In August of last year,, 30, was murdered while out for an afternoon run. Six months later, her killer is still at large. Vetrano’s killing sent shockwaves through her tight-knit community of Howard Beach, in South Queens. This Friday, NYS Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, representative for Howard Beach and surrounding communities, will ask the State Commission on Forensic Science (SCFS), to change the law so investigators can use familial DNA matching, or “FM,” in pursuit of new suspects.
Pheffer Amato notes that the cutting-edge tactic, which builds a “family tree” map that can provide investigators with new leads, has been instrumental in closing several high-profile murder cases over the past decade. New York State’s laws are ambiguous on the tool, which makes prosecutors extremely reluctant to use it, lest cases are thrown out or overturned on appeal. The number of states that allow FM is nine, and Pheffer Amato is lobbying for New York State to become the tenth.
“As a mother and daughter,” says Pheffer Amato, “I’m unfortunately very cognizant that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to face prison than other criminals. As an elected official, I must look out for victims, their families and the whole community. The Vetrano family and so many others in my district continue to face the daily struggles of loss, made worse by the fact that Karina’s killer is yet to be found. In order to promote justice, to ease the pain of family and community members and to protect against an active threat to everyone’s safety, I strongly urge the SCFS to allow use of familial DNA searching in this case, and in all cases moving forward.”
Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato is encouraging those who are impacted and have opinions on the use of FM to join her this Friday, February 10th, 2017, at the Division of Criminal Justice Services, Office of Forensic Services, at NYC ADDRESS. The hearing will run from 9 AM to 5 PM. Pheffer Amato will be giving testimony at a time to be determined. Though the window for submitting public comment is closed, constituents and other interested parties are encouraged to contact the Assemblywoman’s office with input on the matter, at (718)-945-9550.