Hundreds of mourners are expected to jam St. Helen Church in Howard Beach for Saturday’s funeral Mass of slain jogger Karina Vetrano as police continue to search the marshy area near her home where she was found strangled.
The noon service comes the day after police reported they found missing items the 30-year-old woman had with her when she went for a run through Spring Creek, a wetlands popular with joggers, anglers and homeless people.
Officers said they found one of Vetrano’s missing jogging shoes and her earbuds. Both items where recovered within 100 feet of where her body was discovered, a police official said.
Vetrano was found dead about 9 p.m. Wednesday after her father alerted police when she didn’t return from her 5 p.m. jog. An autopsy determined she had been strangled and police said she had been raped.
The death of the vivacious young woman, who was a graduate of St. John’s University, has stunned Howard Beach where she lived with her parents in a large home on 84th Street. Joanne Vollkommer, 50, a neighbor, said the killing has caste a pall over the community the likes of which it has not seen since the flooding it experienced with superstorm Sandy.
On Friday police said the marsh area was overflown by a special FBI drone. Officers also used a special 360-degree camera to photograph the roads that Vetrano is believed to have traveled during her jog. Police are maintaining a 24-hour command post near the crime scene and residents have placed white ribbons on trees and lampposts as a symbol of mourning.
Earlier, police said DNA evidence had been found and was being analyzed to determine if the profile matched that of anyone known to law enforcement, a process that could take as long as a week.
On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio asked the public to provide police with any information that could be useful. A town-hall meeting is scheduled for Monday evening at St. Helen with elected officials and police at which residents are expected to raise the issue of safety in the marsh area.