Exterminator Charged With Murder of Woman Who Trusted Him in Her House

Jason SmithLadies, one of our biggest fears has been realized. An exterminator has been charged with murder after allegedly strangling a woman who'd let him into her home to do a job. Melissa Ketunuti was a smart, successful Philadelphia pediatrician and researcher, but she was no match for the man who treated her as if she was just another mouse he was exterminating. 

The doctor's tragic death highlights a fear for women across the country: when we open our doors to service people, to strange men who are coming into our homes to do work, are we taking our lives into our own hands? Could the guy coming to fix our shutters or install the new dishwasher be another Jason Smith, a guy who allegedly fought with Ketunuti over how he'd done his exterminating work, then killed her?


It's a question I've asked myself numerous times over the years. I work at home, so it would make no sense to ask my husband to take time off of work to be here when the cable guy is coming or when we get an appliance delivery.

And yet, I'm not without trepidation when I open the door to a stranger. I'm a woman alone. I have four years of karate training under my belt and two dogs, but is that enough if some guy turns out to be more than just the guy delivering my dryer?

Could I be the next Melissa Ketunuti, allegedly hog-tied by the exterminator, strangled, and set on fire in her own basement, the basement he was supposed to be ridding of mice?

Some things can be controlled. I always check references of contractors, and if possible go with a friend (the dumb luck of hiring a teenage babysitter whose dad happens to clean furnaces serves me quite well come furnace-cleaning time every fall!). I also tend to hold onto the phone -- or keep it nearby -- when we're getting a delivery, so that I can call 911 immediately if something goes awry.

But sometimes you have to take the risk and hope that you won't be inviting an animal into your house.

What do you do to keep yourself safe when a stranger comes to do work in your home?


Image via Philadelphia Police

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