Police have charged a Baltimore woman’s husband and stepdaughter with her murder instead of the panhandler the two initially claimed stabbed her through a rolled-down car window.
Keith Smith, 52, and daughter Valeria Smith, 28 were picked up in Texas on Saturday just as they were about to cross into Mexico, police told the Baltimore Sun.
Jacquelyn Smith’s family had never quite believed the husband’s account, the Baltimore Sun reported.
“I already know it’s Keith,” her brother, Marcel Trisvan, told the Sun. “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.”
He also said that two weeks earlier, Keith Smith had handed him the keys to the couple’s home, which Jacquelyn owned, saying he was moving to Florida. He took out all the appliances, her brother said.
People in the neighborhood where the killing took place also did not believe the account, according to reports. A neighbor who did not want their name released said the block is usually empty at the hour the crime allegedly took place, and that no one had seen a couple matching the husband’s description.
“Everybody in the neighborhood said something’s wrong with it,” the neighbor told the Sun of the so-called panhandling woman and her baby. “I don’t know what happened. Nobody around here knew her.”
The case had gripped the Baltimore area for its tragedy, and even caught the attention of media mogul Oprah Winfrey.
Jacquelyn Smith, 54, was driving home from a family birthday celebration with her husband, Keith Smith, 52, when she rolled down her window to give a woman money, the tearful husband and stepdaughter had told police. Keith Smith told police the woman was carrying a sign asking for help feeding her baby.
After Smith gave them money, a black man approached as if to thank her, but instead grabbed her wallet and necklace, and stabbed her, the husband told police at the time. Jacquelyn Smith was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Hospital about two hours later.
Police warned motorists and others to be careful when responding to such requests.
The incident gave the most generous benefactors pause. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey tweeted that the story “struck my heart,” and that, having given money “a 1k times,” she was going to “think twice before ever doing again.”
Keith Smith had provided a detailed description of the two to ABC News back in December, when the alleged attack happened. He said the woman was in her 20s, about 5 feet tall with “medium brown” skin. Her companion, he told the network, was black, 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a goatee and clad in a black hoodie.
“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,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement Sunday, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“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.”
We definitely didn’t see that coming.