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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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