How Video And Great Detective Work Cracked Doctor Murder Case - New York News

How Video And Great Detective Work Cracked Doctor Murder Case

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Jason Smith, 36, is accused of killing Dr. Melissa Ketunuti Monday. (Courtesy: Philadelphia Police Department) Jason Smith, 36, is accused of killing Dr. Melissa Ketunuti Monday. (Courtesy: Philadelphia Police Department)
Dr. Melissa Ketunuti's body was found burning inside her Center City home Monday. Dr. Melissa Ketunuti's body was found burning inside her Center City home Monday.

"We found video of him on the block." That's how homicide detectives say they were lead to 36-year-old exterminator Jason Smith.

Surveillance cameras at the OCF Coffee Shop at 18th and South and a camera on a local hospital at 18th and Naudain caught Smith on tape following Dr. Melissa Ketunuti minutes before her murder.

"What we saw was the eventual suspect actually following about 30 seconds behind the decedent down 18th Street and then onto Naudain Street, said Captain James Clark of the Homicide Unit.

Ori Feibush from OCF Realty and the OCF Coffee Shop helped police download the video that cracked the case.

"I don't think anyone could believe what they were looking at there, it was so crystal clear," he said. "He crossed directly in front of a very powerful camera and looked right up at the camera."

Police say when Smith parked his Ford F-150 silver pickup on 18th Street, he was headed to Ketunuti's home for an 11 a.m. appointment to get rid of some rodents.

Once inside, "They got into some type of argument. It went terribly wrong at that point he struck her while she was in the basement, knocked her down, strangled her to death and ultimately set her body on fire," Clark explained at a morning news conference.

Homicide detectives say Smith's telephone number was on the victim's phone. They traced that back to Smith and took him into custody at his Levittown home Wednesday night. Investigators found rope in his house similar to the rope around Ketunuti's neck, feet and hands. Smith is also charged with setting her body on fire.

"He was attempting to hide the evidence or whatever, DNA we may or may not be able to get," Clark said.

"You're scared," said one neighbor.

Ketunuti's neighbors expressed relief that the alleged killer was behind bars and off the streets.

"What kind of sick man would do this," said Tara Chizik.

"Congratulations to the police, they did a beautiful job," said neighbor Victor Pisani. "I didn't expect them to work that fast."

"We're absolutely grateful they caught the guy so quickly," Feibush said. "It's insane that something like that could happen over here."

Police say they also have video of Smith in his truck driving down the block past the murder scene twice after the fact. They say he cold heartedly went to another exterminating job in South Jersey right after he allegedly killed Ketunuti.

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