In less than a day, a GoFundMe page set up by the father of slain Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano soared past its initial goal of $100,000 in an effort to increase the reward and smoke out new leads for investigators.
Phillip Vetrano announced the fund Wednesday morning at an impromptu news conference in front of his Howard Beach, Queens, home with the goal of raising $100,000 by the end of the day. By 9:10 p.m., the fund had exceeded the goal with $147,343 from 1,940 donors. The page showed a new goal of $200,000. Individual contributions ranged from $10 to as much as $500.
“Somebody knows something. Somebody has to say something, and with this amount of money maybe they will,” Vetrano said. “What we need is someone to say ‘Hello, I know the guy.’ ”
The fund can be found at the GoFundMe website under the name Karina Vetrano Memorial Fund.
Vetrano told Newsday the money donated through the website will be added to $25,000 being held in a different account, and that by the end of the day he hopes to raise $100,000 total from those two sources. The city’s reward money — $20,000 — is separate.
The body of Karina Vetrano, 30, was found in Spring Creek Park on Aug. 2 about 10:40 p.m. by her father and police. Officials said she had been strangled and sexually assaulted.
She had gone for her usual run about 5:30 p.m. in nearby federal wetlands area, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. She normally went jogging with her father, but he couldn’t go that day because of a back problem, police said.
The New York Police Department has established a task force and set up a 24-hour command post at the crime scene.
So far, while evidence has been collected, police sources said investigators have no leads on a possible suspect. DNA evidence has been found, but has not been matched to profiles of any other persons, the sources said.
Phillip Vetrano said he is remaining involved in the case as a way of helping the family — himself included — cope with the tragedy.
“If I wake up and there is nothing for me to do, that is when the bottom is going to drop out,” he told reporters. “So I have to stay involved every day, in every way.”