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Exterminator charged with strangling Philly doctor

PHILADELPHIA — A suburban exterminator has been charged with strangling a young Philadelphia doctor found bound and burned in her downtown row home, police announced Thursday.

Jason Smith, 36, was arrested Wednesday night at his home in Levittown, about 25 miles northeast of the city, ­homicide unit Captain James Clark said at a news conference.

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Smith was charged with murder, arson, abuse of a corpse, and risking a catastrophe in the slaying of Dr. Melissa Ketunuti, 35, on Monday afternoon. He had no prior criminal record other than ‘‘minor traffic offenses,’’ Clark said.

Smith ‘‘struck her while she was in the basement, knocked her down, strangled her to death, and ultimately set her body on fire’’ in an apparent attempt to hide evidence, Clark said. There were no signs of sexual assault and nothing was stolen from the victim, whose body was bound with rope at her wrists and ankles and wrapped around her neck, police said.

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