The father of Chanel Lewis, the 20-year-old man who was arrested this weekend for the August 2016 murder of Queens, New York, jogger Karina Vetrano, told reporters that he was “extremely surprised” by the charges.
According to the New York Post, Richard Lewis, a 70-year-old former school principal, called his son a good student and “a very humble kid” when he met with reporters on Sunday.
“Chanel would never have gone to do what they say he has done,” the father said. “He’s never had a fight in his 20 years.”
In fact, Richard said his son, who lived with his mother and siblings in East New York, was previously the victim of crimes. He said Chanel was hospitalized last year after being mugged and hit in the head with a piece of wood by three people. Chanel was later mugged again by the assailants.
The dad said he would tell Vetrano’s family, “I’m sorry to hear about , but I’m sure that would not be a part of that.”
Vetrano’s parents, Phil and Cathy Vetrano, expressed mixed feelings to reporters outside their home.
“I’m not going to say it is a good day but we can move forward now,” Phil said after praising police for their investigative work, according to the New York Daily News. “We know who did this.”
“The demon must get his justice,” Cathy said. “We will see to it.”
At an NYPD press conference on Sunday, police said that they do not believe that Lewis knew Vetrano prior to her disappearance. They said he had no prior criminal history aside from some summonses. According to police, Lewis gave a DNA swab to authorities after an interview on Feb. 2. His DNA allegedly matched with DNA found on Vetrano. He has been booked on murder and sexual assault charges, according to police. It is not known how he pleads against the charges or if he has retained an attorney.
On Sunday he was seen leaving a police station in handcuffs while reporters and bystanders shouted at him. In a video from AM New York, Lewis looked around while he was led to a cop car, appearing stunned and confused, as people could be heard yelling “why’d you kill her?”
After six-month long search, the arrest took place Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn, New York, according to the New York Daily News.
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Vetrano’s body was found in Spring Creek Park around 11 p.m. on Aug. 2, about a dozen feet from a jogging trail she used daily, according to police.
The 30-year-old was sexually assaulted and strangled after putting up a “ferocious fight,” investigators previously revealed. They further believe Vetrano bit her attacker, because her teeth showed signs of cracking and found DNA under her fingernails.
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