NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - A 20-year-old Brooklyn man remains in police custody after he was arraigned on second-degree murder charges in the strangulation death of a New York City woman out on a run last summer.
Chanel Lewis of East New York was ordered held without bail after his arraignment Sunday in Queens. He is due back in court Feb. 21.
Lewis had voluntarily submitted a DNA sample to police on Feb. 2, according to the NYPD. He was arrested days later when it came back as a match to the DNA under the victim's nails and cell phone.
"Everything we have revolves around one person," Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. "We only have one DNA profile in this case and that's him."
Vetrano, 30, went for a run on Aug. 2, 2016. When she didn't return home, her parents reported her missing. Her body was found in an undeveloped area near her home in Howard Beach. The autopsy showed she was raped and strangled.
Vetrano's parents and several family members were in the courtroom for the hearing.
"Now your nightmare begins," Cathy Vetrano reportedly said to Lewis in court.
"He is a great guy. He is not the person who they say. They are trying to bring the thing on him, but it is not so. It is not so. I know him. I know him well," said Richard Lewis, Chanel Lewis's father, to reporters outside the courtroom.
The arrest came a few days after Vetrano's parents called for the New York State Commission on Forensic Science to allow familial DNA matching in New York, which allows police to search the state and federal DNA database to see if a suspect's relative is in the system.
Boyce said the encounter that led to Vetrano's death was a chance one, and authorities did not believe she and Lewis knew each other.