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Philadelphia probes killing of doctor who was bound, set ablaze

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Homicide detectives on Tuesday combed the Philadelphia neighborhood where a doctor was found dead, tied up and set on fire in her home.

"We have detectives out at the scene, re-canvassing the area, looking for (surveillance) video, talking to neighbors," said Police Captain James Clark, head of the homicide squad.

He said the autopsy report was not completed but he believes that Melissa Ketunuti, 35, was strangled on Monday in the basement of her home in the Center City neighborhood.

"Her hands and feet had been bound behind her with some type of rope," Clark said. "There was some type of rope around her neck, which right now appears to be the cause of death, strangulation. And her body was set on fire."

Ketunuti was a second-year infectious diseases fellow and researcher at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

In a blog she kept from 2005 to 2008, she wrote extensively about her travels to Bangkok with her parents and about her 2007 graduation from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

She also had posted a photo of her dog Pooch, who was in the home when police arrived.

"Melissa was a warm, caring, earnest bright young woman with her whole future ahead of her," said Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the hospital's infectious diseases division.

"But more than that, she was admired, respected and loved by those with whom she worked here at CHOP," Offit said.

He said police do not yet know if Ketunuti was followed home by someone, or if she walked in on someone who was already in her apartment. She lived alone.

Clark said she had a boyfriend whom police had talked to but "as of right now he is not a suspect."

"We are asking for the public's help if anyone has any information was this brutal murder," Clark said.

(Editing by Jane Sutton; Editing by David Gregorio)

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