A man has been arrested in the strangulation of a New York City woman who had gone out for a run last summer and was found dead in a secluded marsh, authorities said Sunday.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Chanel Lewis, 20, of Brooklyn, was taken into custody Saturday night. Formal charges and an arraignment were pending; it wasn’t clear if Lewis had an attorney. Lewis has no prior arrest record, police said.
Karina Vetrano was killed Aug. 2 after going for a run not far from her Queens home. Her father, a retired firefighter who usually went running with her but hadn’t on that day, later discovered her badly beaten body.
Boyce said the encounter that led to 30-year-old Vetrano’s death apparently was a chance one, and authorities didn’t believe she and Lewis knew each other.
The chief detective said the investigation led to Lewis after police went back through 911 calls and found one reporting a suspicious person. Investigators interviewed Lewis on Thursday and obtained a DNA sample from him, which Boyce said was tested and linked to DNA found at the scene and on the victim.
“You gotta remember Karina helped us identify this person,” Boyce said. “She had the DNA under her nails. She had touch DNA on her back and there was more DNA on her cellphone. So three incidents. That’s how we were able to bring this profile up. And that’s how we made the link.”
Boyce said investigators returned to the home where Lewis lives with his mother. The detective said that after Lewis was arrested he gave incriminating statements on “each step of the assault.” Asked for a more detailed description of Lewis, Boyce declined to comment on the suspect’s mental state or social behavior.