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Investigation in jogger’s slaying shifts to Brooklyn, NYPD says

Karina Vetrano was found dead in the marshes

Karina Vetrano was found dead in the marshes near 161st Avenue and 78th Street in Howard Beach, Aug. 2, 2016. Credit: Karina Vetrano was found dead in the marshes near 161st Avenue and 78th Street in Howard Beach, Aug. 2, 2016.

Police have shifted part of their investigation into the slaying of Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano to Brooklyn and the western part of Spring Creek Park — the place where she died — in an effort to identify her killer, a top NYPD official said Wednesday.

The case is taking detectives away from the western border of Howard Beach to areas around the Belt Parkway, Erskine Street and Fountain Avenue, all places in Brooklyn, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said in a news conference on an unrelated matter.

“We have not found any video footage of this perpetrator entering [the park] or leaving, for that matter, on the Howard Beach side,” Boyce said. “So we have done a pivot to the west to see exactly that area of Brooklyn.”

Boyce said he walked the park area, part of a federal wetlands zone, several times and determined an assailant could have gone west along the Belt Parkway to Fountain Avenue or Erskine Street.

“So that is where part of our investigation is right now, into that area . . . you would have to walk, you couldn’t drive a car, you could ride a bicycle, there is a parallel bicycle path that runs along the Belt Parkway at that point,” Boyce said.

The body of Vetrano, 30, was found about 10:40 p.m. Aug. 2 after her father reported to a police friend that he had not heard from his daughter since about 5:30 p.m. that day when she left for a routine jog. Investigators said she had been strangled and raped. Police said Vetrano likely entered the park at 81st Street and 164th Avenue, her usual route. Her body was found about 20 feet from a path near 78th Street and 161st Avenue.

Police are still hoping for the public’s help. Since the start of a GoFundMe campaign set up last week by Vetrano’s family, Boyce said the pace of tips has accelerated as the reward approaches $250,000. Police have received about 70 tips, and about a dozen are still open and under investigation, Boyce said.

Police said they have collected all of the physical evidence that exists from the crime scene, including a viable sample of what is called “extraneous” DNA, meaning it is from someone other than Vetrano. However, a check of databases has not tied the sample to anyone. Police have asked people to voluntarily give DNA samples but only as a way of limiting the universe of possible suspects, one official said.

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