The sketch police released of the man they believe could help with the case.
Chief Robert Boyce holds up the sketch at a Wednesday morning press conference.
Police are actively looking for a man who was last seen near the site of Karina Vetrano's murder in Howard Beach earlier this month.
On Wednesday morning, police released the sketch of the man, but Chief Robert Boyce, the NYPD's chief of department, was careful to note that he is not wanted as a suspect or a person of interest in the homicide. Rather they believe he may have some information that could be useful to the case.
“I will be very strong in telling you that he is not a suspect,” he said. “We don't believe he committed a homicide and right now he is not even a [person of interest].”
He added, “We want to speak to this person because we feel he was there.”
According to Boyce, the man was seen on the pathway of the Belt Parkway, which runs along the north end of Spring Creek Park. The sketch was prepared by a utility worker who was working in the area and saw the individual near the top of Spring Creek Park.
The man is described as a black male, aged 35-45, approximately 5-feet 10-inches with a medium build and last seen wearing dark pants with a red t-shirt and a dark wool hat. Boyce called it “a little unusual,” that the man was wearing a wool hat since the date of the murder was August 2.
“We don't know who he is, if he's a fellow jogger or what he's doing,” Boyce admitted.
He added, if you see this man, to immediately call the Crime Stoppers police tip line, at 1-800-577-TIPS.
Previously, the investigation was focused on video evidence collected from the nearby neighbors, but nobody emerged as a suspect from that footage, so that's why Boyce said it's so important they talk to the man.
“At this point, we've shifted our investigation into the bicycle path were there is no video, so now we have to rely on witness [identification],” Boyce said.
Two days ago, the victim's father Phil Vetrano publicly publicly mentioned a man that was a common jogger in the park as well and police were able to locate him and speak with him. Boyce said that man provided no clues.
At this time, police have also created a DNA profile of the suspect, culled from three parts of the crime scene including Vetrano's phone that was found thrown from the crime scene, touch DNA from her neck and DNA from her fingernails. All of the DNA was identified as from the same individual, however no hits have turned up in the local, state or federal DNA database.
“So far nothing on that,” Boyce said. “That has limitations so we're working outside those limitations to identify that person.”
Working outside those limitations include asking arrested individuals for DNA sample and testing abandonment samples from major criminals. That DNA is put into a local database and not the state or federal ones because there's no conviction.