Friday, March 24, 2017

Hell's Angels Member Arrested For Loaded Weapon On Outstanding Warrant For Disobeying Park Rules

Manhattan

By Geoffrey Croft

A Hell's Angels member was arrested in Manhattan for having a loaded gun after police found he was wanted for an outstanding warrant for of all things, failure to obey public park rules.

Michael Avallone, 37, of Yonkers was stopped by police for a traffic infraction at 14th Street and 9th Avenue, in Chelsea at 2:45 a.m. on Thursday.

A check of his license revealed he had three outstanding warrants, one of which was for failure to answer a summons, which cited him for a violating a public parks hours of operation, according to the NYPD.

While in custody, the biker admitted to police that he had a loaded gun stashed under the passenger seat of the vehicle.

Police secured a search warrant and found a loaded .380 caliber Ruger, along with an extra, six round clip of ammo.

Avallone was charged with criminal possession of a firearm.

He has one previous arrest which is sealed. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Help Sought In Fort Tyron Park Robbery


Screen shot from MTA video released by the NYPD of four suspects laughing it up in the elevator after the incident. The suspects are wanted in connection for a robbery in Fort Tyron Park on February 22nd. 

Manhattan

By Geoffrey Croft

The NYPD is seeking the public's assistance in identifying four male persons of interest in connection to a robbery Fort Tyron Park within the confines of the 34 Precinct. 

Details are as follows:

It has been reported to police that on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at approximately 5:30pm the individuals approached the 27-year-old male victim while in Fort Tyron Park. 

The individuals proceeded to attack the victim by kicking and punching him, finally removing the victim's Sony camcorder and fleeing. The victim sustained a minor scratch on his right ear, swelling above the left eyebrow, and minor swelling on his upper lip. He was not removed to the hospital.

Video from after the incident is  available at DCPI.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential.



NYPD Seeking Public's Help In St. Mary's Park Gun-Point Robbery



The NYPD released a photo of one of the individuals wanted in connection for a gun-point robbery in St. Mary's Park on February 6th. 

Bronx

By Geoffrey Croft

The NYPD is seeking the public's assistance in identifying  two individuals wanted in connection to a robbery in St. Mary's Park, within the confines of the 40 Precinct. 

Details are as follows:

It has been reported to police that on Monday, February 6, 2017 at approximately 3:00pm,  two male black individuals approached the 21-year-old male victim while inside St. Mary's Park, located in the vicinity of Trinity Avenue and East 147 Street. 

The individuals proceeded to display a firearm and demand the victim's bike. After removing the bike from the victim, each individual fled in opposite directions.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).  

The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Police Arrest 14 Gang Members Selling Drugs In Queens Park

The spoils of the cops’ raid on the Always Banging Kings.

Police arrested forteen suspected gang members and seized 30 pounds marijuana, 3 guns,  $55,000 in cash and 400 grams of cocaine in raids after a neary two year investigation.     The members ranged in age from 15 to 30.   (Images: NYPD)

Queens

By Geoffrey Croft

The police smashed a drug ring yesterday, arresting fourteen suspected gang members who controlled a park in Queens, NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

The gang sold drugs on basketball and handball courts inside the park.

Police seized 30 pounds marijuana, 3 guns,  $55,000 in cash and 400 grams of cocaine in raids.

Police began an investigation early in 2016 into the gang who call themselves “ABK” or “Always Banging Kings,” which operated predominately in parks in Jackson Heights, Queens according to police sources.

Police determined that the gang was responsible for drug sales and resulting violence in and around several parks, and met for public meetings inside one in particular. 

Travers Park, on Northern Blvd and 77th Street where two people were seriously injured in 2016 when they were viciously attacked by gang members in separate incidents,  Both were stabbed, one was slashed with a machete. 

Undercover officers from NYPD’s Queens North Gang Squad made buys of drugs including Marijuana, cocaine, prescription pills and in a new twist, straight Fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.  Fentanyl, a sedative, is often added to heroin to make it stronger which is a leading cause of overdoses across the country.    

Authorities are now seeing a new trend, drug gangs sell straight Fentanyl in pill form to customers minus the cocaine. 

Police said the low level dealers were the gangs soldiers, 15 to 18 years olds, responsible for the street level drug sales and most of the violence. The gang was headed by a series of Lieutenants and Captains, 25 - 30 years old who supplied the drugs and directed the violence.

The drug sales made the gang hundreds of thousands of dollars with customers coming as far away as Long Island to purchase the drugs in the parks.

The gang also dealt in a high-grade hydroponic marijuana -  grown in water instead of in soil. The marijuana was grown in Sacramento California and shipped through the US Postal Service. 

The gang  was put under surveillance and detectives obtained warrant sto wiretap gang members phones.

Police seized 30 pounds of marijuana in yesterday’s raid worth an estimated $75,000. 

Police conducted raids on other identified members of the gang and picked up 14 people in raids on homes in Jackson Heights, Corona and Sunnyside, Queens.  Other members are being sought.

They seized 30 pounds marijuana worth $75,000 on the street, 3 guns, $55,000 in cash and 400 grams cocaine as well as three vehicles used the transport the drugs. 

The gang was also known to frequent Moore Homestead Playground in Elmhurst as well.

In May an 18-year-old Hispanic male playing basketball in Travers Park was stabbed in the back.  The victim suffered a collapsed lung, multiple stab wounds, and swelling and bruising to the face. He was hit with a chain and slashed with a broken Snapple bottle above his right eye.   

He was asked if he was a member of ABK - Always Banging Kings - a vicious rival of the Latin Kings.    

In August, a 21 year-old man was slashed by a machete and stabbed several times while walking through Travers Park when he was approached by three men. One of the men pulled out a machete and slashed the victim in the head, and twice on the left arm and once in the right.  

A Queens County grand jury indicted six purported members of the notorious ABK (Always Bangin’ Kings) street gang for plotting to kill two rival gang members in December 2016 and that an additional eleven individuals affiliated with the ABK gang have been indicted or summarily arrested for selling drugs in the Elmhurst and Maspeth neighborhoods of Queens at various times between January 2016 and November 2016, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill  announced today.   

As part of the takedown, three other alleged ABK gang members – two women and a man – were apprehended this week and charged with gang assault and other crimes for a vicious attack on a male individual at a fast food restaurant in Woodside, Queens, last month.  

“A long-term investigation, which included court-authorized wiretaps, is alleged to have thwarted the death of two individuals in Queens three months ago when an investigator allegedly overheard the defendants planning to kill rival gang members," District Attorney Brown said, 

"Fortunately for the victims, the defendants were arrested as they are alleged to have been laying in wait for their targets to exit a bar,” he said.

“Today, the defendants find themselves under arrest for selling cocaine and other drugs in the Elmhurst and Maspeth neighborhoods of Queens,"  Police Commissioner James O’Neill said in a statement.
  
"The investigation also prevented at least two homicides, as detectives were able to intervene before the killing of two rival gang members.” 

The two other defendants pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy and are deemed youthful offenders. Their cases are sealed according to the Queens District Attorney's office.


Police seized 30 pounds marijuana during the raid.



ATTEMPTED MURDER DEFENDANTS (6 defendants)

Michael “Ceoz” Aalil, 20, of Elmhurst, is charged with second-degree attempted murder, second- and fourth-degree conspiracy, first degree attempted gang assault, first-degree attempted assault, second-, third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. The defendant was arraigned before Acting Supreme Court Justice Toko Serita, who set bail at $2 million. His next court date is April 6, 2017.  If convicted, the defendant faces up to 25 years in prison.

Francis “Franchise” Carias, 29, of East Elmhurst, is charged with second-degree attempted murder, second- and fourth-degree conspiracy, first degree attempted gang assault, first-degree attempted assault, second-, third and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm and resisting arrest.  The defendant was arraigned before Supreme Court Justice Gia Morris and was remanded into custody. His next court date is March 14, 2017. If convicted, the defendant faces up to life in prison.

Dionicio “Dime” Castro, 23, of Woodside, is charged with second-degree attempted murder, second- and fourth-degree conspiracy, first-degree attempted gang assault, first-degree attempted assault, second- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm and resisting arrest. The defendant was arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Gia Morris and was remanded into custody. His next court date is April 6, 2017. If convicted, the defendant faces up to 25 years in prison.

Michael “Tunes” Cortes, 24, of Jackson Heights, is charged with second-degree attempted murder, second- and fourth-degree conspiracy, first-degree attempted gang assault, first-degree attempted assault, second-, third and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. The defendant was arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Toko Serita, who set bail at $2 million. His next court date is April 6, 2017. If convicted, the defendant faces up to life in prison.

DRUG SELLING INDICTMENTS AND CRIMINAL COMPLAINTS (11 defendants)

Joshua Bonilla, 22, of Elmhurst, is charged with third- and fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, fourth- and fifth-degree criminal sale of marihuana. The defendant was arraigned this week before Acting Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron, who set bail at $2 million. The next court date is April 7, 2017. If convicted, Bonilla faces up to nine years in prison.

Michael Diaz, 25, of Jackson Heights, is charged with third-degree criminal sale of marihuana and is being sought. If convicted, Diaz faces up to two years in prison.

Jonathan Francisco, 25, of Corona, is charged with third- and fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and fourth-degree criminal sale of marihuana. The defendant was arraigned this week before Acting Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron, who released the defendant on his own recognizance and ordered him to return to court on April 7, 2017. If convicted, Francisco faces up to nine years in prison.

John Gutierrez, 32, of Corona, is charged with third-degree criminal sale of marihuana and is being sought. If convicted, Gutierrez faces up to two years in prison.

Michelle Mendez, 31, of Elmhurst, is charged with third- and fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and fourth-degree criminal sale of marihuana. The defendant was arraigned this week before Acting Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron, who released the defendant on her own recognizance and ordered her to return to court on April 7, 2017. If convicted, Mendez faces up to nine years in prison.

Marco Neira, 23, of Kew Gardens, is charged with second-degree criminal possession of marijuana. The defendant was arraigned this week before Queens Criminal Court Judge John Zoll, who set bail at $10,000 and ordered the defendant to return to court on March 22, 2017. If convicted, he faces up to two and a half  years in prison.

Joshua Ortega, 22, of Flushing, is charged with criminal sale of marijuana and conspiracy. The defendant is awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court. If convicted, he faces up to five and a half  years in prison.

Louis Quinonez, 23, of Flushing, is charged with criminal sale of marijuana and conspiracy. The defendant is awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

Javier Trivino, 25, of Corona, is charged with third- and fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and is being sought. If convicted, Trivino faces up to 15 years in prison.

Carlos Villafane, 22, of Flushing, is charged with first-, second- and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. The defendant was arraigned this week before Queens Criminal Court Judge John Zoll, who remanded the defendant. The next court date is March 22, 2017. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Jin Bin Zheng, 33, of Brooklyn, is charged with first-degree sale of marijuana. The defendant is awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court.  If convicted, he faces up to five and a half years in prison.

GANG ASSAULT CRIMINAL COMPLAINTS (3 defendants)

Jennifer Charris, 31, of Elmhurst, is charged with first-degree gang assault, first- and second-degree assault, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Defendant was arraigned this week before Criminal Court Judge John Zoll, who released her on her own recognizance and ordered her to return to court on March 22, 2017. If convicted, she faces up to 25 years in prison.

Anthony Delgado, 21, of Corona, is charged with first-degree gang assault, first- and second-degree assault, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Defendant was arraigned this week before Queens Criminal Court Judge John Zoll, who set bail at $250,000 and ordered him back to court on March 22, 2017. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

Margaret Lynch-Frazier, 27, of Sunnyside, is charged with first-degree gang assault, first- and second-degree assault, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Defendant was arraigned this week before Queens Criminal Court Judge John Zoll, who set bail at $20,000 and ordered her to return to court on March 22, 2017. If convicted, she faces up to 25 years in prison. 

Read/View More

WABC - March 9, 2017  

New York Daily News -  March 9, 2017 
      
New York Post - March 9, 2017 - By Amanda Woods




Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Battery Park Ticket Scalper Sentenced


Gregory Reddick 54, of Jamaica Queens was arrested on May 27, 2015 for allegedly selling tickets to tourists on Pier 15 - South Street Seaport illegally.  He ran to Battery Park after being questioned by park police. The issue attracted wide-spread media attention.  Reddick’s arrests date to the 80's and include six felony convictions,  multiple burglary and criminal possession of stolen property convictions. 

Vendors have no valid Parks Department permit to sell tickets on park property according to the city.  For years these vendors have been operating in broad daylight with little or sporadic enforcement from authorities. 

Manhattan/Queens

By Geoffrey Croft

The Queens resident arrested in 2015 for illegally selling tourists tickets in Battery Park was found guilty and sentenced NYC Park Advocates has learned.

On Friday Gregory Reddick of Jamaica Queens was sentenced to 45 days in jail after a jury recently found him guilty of Resisting Arrest following a jury trial. 

He rejected a plea deal and opted for a jury trial instead. 

Reddick was found not guilty of the other charges - Obstructing Governmental Administration, Unlawful Vending in a New York City Park, and Harassment.

His arrest in May 2015 garnered wide-spread media attention.

He was arrested on May 27, 2015 after leading park police on a wild chase in lower Manhattan. 

A Parks Enforcement Patrolman officer on Pier 15 (South Street Seaport) says he saw Reddick allegedly take cash from two customers according to the criminal complaint. 

When the officer asked Reddick to see an ID and Parks permit he responded, "F*ck off off,  I ain't givin' you shit,"  according to an officer at the scene.  

The officer called for back up.  

He shoved the officer in the chest and took off. The officers chased Reddick a half mile away to Battery Park where he and a half-dozen fellow officers surrounded the 200-pound suspect, subduing him with the help of pepper spray, the complaint says.


Illegal vendors swarm the subway exit in the Battery Park.   The proprietors of these businessed claim they are not required to have a Parks' permit because they are selling “entertainment” such as sightseeing tours and fall under "expressive matter" sales and therefor are protected under by the First Amendment. 

Reddick sued the city after his arrest.

Read More:

Update: Battery Park Tourist Scalper Scam - Queens Resident Arrested 
A Walk In The Park - May 30, 2015 - By Geoffrey Croft

Con man in $400 Staten Island ferry scam sues NYC after arrest
 New York Post -  June 5, 2015 - By Julia Marsh and Kevin Fasick







Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Teen Attacked & Stabbed In Prospect Park

Brooklyn 

By Geoffrey Croft


The victim an 18-year-old male was walking with friends last night in Prospect Park when he was attacked and stabbed in the abdomen in an apparent random attack, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

Two men approached the group and an altercation ensued.

The Incident occurred inside Prospect Park on the East Drive at approximately 9:45 p.m.  not far from 450 Flatbush Ave. 

Friends called 911 and the victim was taken to Methodist Hospital where he is expected to survive 

Seven of his friends were taken back to the 78 Pct. and all told the same story of the unprovoked attack.

The attacker is described as a male white, 6-ft-1 inches tall, 170 lbs. with dark hair. He was wearing a dark colored baseball cap, a dark hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.

Police are also looking for a second accomplice but did were unable to provide a description at this time. 

Both were described as in their 20's. 

Police canvassed the park and failed to find the attacker.

Central Park: Teens Rescused After Falling Into Pond While Taking Selfies.



FDNY divers continue to search water in Central Park near 59th Street and Central Park South and Sixth Avenue last night. (Images: FDNY via twitter)

By Geoffrey Croft

A group of dim-witted teens had to be rescued after they fall into the water in Central Park while taking selfies.

FDNY removed six persons from the water body.

The incident occurred just before 6:00pm last night at The Pond located at the southern end of the park near 59th Street.

The group had been messing around by the water when they decided to venture out onto the thin ice to take photos when they fell in.

Good Samaritans also got involved when they jumped into the water to help.

The boys ages 15 and 16 and were brought to local hospitals and treated for mild hypothermia according to fire officials.

“I think after tonight we can reinforce to the people that playing on ice is not a good idea,” FDNY Deputy Chief John Scof said during a press conference afterwards.




Thursday, February 9, 2017

Wash Sq. Pk Drug User Swallows Crack To Avoid Arrest

Manhattan

By Geoffrey Croft

A 60 year-old drug user with more than thirty arrests attempted to avoid another one in Washington Square Park by swallowing the evidence, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

The ploy did not work.

Two Park Enforcement Patrol Officers were patrolling the park on Monday afternoon when they observed what they believed to be a man smoking a crack pipe.

When they approached the man put  thecrack in his mouth and swallowed it.

“I don’t have it anymore because I swallowed it,” he replied when officers asked where the drug was.

EMS brought him to brought him to Lenox Hill Hospital and where he was cleared for processing.

PEP officers arrested Kenneth Ancrum, 60.

He was charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and Tampering With Physical Evidence.

Ancrum has at least thirty-two arrests, twenty-three for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.

The incident occured in the park near the corner of Washington Square Place and Washington Square West. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Male 20, Arrested In Murder of Queens Jogger In Spring Creek Park




Shortly after 5:46pm on August 2, 2015, Karina Vetrano stepped over the low guardrail (top right) at the corner of 83rd St. & 164th Avenue. She slipped past the chain link fence and though the invasive weeds and entered Spring Creek Park as she and her father had done countless times before to go for a run.  The area is less than a block away from her family home.  Her lifeless body was found less than a half a mile away along a dirt service road surrounded on both sides by a solid wall of eight feet high invasive phragmites which    She was found strangled, beaten and partly nude. Her teeth were knocked out and bruises consistent with being dragged through the weeds.  (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.

"She was unlucky that day,"  Philip Vetrano the victim's father said,  commenting on the random nature of his daughter meeting the suspect on that terrible summer day. 

Queens

By  Geoffrey Croft

Police arrested a 20-year-old male from East New York for the heinous murder of Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano.  

Chanel Lewis was taken into custody on Saturday night at 6:00 in connection with the brutal August 2, 2015 murder after his DNA matched evidence taken from the crime scene police said. 


Karina Vetrano, 30 was senselessly murdered while doing what she enjoyed, running in Spring Creek Park.


The case had frustrated law enforcement, family and friends of the victim and the public.  Despite the tremendous amount of resources allocated to the investigation progress appeared elusive at times.

Persistence finally paid off. 

On Thursday, six months to the day that Karina was senselessly murdered,  detectives visited the home of Lewis on Essex Street in East New York where he lives with his family including his mother and two sisters.  

He voluntarily gave his DNA through a cheek swab.  Within two days they came back with a match from the medical examiner’s lab.

On Saturday police returned and asked Lewis to step outside were he was promptly arrested.

“This is a very good day for justice in New York City, ” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said in his opening remarks at Sunday’s press conference at the 106th Pct. announcing the high-profile arrest.  

“After the extensive six month investigation during which over two hundred and fifty leads were received from the public and over seven hundred investigative reports were prepared, numerous DNA file searched, detectives were able to identify Lewis as a suspect in this case,” Boyce said providing details of the case. 


Chanel Lewis being escorted from the 107 Pct. to Queens Criminal Court on Sunday.  Lewis was arrested after the medical examiner’s lab matched DNA evidence from the crime scene to the suspect. He was charged with second-degree murder and has been remanded without bail.  Lewis attended special education school throughout his life. 


During his interview with detectives Lewis made, “detailed incriminating statements and admissions,” Boyce said.  

Police were able to determine that no one came out of the park on the Howard Beach side, which lead the investigation to East New York side in Brooklyn and the bike path area that runs along the Belt Parkway near where Lewis received the summonses.

During a “deep dive” of intelligence gathering police discovered a 911 call from May -  more than three months before the murder - made from an area resident of a “suspicious person” in the area.  

From that call the police were able to develop a profile over the last ten days.   Although Lewis has no prior arrests he did have three summonses in 2013,  NYPD Lt. John Russo, who lives in Howard Beach, tracked down the summonses which authorities said was key in helping to identify Lewis. 

At the time of the August incident police ran the recovered DNA through a national FBI database as well as a local state database of offenders.  The DNA did not match any DNA on file.

The state began collecting DNA for offenders in 1998 and this only proves the killer may have been in jail prior to '98 or he was never arrested for a crime for which a DNA sample is required.

Police had previously stated  that three separate DNA profiles were found all from the same person, an unidentified male.    Touch DNA - from contact with hands or body such as sweat or skin cells - was recovered on the victim’s cell phone which was found away from the body. The DNA was also recovered on her back,  behind her ear, and under Vetrano’s fingernails. 

“Karina helped us identify this person,” Chief Detective Boyce said. 

“She had the DNA under her nails she had touch DNA on her back and there was more DNA on the cell phone. Three instances, that’s how we were able to bring the profile up and that’s how we made the link,”  he said.

On Sunday Chief Boyce singled out Lt. Russo  as a “key player” in helping to identify Chanel Lewis as the prime suspect, he also highlighted the crime scene personnel who worked in the intense summer heat to recover the evidence used to catch the suspect. 

Early in the investigation police were pretty convinced it was a random crime, they had no evidence she was being stalked or she was killed by someone who knew her.

On Saturday they reaffirmed that stating that the incident,  “appeared to be a chance encounter.”

According to law enforcement sources Lewis used the park often. The day of  the murder he was going to get something to eat when he encountered the jogger he told police. 





















Isolation and Cover - No Where to Run or Hide.  Police say Karina Vetrano encountered the suspect while jogging along this desolete  dirt path in Spring Creek Park where the thick, overgrown dense weeds trapped her.  For years area residents have complained about the park's lack of maitainence including highly agressive phragmites which grow upwards of twelve feet high.  These concerns have fallen on deaf ears, and in August had deadly consequences.


Shortly after 5:46pm  Karina Vetrano entered Spring Creek Park at the corner of 83rd St. & 164th Avenue less than a block away from her family home to go for a jog   She stepped over the low guardrail, slipped past the chain link fence and though the invasive weeds as she and her father had done countless times before.

There she jogged along an eight foot wide dirt road that snakes around the two hundred plus acre natural area park managed by the National Park Service.  Much of the narrow road is surrounded on both sides by an impenetrable wall of invasive phragmites, weeds that grow greater than eleven feet high and provided cover and an opportunity for the murder.  

Vetrano had been listening to music and texting a friend during the run but at some point that stopped Chief Boyce had previously  stated. 

The victim and the suspect encountered each other along the desolate dirt road.

They approached in opposite directions amidst the maze-like condition of the park where she allegedly scared him the suspect told police.

Her lifeless body was found less than a half a mile away from where she entered the park along off the dirt road surrounded on both sides by a solid wall of eight feet high invasive phragmites. 

Bright orange evidence marker cones at the crime scene in August.


The victim’s father and police found her body facedown in weeds about 15 feet off the desolate path.   

She was strangled, beaten and partly nude. Her teeth were knocked out and had bruises consistent with being dragged through the weeds.   She put up a fight.

The suspect maintains he did not sexually assault her.  

Chanel Lewis in Queens Criminal Court.


Lewis was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court and charged with second-degree murder. He was remanded without bail.  

His next court date is February 21st.

Lewis attended special education school throughout his life according to police sources.  On Sunday Chief Boyce declined talk about, "where he is socially." 

After the suspect’s arrest Karina’s parents spoke with reporters in front of their home. 
“I’m at a lose for words," the victim’s father, retired fiire fighter Philip Vetrano said.

”We had hoped to get to this point one day, we didn’t know when it was going to happen, it just happened very quickly. We can’t even respond to how we feel. We know yet,” he said.  

“Police did an excellent job, they solved this through good old hard investigative work,” Mr. Vetrano said.


Phragmites at the crime scene growing back aggressively less than two weeks after it had been cleared. 


I’m not going to say it’s a good day but we can move forward now,” he said.

Both parents praised the diligent police work that lead to the arrest of Lewis.

“We love our daughter so very very deeply,” said Cathy Vetrano.

“Our sorrow is so endlessly painful that hearing the news is not what I expected,  there is no happiness but we are grateful to the New York City Police Department,” who she credited as working endlessly and tirelessly to help bring her daughter’s killer to justice. 

“We would stop at nothing to find the savage that did this to her,” she said.

“Thinking about it logically, its was impossible for someone to follow her in there. It had to be a random ‘wrong place at the wrong time.’   She was unlucky that day,” the victim's father said after the suspect's arrest,  commenting on the random nature of his daughter's meeting with the suspect that fateful summer day. 

“The demon must get his justice and we will see to it,”  Mrs. Vetrano said.

Her husband agreed.

The family once again called for the state to allow familial DNA testing which could create partial matches from the relatives of criminals and help solve crimes by broadening the scope of potential suspects who’s DNA are not in Federal or state databases. 

On Thursday, the six-month anniversary of the murder, Mr. & Mrs. Vetrano and friends gathered at corner of 83rd St. & 164th Avenue 83rd Street the location where their daughter entered the park and spoke out in support of familial DNA testing.

Vetrano’s family and the NYPD have used the case to push the state to allow the testing. 

In August a track and multi terrain loader owned by the National Park Service was brought in to  help clear large tracks of invasive species to reduce fire danger.  The  vehicle is dwarfed by the massive phragmites which grow up to twelve feet high in the park.

The vehicle is equipped with a masticator, a large piece of equipment designed to mow and shred brush.    Mastication - mechanical brush mowing - is a temporary and cost effective method of cutting down large expanses of grasses.

A spokeswoman for Gateway National Recreation area has pointed out that simply mowing the weeds wasn’t a viable option for eradication. 

“It grows back very quickly and stronger and becomes more dense after mowing.” 

The roots need to be removed.  
  

The official National Park Service Spring Creek Park sign is obscured from the street by the invasive Porcelainberry.   Non of the green pictured here should be in the park.  The majority of the 200 acre park is filled with invasive plants due to more than a half a century of "deferred maintenance." 


Karina Vetrano entered Spring Creek Park at the corner of 83rd St. & 164th Avenue, less than a block away from her family home.  Her lifeless body was found less than a half a mile away along a dirt service road surrounded by a solid wall of eight feet high invasive phragmites. Police say she was brutally attacked and killed by Chanel Lewis of East New York who accessed the park from Brooklyn side of the Belt Park way. He visited the park frequently according to police sources. (Graph: NYC Park Advocates)

(Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.

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A Walk In The Park  - February 4, 2017  - By Geoffrey Croft

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