Police Seek Public's Help In Doctor's Strangulation, Burning - New York News

Police Seek Public's Help In CHOP Doctor's Strangulation, Burning

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PHILADELPHIA -

An autopsy is being performed Tuesday on a local pediatric doctor whose body was found tied up and set on fire inside the basement of her home in Center City.

In a statement to the media Tuesday morning, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia confirmed the death of Dr. Melissa Ketunuti.

Police said officers were called out Monday at 12:30 p.m. for a report of a fire on the 1700 block of Naudain Street.

There, 34-year-old Ketunuti's body was found in the basement, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

"Her hands and feet had been bound behind her with some type of rope. There was some type of rope around her neck which right now appears to be the cause of death, strangulation, and her body was set on fire," said Capt. James Clark, commander of the police force's homicide unit.

"We are asking for the public's help if anyone has any information about this brutal murder," Clark said, urging anyone to call the homicide unit at 215-686-3334.

Police previously indicated that there were no signs of forced entry.

So Clark said they are looking into whether she might have walked in on individuals inside her property or whether someone might have forced her inside.

"We don't know if it's a known doer or an unknown doer," Clark said. "… We have detectives back out at the scene, re-canvassing the area, looking for video, talking to neighbors. So, we're hopeful that, with all of those things we're doing, that we will come up with a possible suspect."

According to the hospital, Ketunuti was a second-year infectious diseases fellow and researcher. She had been at CHOP for five years, having first served as a resident in the Department of Pediatrics.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, colleagues and friends at this difficult time," the hospital said in the statement.

Paul Offit, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, added, "Melissa was a warm, caring, earnest, bright young woman with her whole future ahead of her. But more than that, she was admired, respected and loved by those with whom she worked here at CHOP. Her death will have a profound impact on those who worked with her and we will all miss her deeply."

Police said there is a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in any of the six homicides that occurred in the city over the weekend.

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