebook page, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, also commended the NYPD for its work, as well as Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown’s team and the Howard Beach community “for staying strong.” “Justice is hard, [but] justice will always prevail!” she added. Photo: Anthony Giudice/QNS One of many posters in the Howard Beach area that asked for the public’s help in finding the person who killed Karina Vetrano. LOVE YOUR EYES COME IN AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OUR SPECIALS 2/23/17 2/23/17 2/23/17 2/23/17 2/23/17

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