Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Exterminator charged with strangling Philly doctor State university talks stalled Lawyer: Sex accuser is lying
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 Capt. James Clark said at a news conference.
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.
"She needed an exterminator, she called a certain service, he was subcontracted out," Clark said. "They got into some type of argument. It went terribly wrong."
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 home of the victim, whose body was bound with rope at her wrists and ankles and wrapped around her neck, police said.
HARRISBURG -- The board chairman of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities and a union leader speaking for 6,000 faculty members on Thursday each accused the other side of being unreasonable in their stalled contract negotiations.
Hundreds of protesting educators, including many who rode buses from distant campuses, waved placards and chanted "Contract Now!" outside the State System of Higher Education headquarters while the system's board of governors held its quarterly meeting.
Dozens of faculty members left the picket line to attend the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting that was devoted to the contract talks.
PHILADELPHIA -- An awkward, vision-impaired former Catholic school teacher was an easy target for a false rape claim made by a longtime heroin addict "gaming the system" to get money, a defense lawyer argued Thursday in a Philadelphia priest-abuse trial.
The 24-year-old accuser disclosed in drug treatment in 2009 that he had been raped as a boy by two priests and sixth-grade teacher Bernard Shero.
Philadelphia prosecutors relied on the troubled young man's story to file an explosive 2011 grand jury report. They charged the three men with passing the boy around, but also filed then-unprecedented charges against a church official for sending accused priests to new assignments.
The church official, Monsignor William Lynn, was convicted at trial last year.
From our wire services.