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Bound, burned doctor found dead in Philly home

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm •  Published: January 22, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The search for clues continued Tuesday in the murder of a young doctor whose body was found bound and burned inside her home in a bustling downtown neighborhood, but investigators said they have not uncovered any substantial leads.

Firefighters responding to the home Monday afternoon found the body of Melissa Ketunuti, 35, on fire in the basement, with her ankles and wrists bound behind her and rope around her neck, Capt. James Clark of the Homicide Unit said. There was no sign of forced entry, he said.

"We don't know if she walked in on individuals inside of her property, we don't know if individuals forced her inside her property," or whether or not she knew her killer, Clark said.

Ketunuti was a second-year infectious diseases fellow and researcher at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She had been at the hospital for five years, having first served as a pediatric resident.

"Melissa was a warm, caring, earnest, bright young woman with her whole future ahead of her," said Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. "But more than that, she was admired, respected and loved by those with whom she worked here at CHOP."

Jeff Moran, a spokesman for the city medical examiner's office, said an autopsy was being conducted Tuesday. The official cause of death has not been determined but Clark said Ketunuti appeared to have died from strangulation.

Her body, so badly burned that she was unrecognizable, was discovered by her dog walker.

A preliminary investigation did not turn up anything missing from the home and it did not appear the victim was sexually assaulted, Clark said. He said Ketunuti's boyfriend, who was not identified by Clark, is not considered a suspect.

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