Exterminator Charged in CHOP Dr. Murder "Just Snapped"

Police have charged 36-year-old Jason T. Smith with strangling Melissa Ketunuti to death and setting her body on fire.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police sources say they have arrested and charged 36-year-old Jason Smith in the horrific murder of Dr. Melissa Ketunuti. Smith was an exterminator who says he "just snapped" after an argument with the doctor. NBC10's Tim Furlong reports with the latest. (Published Thursday, Jan 24, 2013)

    A Bucks County exterminator has been charged in the murder of a 35-year-old pediatrician.

    Philadelphia Police say Jason T. Smith, 36, of Levittown confessed to killing Dr. Melissa Ketunuti, a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

    Police say when Smith showed up to service her Center City home for a rodent problem on Monday, the two had an argument in the basement, that went "horribly wrong."

    How CHOP Doctor's Phone Helped Police Find Accused Killer

    [PHI] How CHOP Doctor's Phone Helped Police Find Accused Killer
    Police say records from Dr. Melissa Ketunuti's cell phone showed a call from the 36-year-old exterminator, Jason Smith. The Bucks County man reportedly confessed to the killing of the CHOP pediatrician. NBC10's Lu Ann Cahn reports. (Published Thursday, Jan 24, 2013)

    During his confession, Smith admitted he "just snapped," according to a police source.

    He confessed to striking her and knocking her to the ground. Police say he strangled her with a rope and at some point tied her arms and feet behind her back.

    Smith told them he panicked and tried to hide the evidence by burning her body with a liquid accelerant, according to a police source.

    Smith was taken into custody Wednesday night at his Levittown home, that he shares with his girlfriend and small child.

    Search Continues for CHOP Doc's Killer

    [PHI] Search Continues for CHOP Doc's Killer
    Police are appealing for the public's help after a young doctor is strangled and set on fire. Investigators don't know if 35-year old Melissa Ketunuti knew her attacker or was a random target. (Published Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013)

    After being taken into questioning by officers, Crime Scene Investigators spent a considerable amount of time searching the suspect's Cresent Lane home. They also impounded his truck, a Ford F150 overnight.

    Smith is charged with murder, abuse of a corpse, risking arson, and risking a catastrophe.

    Man Questioned in Death of CHOP Doc: Sources

    [PHI] Bucks Co Man Questioned in Death of CHOP Doc: Sources
    Police are questioning a 37-year-old Levitown man in connection with the brutal murder of Melissa Ketunuti, a 35-year-old doctor at CHOP. (Published Thursday, Jan 24, 2013)

    He only has minor traffic offenses on his record, according to police.

    Ketunuti was found dead on Monday, burning in the basement of her house on Naudain Street in Center City.

    "You have a young physician that had dedicated her life to helping people and to die in this tragic manner, it's very, very sad," said Captain James Clark, Philadelphia Police.

    Police say that her hands and feet were bound and there was a rope around her neck. An autopsy confirmed on Tuesday that the cause of death was strangulation.

    Police say Ketunudi's family is trying to make their way over to the U.S. from Thailand.