Many across the nation were outraged by the story of a Good Samaritan in December reportedly killed in Baltimore by an ungrateful panhandler. Now anger has turned on her husband and stepdaughter whom police accused of being the actual killers.
Texas authorities charged Keith Smith, 52, and his 28-year-old daughter Valeria Smith on Monday with the first-degree murder of Smith’s wife, Jacquelyn Smith, WBAL-TV reported. Baltimore police investigators were expected to interview the father and daughter suspects on Tuesday when an extradition hearing was also scheduled.
Jacquelyn Smith, 54, an electrical engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, was stabbed to death at about 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, the Baltimore Sun reported. Smith’s husband blamed the stabbing on a man who approached their car to beg for money.
“The information and evidence points to it wasn’t a panhandler,” Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Sunday at a press conference, pointing the finger of guilt to Keith Smith.
Arrest warrants for Keith Smith and Valeria Smith listed murder, conspiracy, assault and weapons charges. The arrest warrant for Valeria Smith named her as an accessory after the fact in the killing of Jacquelyn Smith by husband Keith 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 tweet Sunday.
The developments came against the backdrop of the Chicago Police Department accusing actor Jussie Smollett of staging a racist and homophobic attack in December. News of the alleged assault in Chicago elicited outrage against two presumed white men, as well as an outpouring of sympathy for the “Empire” star. Chicago’s notoriously corrupt police were also accused of exaggerating the evidence against Smollett.
The Baltimore police stated that Keith Smith called 911 on Dec. 1 to report that his wife had stopped her car to hand money to a needy woman with a baby when a man approached, according to CNN. Smith said the man tried to grab his wife’s wallet, fatally stabbed her in a struggle and fled with the woman and baby. Investigators searched without success for the alleged killer, described as a man in his 30s with a goatee.
But residents of the neighborhood where the alleged killing happened expressed immediate doubts about the story, according to the Sun. None of the people interviewed ever recalled seeing a woman with a baby or a man panhandling in the neighborhood.
Adding to the reported doubt, Keith Smith has a criminal past. He was arrested in 2000 for bank robberies, WBAL-TV reporter Jayne Miller tweeted.
“I already know it’s Keith,” Jacquelyn Smith’s brother Marcel Trisvan told the Sun about who committed the killing. “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.”
Texas troopers caught Smith and his daughter while they were reportedly trying to escape to Mexico. About 10 a.m. Sunday, a trooper spotted their rental car leaving the parking lot of a small grocery store near the border. They were taken into custody without incident.