CHOP doctor Melissa Ketunuti was one of six homicide victims this weekend

Melissa Kentunuti, 35, in a med school graduation photo she posted on her blog.
KENTUNUTI.BLOGSPOT.COM

Fresh from a cardiothoracic surgery internship at Georgetown University Hospital five years ago, Melissa Ketunuti moved to Philadelphia. By all accounts, the bright young Stanford University School of Medicine graduate was eager to make a difference.

“I’m now starting a residency in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (I just couldn’t get enough of internship[s] so I had to do another),” the woman wrote on her blog, saying that she hoped to set down roots in the city.

“The CHOP pediatrics program, aside from being one of the largest in the country (40 something residents per year), is an incredibly supportive program. People are rooting for my success and education, which is a very different vibe than at Georgetown.”

But the 35-year-old’s life was cut tragically short on Monday afternoon when, according to police, someone bound her hands and feet behind her back, strangled her with a rope and set her body on fire in the basement of her home on the 1700 block of Naudain Street in Southwest Center City.

Ketunuti’s dog walker discovered the grisly scene around 12:30 p.m. Police said there were no signs of forced entry into the home, but they are unsure whether Ketunuti knew her attackers.

“We don’t know if she walked in on individuals inside her property,” Capt. James Clark of the Homicide Unit said yesterday. “We don’t know if individuals forced her inside of her property. We don’t know if it’s a known doer or an unknown doer. Right now, we don’t know.”

Ketunuti lived alone. She was in a relationship, but her boyfriend has spoken with detectives and is not a suspect at this time, according to police.

As with any homicide, there is a $20,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of anyone involved in Ketunuti’s slaying.

“You have a young lady, she was [35] years of age, she had dedicated her whole life to being a doctor and to helping kids with cancer,” Clark said. “And it’s very, very unfortunate that she died this way.”

Motive still unknown

Clark said Ketunuti had visited several locations in Center City on Monday before her death. “We’ve already backtracked two or three of them,” he said.

“So far, we don’t have anyone following her, but I have detectives back out there still looking at some other locations that we know that she possibly was at, looking for video that would possibly show her killing.”

Developer Ori Feibush, who owns a coffehouse on the 1700 block of South Street, said that he was impressed with investigators’ meticulous and thorough roundup of surveillance tape.

“Police were exceptionally diligent and focused on getting a video, not just from our place of business, but from every place of business within a fairly large area around the property there,” he said.

“They had the proper equipment to download video, they were going store-by-store, they had a very clean plan and approach and they were able to secure any and all video surveillance available.”

It is unclear whether robbery is a possibility. “We have detectives back out there now with some people who are familiar with her and familiar with what she has in her house and then we’ll be able to answer that question,” Clark said. “Right now, we don’t know whether anything was taken from the property.”

Five more victims during violent weekend

Ketunuti was one of six homicide victims over the weekend. According to police:

– Anthony Rongione, 44, and 52-year-old Michael Spering were on Friday fatally shot in the head shortly after 5 p.m. inside a home on the 600 block of Fitzgerald Street in South Philadelphia. Investigators believe the incident was a murder-suicide.

– Pablo Valdez, 56, was shot in the head at 8:30 p.m. Friday night during a home invasion on the 200 block of West Wyoming Avenue in Feltonville. Police are looking for two men seen fleeing the house wearing hoodies and masks.

– Tyree Thomas, 25, was shot twice in the chest around 5 a.m. Sunday morning inside a home on the 900 block of South Conestoga Street in Kingsessing.

– Antiquon Greer, 39, was shot twice in the head shortly before 7:45 p.m. Sunday night while sitting inside a car at Carlisle and Ogden streets in Francisville.

– A woman whose identity has not yet been determined was found stabbed to death in a lot on the 3500 block of Ruth Street in Kensington around 5:30 p.m. Monday evening. She was wearing only a shirt. A Medical Examiner’s investigation into her death was underway yesterday.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.