The Queens jogger who was raped and murdered when she went on a solo run in a remote area near her home was savagely beaten as she desperately fought for her life, law enforcement sources said Thursday.
“She was really beat up. Her teeth were shattered,” a source said of 30-year-old Karina Vetrano, whose lifeless body was found after she went for a jog alone on a desolate path in the marshy park near Howard Beach on Tuesday night.
Vetrano had “scratches and marks all over her body, which was in bad shape,” the source said.
The murderer “strangled her with such ferocity that there were obvious signs of trauma to her neck,” another source said, adding that it was “manual strangulation.”
Vetrano, an avid runner and fitness buff, “put up a real fight” during the attack, sources said. At some point, she was dragged off the dirt path through a heavily weeded area in Spring Creek Park.
No arrests have been made in the case, but police are interviewing several known sex offenders who live in the area as well as homeless vagrants who live in the park.
Police interviewed Vetrano’s ex-boyfriend Wednesday and ruled him out as a suspect, NYPD officials said.
Investigators believe the killer is likely a vagrant, sources said.
Cops late Wednesday discovered a used condom and wrapper discarded not far from the quiet path where Vetrano’s body was found, sources said.
Police on Thursday were combing through the weeds looking for Vetrano’s missing shoe, which apparently came off while she was being dragged.
“We are still in the process of collecting evidence right now,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Thursday. “We plan to chop down just about every weed at that location until we are satisfied that we got all the evidence.”
Boyce added that “a lot” of forensic evidence has been acquired, but “we are not getting a lot of Crimestopper tips.”
Police did a DNA swab on Vetrano’s cellphone, which was found off the dirt path, and are awaiting the results, Boyce said.
To beef up manpower in the investigation, the NYPD has set up a task force composed of two detectives from each of the eight squads in Queens South, sources said.
Vetrano’s devastated father, Philip, returned to the crime sceneThursday morning. He had discovered his daughter’s body as police scoured the area Tuesday.
The 60-year-old former firefighter pulled up in his white Mercedes SUV and was spotted speaking with cops.
Karina Vetrano regularly ran along the path inside the park with her dad, but he begged off Tuesday night to nurse a back injury. He’d told her not to go near the area, but she assured him she’d be fine, sources said.
When his daughter had not returned home two hours later, around 7 p.m., Philip Vetrano called a police-chief neighbor, who contacted cops.
Investigators tracked her cellphone to a marshy area in the park.
Roughly 20 minutes later, a helicopter circling overhead shined a light on a patch of tall weeds about 20 feet off the path — and Vetrano’s father ran to the spot and found his daughter’s body face down, sources said.
The NYPD on Thursday raised the reward to $10,000 for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of Vetrano’s killer.