In December 2018, a story about a woman who was allegedly stabbed to death while giving money to a panhandler in Baltimore rocked the nation. Even Oprah Winfrey spoke out about the killing that she said made her weary of ever giving money to anyone on the street ever again.
Now, months after the news first broke, police say it was the woman’s husband and his daughter who staged the attack against the victim.
On Sunday, Keith Smith, 52, and Valeria Smith, 28, were arrested in connection with the Dec. 1 killing of Jacquelyn Smith. Both were charged with first-degree murder, reported WBAL.
Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Keith and Valeria were arrested Sunday morning in Harlingen, Texas, near the border. Police believe the two were trying to flee the county.
"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)," Harrison told reporters. "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."
Harrison would not, however, comment on a motive, saying that information is a "trial matter."
"The information and the evidence points to it was not a panhandler," Harrison said. "People took advantage of Baltimore."
Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said the family was taking advantage of the reputation the city has.
"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," Mosby said.
After the 54-year-old’s killing, her husband claimed they were driving down the street when they noticed a woman, holding a sign that read, "please help me feed my baby," and carrying what appeared to be a baby.
When Smith took out her wallet to give the woman money, according to her husband, a man reached into the car, grabbed the wallet, stabbed her and ran away. She died later at a hospital.
Both Keith Smith and Valeria Smith were with Jacquelyn Smith the night she was killed. They told police the panhandler story.
While the killing shocked people around the country, Jacquelyn Smith’s brother Marcel Trisvan never believed the story.
“I already know it’s Keith,” he told the Baltimore Sun.
“All the questioning has been specific to Keith. That kind of sums it right there,” Trisvan added. “It never made sense. I told [detectives] from the very beginning there are no suspects out there.”
Trisvan said Keith Smith moved out of his sister’s house two weeks ago and told the family he was moving to Florida.
When Trisvan went to the home, he noticed Keith Smith removed all the appliances from the home.
Although Trisvan doesn’t feel closure from the arrest, he does hope justice is served.
“I’m hopeful this person never sees the light of day, but I mean, to me, that’s not closure,” he said adding, “My sister was robbed from this world. This didn’t need to happen.”