Police Charge Levittown Man With CHOP Doctor's Murder - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Police Charge Levittown Man With CHOP Doctor's Murder

Posted: Updated:
PHILADELPHIA -

Police sources tell FOX 29 that investigators have charged a Levittown man with the murder of a pediatric doctor in Center City.

Philadelphia homicide detectives obtained search warrants around 8 p.m. Wednesday, went to Levittown, Bucks County, and took 36-year old Jason Smith into custody and brought him downtown around 11 p.m., sources say.

The body of 35-year-old Dr. Melissa Ketunuti was found Monday in the basement of her Naudain Street home.

Police say she had been strangled, and her body was set on fire with her hands and feet tide behind her back lying face down.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia doctor returned to her home near Rittenhouse Square just before noon Monday after running errands. A short time later, her dog walker arrived at the house and found her body on fire in the basement.

After the discovery, police scoured through hours of surveillance video from cameras throughout the area,

FOX 29's Dave Schratwieser reported Wednesday night that video was the key to a break in the case. Both the person of interest and his truck were captured on the footage, and that led police to obtain their warrants.

Police traced back Ketunuti's final moments and, with that surveillance video from nearby businesses, were able to pinpoint the exact time of her murder to a one-hour period Monday morning, about 40 minutes before her body was found.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the person of interest is a 36-year-old exterminator who had a job in Ketunuti's Center City neighborhood, saw her running errands Monday morning and followed her home. The Levittown man is apparently caught on video walking, following her and then also driving his silver Ford pickup truck by her home after she was dead.

When police were waiting there to execute their search warrant Wednesday night, the Bucks County Courier Times reports that someone in the guy's house let a dog out. The dog ran down the steps, ready to attack, then police fired shots at the dog. No people were hit by any of the shots.

Police say no police officers were injured but have not commented on the dog's condition.

The Inquirer reports that the man lives in the house with his girlfriend, a child and the girlfriend's step-father. The house and the truck were searched, and even the family trash cans were looked through.

The pickup truck was taken from the Levittown home soon after Smith was taken downtown.

Arriving to work Thursday morning and about to get an update from homicide investigators, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said he couldn't comment on specifics in the case.

But on his way into the roundhouse Ramsey spoke in general about what a key surveillance video can be.

"Well, I can't tell you how important video is," Ramsey said. "Video has just been absolutely remarkable when it comes to helping us solve cases. And, you know, we're fortunate to be able to sometimes recover video when there would be no other clues, quite frankly, that we would have available to us. Video can be the one thing that can solve a case."

FOX 29's Steve Keeley is reporting live all morning from outside the roundhouse.

Meanwhile, Ketunuti's family was reported to be traveling from Thailand to Philadelphia.

Stay with FOX 29 News and myfoxphilly.com for updates.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • BREAK FROM HEAT

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 8:15 PM EDT2014-08-28 00:15:38 GMT

    Thursday (83/68): Sun

    Lower Humidity, Not as Hot

    Thursday is going to feature mostly sunny skies and lower humidity. There will be a pleasant NW breeze around 10 mph.  High 83. Enjoy.

     

    The holiday weekend is looking warmer and unsettled. Shower and thunderstorm chances increaselate Sunday and Labor Day.

  • Police: Thieves Posed As Cops, Stole $100K From Distribution Center

    Police: Thieves Posed As Cops, Stole $100K From Distribution Center

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-08-27 21:50:10 GMT
    Police are investigating a six-figure robbery at a distribution center in the city's Fishtown section. They say two thieves made their way in posing as cops.It appears the suspects knew where the place was, and knew how the operation was once they got inside.Chief Inspector Scott Small told reporters that police were called to the Kawa Food Distribution Center in the Fishtown section north of the city center shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday.Investigators said the center was preparing to open wh...
    Police are investigating a six-figure robbery at a distribution center in the city's Fishtown section. They say two thieves made their way in posing as cops.It appears the suspects knew where the place was, and knew how the operation was once they got inside.Chief Inspector Scott Small told reporters that police were called to the Kawa Food Distribution Center in the Fishtown section north of the city center shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday.Investigators said the center was preparing to open wh...
  • Police: Man kills wife, wounds self at New Jersey hospital

    Police: Man kills wife, wounds self at New Jersey hospital

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 5:46 PM EDT2014-08-27 21:46:10 GMT
    Authorities say a man shot and killed his wife, then shot himself at a New Jersey hospital around 9:25 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
    Authorities say a man shot and killed his wife, then shot himself at a New Jersey hospital around 9:25 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Powered by WorldNow

WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
485 S. Highland St.
Memphis, TN 38111

Main Station: (901) 320-1313
Newsroom: (901) 320-1340

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices