Friends, Family Say Murder Suspect Was Troubled
Several who knew Crabtree resident Jason Smith, who is accused of murdering a Philadelphia doctor, say he had temper issues in his past.
Prior to his arrest on charges of murder last week, Levittown pest exterminator Jason Smith had a relatively clean criminal record. However, several people close to the 36-year-old father said he had a somewhat troubled past.
A former friend of Smith’s who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Patch that the Crabtree section resident could have a temper, but murder was not something he felt his old friend was capable of.
Smith's fiance, who shared the two-story Crabtree section house with him, her young daughter and other family members, told 6abc the whole family is upset and knew nothing about the her partner of six year's alleged crime until authorities took him away and shot the family dog Wednesday night.
On the WebSlueths.com message board, a user who identified herself as the ex-wife of Smith’s brother wrote a post on her reaction to the arrest of her ex-brother-in-law. The website is a true-crime discussion website.
“To be honest, as shocked as I am, I am not surprised. He has had issues for many years,” the poster wrote. “I also would not be surprised if he becomes a real suspect in other crimes.”
According 6abc.com, a friend of the suspect said Smith was fond of setting things on fire. The former friend Patch spoke with confirmed the contents of the 6abc report but failed to elaborate on specifics.
A source close to Smith’s family said the suspect had lost his temper in the past and has a juvenile record. The court records from Smith’s youth are sealed.
In a phone interview with NBC 10 reporter Deanna Durante, Smith’s cousin, George, said the 36-year-old suffers from “mental issues and substance abuse issues.”
Smith’s next-door Crescent Lane neighbor said the suspect was a always helpful and a "nice guy."
Angie’s List reviews of the Newtown pest control company that Smith subcontracted for even featured glowing reviews of an employee named Jason. It has not been confirmed if the reviews are referring to Jason Smith.
“If I ever need an exterminator again, I know exactly who I will be calling!” one Angie’s List review discovered by PhillyMag.com said of Jason.
Smith, according to media reports, confessed to brutally murdering and then burning the hogtied body of 35-year-old Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia doctor Melissa Ketunuti shortly after being taken into custody in Bristol Township on Wednesday. Philadelphia police said the incident started when an argument between the doctor and exterminator went “terribly wrong.”
"People like Mr. Smith basically walk around with a huge chip on their shoulders, and they feel so inadequate and insecure that at any perceived belittlement of them will set them off," former FBI Special Agent Brad Garrett said on ABC’s Good Morning America.
Questions on what the fatal argument was about still linger and police have not yet released those details.
Smith was arraigned late Thursday and is being held without bail on charges of murder, arson, abuse of a corpse and risking a catastrophe.
The same evening that Smith was arraigned in Philadelphia, friends and collugues of the victim gathered near her home to hold a vigil and share their memories.
"Melissa was a source of joy to everyone in her life. Her passing has left an enormous gap in our lives, and the family requests privacy to mourn during this difficult time," read a statement released Friday by the young doctor's family.