Howard Beach residents view the story behind the story of a murdered New York City jogger as decades of fighting with local and federal officials over the federal marshland that now serves as a crime scene.
“That’s federal land,” said Antonio Gallina, a Howard Beach resident. “First of all, [no one] is supposed go to there. And Second, they got to take care of the land and keep it clean.”
For the third consecutive night on Thursday, NYPD detectives continued their investigation into the sexual assault, and murder of jogger Karina Vetrano.
The 30-year-old Howard Beach resident was found about fifteen feet, by her own father, off a jogging path that is out of view from the street.
The height of the grass has been an issue of contention at the location for some time.
“I never walked in there,” said Lila Martino, a Howard Beach resident. “But every time I walked by it, I never wanted to go in it. Even when I was younger, we would ride bikes and stuff like that. I always felt like it was sinister.”
On Thursday, Vetrano’s father returned to the scene, as investigators are trying to determine if a used condom found not far from her badly beaten body was used during the attack.
“She was beaten quite severely,” said Robert Boyce, NYPD chief of detectives, “which would suggest she put up a big fight.”
Spring Creek Park is federally protected parkland located within city limits, and with apparently very little upkeep or security, often patrolled by just a pair of mounted parks officers, according to residents.
“We plan to chop down just about every weed in that location until we’re satisfied that we got all the evidence,” Boyce said.
That’s why detectives went door to door.
They hope resident surveillance video will show who else was in the marshland at the time of Vetrano’s murder.
In this close knit, predominantly Italian-American neighborhood, Gallina voiced the desire for a speedy resolution in the form of street justice, a sentiment which has been heard repeatedly off camera.
“I got a headache for a couple of days, believe me,” he said. “It’s a shame. I hope they catch the guys. You gotta hang them. No trial, please. No trial. You waste money. Hang them.”
Police offered a $10,000 reward for information about a suspect.
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