PHILADELPHIA – The parents of a young Philadelphia doctor allegedly killed in her home by an exterminator said Friday their daughter was a "dedicated physician" whose death has left "an enormous gap" in their lives.
An emailed statement from a spokeswoman for Dr. Melissa Ketunuti's parents said the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia researcher's loved ones "are devastated by this senseless act of violence that has ended the life of someone who was so loved, cherished and admired."
"Melissa was a source of joy to everyone in her life," said the statement released Friday.
The family spokeswoman, Manisha Pai, who once Ketunuti's college roommate, said the parents don't want to be mentioned by name and are asking for privacy. They arrived in Philadelphia from their home in Thailand on Friday.
A man hired to deal with a mouse problem in Ketunuti's downtown row home is charged with strangling her with a rope after they got into an argument in her basement, then tying her up and setting her body on fire.
Jason Smith, 36, of suburban Levittown admitted to the crime, according to police. He is being held without bail on charges of murder, arson, abuse of a corpse and risking a catastrophe.