April 18, 2024

Husband and stepdaughter nabbed for the murder of Jacquelyn Smith

Baltimore Police thegrio.com
Baltimore Police on the job (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The heartbreaking story went national: A Baltimore woman was fatally stabbed in December after her husband claimed she gave money to a panhandler. Now police say the story was concocted by the husband and his daughter, who have both been charged in her death.

Texas state police arrested Keith Smith and his daughter, Valeria Smith, on Sunday near the United States and Mexico border while they were allegedly attempting to leave the country, acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison told The Baltimore Sun during a press conference.

Read More: Family and friends gather to remember Jacquelyn Smith — Baltimore woman fatally stabbed by panhandler

Both Keith, 52, and Valeria, 28, were charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jacquelyn Smith, 54, who was Keith Smith’s wife.

“The information and evidence points it wasn’t a panhandler,” Harrison told The Sun.

According to police, Jacquelyn was stabbed to death just after midnight on Dec. 1 at North Valley and East Chase streets.

Keith and his daughter created Smollett-like story and ruse to distract the public from their heinous crime. The duo staged a press conference a few days after Jacquelyn’s murder, and appeared to be broken up and mournful. There story tugged at the heart of the nation, as people envisioned a homeless woman with a baby approaching the family’s vehicle asking for money. With tears in their eyes, they recounted how Smith moments after she gave the woman money, a man came up to the car pretending to thank her but instead assaulted her. The story detailed how he reached into the vehicle, snatched Jacquelyn’s necklace & pocketbook, and proceeded to stabbed her to death.

Read More: Family believes religious cult led mother and daughter to murder 5 relatives

Not everyone believed the story. Jacquelyn Smith’s brother, Marcel Trisvan told The Sun that he knew Keith was responsible. In addition, Trisvan said police were asking family members a lot of questions about the nature of the pair’s relationship.

“All the questioning has been specific to Keith. That kind of sums it right there,” Trisvan told The Sun. “It never made sense. I told [detectives] from the very beginning there are no suspects out there.”

Keith and Valeria were arrested by the Texas state troopers. The Baltimore police suspected that the two might be headed that way and tipped the Texas law enforcement off, urging them to be on the lookout for a rented Toyota Camry. Lt. Johnny Hernandez said the vehicle was spotted leaving a grocery store parking lot in Combes, Texas, around 10 a.m. on Sunday. The father-daughter duo were stopped and taken into custody without incident. They are being processed and held at the Cameron County jail, The Sun reported.

Read More: Pennsylvania Mother, daughter charged with gruesome murder of five relatives in one house

The case made national news, even prompting media maven Oprah Winfrey to weigh in about the precautions people need to take when giving money to panhandlers. Many vowed never to give money to panhandlers again.

In a statement released to The Sun, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said she mourns the senseless killing of Jacquelyn and is angered by the attempted cover-up.

“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,” Pugh wrote in the statement. “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.”

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