The husband and stepdaughter of a woman they claimed was killed by a panhandler have been arrested and accused staging her death.
In December of last year came reports that Jacquelyn Smith was stabbed to death by a panhandler in Baltimore. Now, police have not only confirmed that the claim was untrue but have arrested Smith’s husband and stepdaughter for her murder.
Keith Smith and Valeria Smith were arrested Sunday morning in Harlingen, Texas, near the Mexico border according to WBALTV 11. The pair was trying to flee the country.
“During the course of our investigation, we have developed evidence that Mr. Smith was leaving Maryland, so we made appropriate national notifications, and the Texas State Police arrested him this morning (Sunday),” Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said. “All of our investigators for both Keith and Valeria Smith, outlining the evidence in this case to a judge, who reviewed and signed the warrants for first-degree murder.”
The two were arraigned in Cameron County, Texas, Magistrate, and are being held without bond. They have been charged with nine open counts on an open warrant in Maryland, as well as first-degree murder.
“The information and the evidence points to it was not a panhandler,” Harrison said. “People took advantage of Baltimore.”
“In this particular case, oftentimes we have these negative depictions about our city, and it’s rather unfortunate when people take advantage of these negative perceptions,” Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said.
The incident took place back in December 2018. Both Keith and Valeria, who were with Smith when the alleged attack took place, claimed that she was riding in a car when she noticed a woman holding a sign that read, “please help me feed my baby” and carrying what appeared to be a baby.
When Smith gave the woman money a man reached into the car, grabbed Jacquelyn Smith’s wallet, stabbed her and ran away. She died later at a hospital.
“This girl actually said, ‘God bless you’ after the man stabbed Jacquelyn,” Keith had said to the media in December.
The story gained national attention, with Oprah Winfrey even taking to Twitter to share Smith’s story.
This story struck my heart. I’ve done this a 1k times. But will think twice before ever doing again. To J.S. family I hope her death gets people “woke” to change! https://t.co/ZbFqkLsdF9
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) December 4, 2018
“This story struck my heart. I’ve done this a 1k times. But will think twice before ever doing again,” Winfrey said at the time.
However, some of Smith’s family members had doubted the story. Speaking with The Baltimore Sun, her brother Marcel Trisvan said:
“I already know it’s Keith. All the questioning has been specific to Keith. That kind of sums it right there. It never made sense. I told [detectives] from the very beginning there are no suspects out there.”
Smith’s mother also echoed Trisvan while speaking with WBALTV 11. When asked if she thought Keith might be involved she said, “Oh yes…from the beginning. Jacquelyn was cautious, not stupid.”
Harrison would not speak on the motive behind the attack, calling it a “trial matter.”
The mayor’s office released a statement on Keith and Valeria’s arrest, saying:
“Like everyone in our city, state and across this nation, we mourned the senseless killing of Jacquelyn Smith. To now learn that family members staged this brutal killing is beyond belief and represents a double tragedy. They were responsible for taking Jacquelyn’s life with unconscionable cruelty and contrived to do so in our city under the guise of random violence, exploiting the legitimate fears of our residents. I commend our homicide detectives for their expert and tireless work in bringing those truly responsible to justice in this very troubling and sad case.”
Source: WBALTV 11