Baltimore, MD – A woman who was supposedly stabbed to death while trying to help a mother-in-need was actually murdered by her husband and stepdaughter, police said.
Texas State Police (TSP) arrested 52-year-old Keith Smith and his 28-year-old daughter, Valeria Smith, as they were attempting to flee to Mexico on Sunday, Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison told The Baltimore Sun.
The duo has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 54-year-old Jacquelyn Smith, who was married to Keith.
Keith and Valeria, who also uses the alias of “Shavon,” claimed that Jacquelyn was murdered at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2018, as they were all driving home Valeria’s birthday party, ABC News reported.
At East Chase Street and North Valley Street, they spotted a woman in her 20s holding and infant, carrying a sign that read, “Please help me feed my baby,” according to WMAR.
As Jacquelyn was reaching out of their car window to give money to the young panhandler, a man suddenly approached and acted as if he was thanking her, Keith and Valeria claimed.
Instead, he reached into the vehicle and grabbed Jacquelyn’s pocketbook and necklace, stabbing her in the abdomen when she fought back, The Baltimore Sun reported.
“This girl actually said, ‘God bless you,’” after her accomplice murdered Jacquelyn, Keith told reporters back in December.
Keith also told the media that he planned to push for legislation to ban panhandling, and that his wife “didn’t die in vain.”
“I wanna try to get a law passed against…this epidemic of these people out here begging for money and getting [into] close proximity of your car, because…I see it everywhere I go, and some people get violent when you don’t wanna give,” he said.
“You don’t know whether or not…this person’s gonna take your life, or they’re gonna say ‘thank you’ for it,” he continued. “’Cause this girl actually said, ‘God bless you’ when that guy did that.”
“I just want that word to get out,” Keith added. “Be careful when we see these panhandlers out.”
But other members of Jacquelyn’s family doubted their story from the outset.
“I already know it’s Keith,” her brother, Marcel Trisvan, told The Baltimore Sun. “It never made sense. I told [detectives] from the very beginning there are no suspects out there.”
He said that two weeks ago, Keith removed all the appliances out of Jacquelyn’s home, and told Trisvan he was moving to Florida.
“The information and evidence points it wasn’t a panhandler,” Commissioner Harrison said. “People take advantage of Baltimore. We want to make sure the truth comes out and justice is done.”
A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper spotted Keith and Valeria’s rental car leaving a Combes, Texas grocery store on Sunday, and pulled them over for the outstanding murder warrants a short while later.
They were about 20 miles shy of the U.S.-Mexico border when they were apprehended.
Commissioner Harrison said that the potential motive for the heinous murder is a “trial matter,” and would not elaborate, WBAL reported.
“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,” Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement 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,” Pugh added. “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."
Although Trisvan is glad that Keith and Valeria have been arrested, he does not feel a sense of closure, he said.
“My sister was robbed from this world. This didn’t need to happen,” he told The Baltimore Sun. “I’m hopeful this person never sees the light of day, but I mean, to me, that’s not closure.”
Keith and Valeria were arraigned in Cameron County Magistrate Court on Monday, WBAL reported.
They are being held without bond, and extradition hearings are pending.