Karina Vetrano's family marks one year since her murder in Howard Beach

HOWARD BEACH, Queens (WABC) -- One year ago, Karina Vetrano left her home, the very same place that now is a shine to the 30-year-old.

Dressed in white, friends and family gathered there to pay tribute to Karina.

On the eve of this very emotional day, Karina's dad, Phil, took Eyewitness News Reporter Kemberly Richardson to the same spot in Nearby Spring Creek Park.

"It doesn't get any better, doesn't get any worse," Phil said. "She actually called this her happy place."

It's where Karina took what would be her final jog.

"Last year it was three-feet wide," Phil said.

It was the first time Phil had taken a television camera to the spot where police say Chanel Lewis strangled Karina.

That hot summer night, Phil knew something was wrong when Karina had not returned home. He called police.

There was a massive search.

Detectives pinged Karina's cell, which sent them there, and Phil tagged along.

"I'm here and I just decide to walk right in there, OK, so how do you explain that, only one explanation, Karina needed me to find her, there's no question about it," Phil said.

Phil found Karina dead in the brush.

But he turned what was such a dark place into a serene garden.

"This is the little oasis," Phil said.

Phil built this memorial as a tribute to his youngest daughter.

The area contains some of her favorite things, reminders of who she was and who she could have been.

"When I'm there, I find a little bit of peace, maybe because it's the only place I have any control, there's no control anywhere else," Phil said.
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