An Ozone Park man who police said was found naked late Tuesday screaming in the park where jogger Karina Vetrano was killed in August has volunteered to give investigators a sample of his DNA as part of the homicide investigation, officials said Wednesday.
A high ranked NYPD official cautioned that Matthew Fox, 47, who was found naked in the mud of Spring Creek Park, is not considered a suspect in the Vetrano case but that investigators needed to take a careful look because of statements made when officers tried to extricate him from the soggy ground.
“The father did it and I have nothing to do with it,” Fox was yelling at police who responded to a location in the park after a Howard Beach resident called 911 about 9:30 p.m. to report she heard screaming from the marshy area, police said. A group of officers from the 106th Precinct and the Strategic Response Group went to the spot to find Fox, who police believe was under the influence of drugs.
It was unclear who Fox was referring to in his rant, the official said. Fox was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for treatment. He faces charges of public lewdness and trespass, according to police. The park is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.
Vetrano, 31, was found strangled on Aug. 2 after she had left her Howard Beach home about 5:30 p.m. to do a run through the park, something she often did with her father, Philip, who couldn’t join her that day because of a back injury. When his daughter didn’t return home, Philip Vetrano called police who began a search. Her body was located about 10:30 p.m. after police pinged her smartphone in the park. An autopsy determined that she had been strangled and police said she had also been sexually abused and beaten.
Investigators found DNA on Vetrano’s body but so far have not been able to match it with any known profile in state and federal databases. NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce has repeatedly said that none of Vetrano’s family members or boyfriends were considered suspects.
It may take a day or two for police to analyze Fox’s DNA sample but until then cannot dismiss him as part of the investigation, the official said. Police did get some personal information from Fox before he became extremely agitated, the official said.
Philip Vetrano declined to comment on Fox’s arrest because of the ongoing investigation. A GoFundMe page he started has amassed more than $281,000 as a reward in the case. The city also is offering a separate $35,000 reward.