By Selena Hill (staff@latinospost.com) | First Posted: Jan 24, 2013 06:54 PM EST
Tags murder

Melissa Ketunuti

In a chilling and brutal murder, Philadelphia pediatrician Melissa Ketunuti was killed in her home by a man named Jason Smith who was arrested and charged today for strangling and burning the victim to death.

Capt. James Clark of the Philadelphia police department announced that Smith, a 36-year-old exterminator, came to Ketunuti's home on a service call where the two reportedly got into an argument. He struck the 35-year-old doctor and then proceed to strangle her to death, tie her up and then burn her body to destroy the evidence.

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"At her home they got into an argument. It went terribly wrong. He struck her, and knocked her to the ground," Clark said. "Immediately he jumped on top of her, started strangling her. She passed out, and then he set her body on fire."

The police were called around 12:30 pm on Monday and that's when they found Ketunuti's body. Cops used neighborhood surveillance videos to identify the suspect who was recorded entering into her home. He was also seen circling her home once he committed the crime.

Ketunuti was a doctor at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and had lived alone in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood of the city for about three years.

Before the arrest, Smith had a clean record which only included minor traffic offenses and he lived in Levittown, Pa. with his girlfriend and her child. He will be charged with murder, arson, and abuse of a corpse.

On Tuesday, Ketunuti's hospital issued a statement saying that she was "a warm, caring, earnest, bright young woman with her whole future ahead of her" who will be deeply missed.

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