NYPD detectives probing the killing of Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano have a new lead in the six-month-old homicide as investigators continue to perform data analysis on arrest records and check cellphone tower activity to get a break in the case, a top official said Wednesday.
“Each day we have a strong lead — we have one right now,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said when asked at a news briefing about the status of the case.
Boyce wouldn’t elaborate on the new information, saying leads continue to come in but at a slower pace since the Aug. 2 slaying of the 30-year-old Vetrano as she jogged in Spring Creek Park. Investigators retrieved DNA samples from her body but have not matched them to any profile in the state database.
Boyce acknowledged that earlier strong leads in the homicide all fizzled out and he cautioned against any optimism that the case would be solved anytime soon.
Boyce reiterated that the department backed a call by politicians, the Vetrano family and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown for state officials to use the emerging DNA analysis method of “familial searching” as a way to develop a new forensic lead in the case. Boyce also said detectives have been looking at all summonses and arrests within the areas of the 106th, 73rd, and 75th Precincts. One focus is arrests that occurred in the area of Erskine Street, in the East New York area of Brooklyn bordering the parkland, he said.
About new leads, Boyce said “they are still coming in . . . I would say a couple of times a week, we have some strong leads.”
Philip and Catherine Vetrano, the parents of the dead woman, will hold a news conference Thursday in Howard Beach to mark the six-month anniversary of their daughter’s death and to continue pressuring state officials to approve use of familial searching in DNA analysis. The method is used in 10 states, including California where officials this week announced a four-decade-old homicide had been solved with the procedure.
Politicians expected to attend the news conference at 83rd Street and 164th Avenue are state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) and Assemb. Stacey Pfeffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach). Boyle is sponsoring a bill in Albany that would authorize use of familial searching.