Cops: Slain pediatrician was strangled

The pediatrician who was found dead, bound and burning, in her Center City home Monday afternoon had been strangled, police said this morning.

Melissa Ketunuti, 35, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, was not dead long when her dog-walker found her in the basement of her home on Naudain Street near 17th, Capt. James Clark of the homicide unit said in a morning news conference at police headquarters. Neither the dog-walker nor Ketunuti's boyfriend are considered suspects in her slaying, Clark added.

Investigators don't know if she was killed by a stranger or someone she knew, or if her killer walked into Ketunuti's home with her, or if she surprised the killer in her home when she came home from a morning of shopping, Clark said. Detectives are retracing her steps and visiting area residents and merchants in search of surveillance tape that could help crack the mystery, he added. Police found no sign of forced entry, but Clark declined to say whether there appeared to be a struggle. Detectives do not believe she was sexually assaulted, he added.

Investigators don't believe Ketunuti had any simmering disputes with anyone, Clark said. He said he was unsure if anything had been stolen from her home. 

Clark appealed to the public for tips to help solve the crime. Tipsters can call detectives at (215) 686-3334 or -3335. The city is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the killer's capture and conviction. Ketunuti was one of five homicides in Philly over the holiday weekend.

Ketunuti moved into her home about three years ago and was known by neighbors as a pleasant young woman devoted to her work, fitness and her dog Pooch, a black lab mix.