When Katrina Vetrano failed to return home from a run on August 2, 2016, her worried father, Phillip called police, fearing the worst.
The 30-year-old left her home to run the same route she ran everyday near their home in Howard Beach, Queens.
Her father usually ran with her but had stayed home that day due to a sore back. He urged her not to take this route as it cut through a secluded path without him there, but she reassured him she would be fine.
But she was not fine.
During her run she encountered 20-year-old Chanel Lewis who has now been been charged with her brutal murder and sexual assault. However not for Karina's brave fight for life, police may never have caught her attacker.
“Karina helped us identify this person,” New York City’s Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce explained during a press conference.
“She had the DNA under her nails. She had touch DNA on her back and there was more DNA on her cellphone. That’s how we were able to bring this profile up, and that’s how we made the link. This is a very good day for justice in New York City.”
People reports that Ms Vetrano was beaten and sexually assaulted but fought her attacker right until the end, clawing at his skin with her nails and biting him with such force that her teeth cracked.
Tragically it was her own father who eventually discovered his daughter's lifeless body, face down, with her clothes partially removed, in tall grass alongside an emergency trail a way off the running track he had been on so many times before.
Police arrested Lewis this week after his DNA was matched to that found on Ms Vetrano's body.
Chief Robert K. Boyce of the NYPD said that Lewis had also made 'detailed, incriminating statements' when questioned.
According to New York Post sources Lewis told police, “I was angry. I had some issues at home. I just lost it. When I saw her, I just hit her and kept hitting her. I hit her and choked her.”
ABC7 reports that Lewis has filmed two video confessions, indicating he was angry at something at home beofre the incident.
Karina's parents spoke to the press after hearing the news of an arrest. Her mother, Cathie Vetrano, said that the suspect is an 'animal', a 'savage' and a 'demon'.
"Our sorrow is so endlessly painful that hearing the news is not what I expected,” Mrs. Vetrano said. “There’s no happiness.”
Chanel Lewis has no previous criminal record, and is currently being held without bail.