Philadelphia Exterminator Jason Smith Charged In Doctor’s Killing

Exterminator extraordinaire Greg Grunberg contends with Big Ass Spider!

24, 2013. Philadelphia Police Department/AP Photo An exterminator named Jason Smith was arrested and charged today in the strangling and burning death of Philadelphia pediatrician Melissa Ketunuti. Smith, 36, had been sent to Ketunuti’s home on a service call where the two got into “some kind of argument” in Ketunuti’s basement on Monday, Capt. James Clark of the Philadelphia police department said this morning. “At her home they got into an argument. It went terribly wrong. He struck her, and knocked her to the ground,” Clark said. “Immediately he jumped on top of her, started strangling her. She passed out, and then he set her body on fire.” Clark said Smith burned the woman’s body “to hide evidence like DNA.” He said “at some point, he bound her up.” The doctor was found with her hands and feet tied behind her back. The captain said that before today’s arrest Smith’s record consisted of only “minor traffic offenses.” Police received a call from Ketunuti’s dog-walker about the house fire around 12:30 p.m. Monday, and once inside found Ketunuti with her hands and feet bound. They believe Smith hit her and strangled her with a rope, causing her to pass out, and then bound her body and set fire to it in order to destroy evidence, including DNA evidence. Ketunuti, 35, was fully clothed and police do not believe she was sexually assaulted. She was a doctor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and had lived alone in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood of the city for about three years. Clark said that homicide detectives scoured the neighborhood for surveillance videos from nearby stores and businesses, and through the video identified the suspect. Smith was spotted on video getting out of the vehicle and following Ketunuti to her home. The man left her home after an hour and was seen on video circling her home. Detectives drove to Clark’s home in Levittown, Pa., outside of Philadelphia where he lives with a girlfriend and her child, on Wednesday night and brought him back to the Philadelphia police station. A silver Ford truck was towed from Smith’s home, which was the same truck spotted on surveillance video Monday in Ketunuti’s neighborhood, sources told ABC News affiliate WPVI. There, he gave statements that led police to charge him with the murders, Clark said.
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Karly Brandt (Clare Kramer), one those aforementioned military authorities constantly at odds with Alex. When the project first came Grunbergs way, it was titled Mega-Spider and was, he says, much more straightforward. The Alex Mathis character was still an exterminator and still the hero, and did have a sense of humor. Immediately, says Grunberg, he saw the projects potential, particularly if it were played for laughs as much for scares. If theres something that draws your attention, and there was something there I found the character relate-able and funny. But I wanted to do something different. He relayed his enthusiasm and his opinion to the producers at Epic Pictures and director Mike Mendez, and found both willing to listen and approach the story in a more comedic way. Everything clicked, Grunberg recalls. Everyone saw the potential. We knew this could be something special. This is a really talented director and I cant stress this enough: Mike had a singular vision that he really brought to this. He just had his homework done. Grunberg came aboard the project as both leading man and co-producer. Id worked with Lombardo before on a film Id written, Group Sex, and I knew hed be perfect for this. The film is peppered with in-jokes and cameo appearances, including Troma Films founder Lloyd Kaufman, Fangoria creator Kerry OQuinn and genre favorite Lin Shaye (Insidious, Snakes on a Plane), as well as Wise, himself an icon due to his roles in Swamp Thing (1982), RoboCop (1987), Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003) and David Lynchs Twin Peaks. Although he doesnt consider himself a traditional method actor, Grunberg found an easy way to glean research. As a long-term customer of Western Exterminators, I asked my guy Can I go along? I actually did. He said Sure, and we went to a couple of houses. I learned how to use the hose properly. Now most audiences watching those scenes wont know that, but I know it. Many creature features premiere on home-video or cable (Syfy, anyone?), but Big-Ass Spider! earned good advance word at film festivals, including SXSW, and received a limited theatrical release in major markets just before Halloween, where it found favor with critics and audiences alike. Grunberg grew up a genre fan. One of his closest friends is filmmaker JJ Abrams, with whom hes worked on Felicity, Alias and Lost, as well as Abrams feature films Mission: Impossible III (2006) and Star Trek (2009).
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