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Parents Of Queens Murder Victim Karina Vetrano Push For Familial DNA Testing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The parents of Queens murder victim Karina Vetrano issued a public plea to the state Thursday to allow a special kind of DNA testing to help catch their daughter's killer.

As CBS2's Jessica Layton reported, Vetrano was strangled when she went for a run alone in Spring Creek Park on Aug. 2 of last year. Later that night, her father found her body in the weeds.

Investigators found DNA on her body, but it did not match anyone in the data banks.

On Thursday, her parents – Phil and Cathy Vetrano -- and several elected officials gathered in Howard Beach to push the state to allow familial DNA testing. Investigators could see if a suspect's relative is in the DNA system, potentially leading them to the killer.

"This is the only thing I have to do," said Phil Vetrano, "so if I didn't have something to fight for, there'd be no reason to get up in the morning."

"I dare anyone that opposes this to have their child have fought and been murdered brutally and tell me there's any logical reason not to pursue this demon," said Cathy Vetrano.

The Vetrano family has gathered thousands of signatures on a petition to get the state to allow familial DNA testing. It is a deeper kind of DNA search than we are used to hearing about.

Familial DNA testing uses special software to look for similar but not exact match -- indicating the suspect could be related to somebody in the system. It is prudent at this point, because neither the family nor police still have any idea who strangled the 30-year-old while she was out on her nightly job Aug. 2.

Although it is controversial, familial DNA testing is conducted in a handful of other states. Members of the New York State Commission on Forensic Science is meeting next week to discuss whether to allow it.

At the rally Thursday, several state lawmakers pointed out that while they were standing talking about how to solve the case, Karina's killer was and is still out there.

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