BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s a shocking twist in the murder of a Good Samaritan back in the December — the woman’s husband and his daughter were arrested in her killing.
Police said initially that Jacquelyn Smith was killed while giving out money to a panhandler from her car window in Baltimore, but on Sunday officials said her husband Keith Smith and his daughter Valeria were charged in the woman’s death. Police said Smith’s fatal stabbing was staged.
In their first court appearance Monday, the Smiths were denied bail. Maryland has 10 days to extradite them from Cameron County.
Mayor Catherine Pugh released a statement Sunday saying the city and BPD have learned Jacquelyn Smith was killed by family members, in a “staged brutal killing.”
“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. 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. 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,” Pugh said.
Jacquelyn’s husband Keith and Valeria, his daughter, were arrested by Texas police in Combes, just north of Harlingen, near the U.S.-Mexican border while trying to leave the country, acting Baltimore police commissioner Michael Harrison said.
A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper saw Keith Smith and his daughter in a Toyota Camry.
Warrants charging them with first-degree murder were issued Sunday, Harrison said.
Jacquelyn Smith, 54, an engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, was stabbed to death at North Valley and East Chase streets about 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, police said.
After the news broke that Smith was murdered, it was her husband who gave a tearful plea on camera.
“The last thing I thought they were going to take my wife’s life, and so now I got to live with that, I got to live with that every day,” he said at the time.
But after three months of investigating, Baltimore City Police said it is the husband and his daughter who were responsible all along.
“We pursued justice from the very beginning and these detectives were very tenacious, were very thorough and very dedicated and they followed the evidence,” said Harrison.
Smith’s husband claimed she was stabbed while she was helping a panhandler.
“Snatched her necklace, and before I knew it, the girl snatched the little pocketbook from the seat and they both ran,” Keith said back in December. “I jumped out the car to run, but I heard my wife screaming, so I came back to the car.”
Police had previously said they believe she was giving cash to a woman asking for money to feed her baby, when a man approached the car window, pulled out a knife, stabbed her in the chest, and robbed her.
Smith’s friends told WJZ’s Devin Bartolotta the day after her murder they didn’t believe the story, and thought her husband had killed her.
Harrison said in this case, people took advantage of Baltimore’s reputation.
“The information and the evidence points to it was not a panhandler, and people should still take caution and use due diligence when doing anything like that anywhere they are in America, but it points to the fact that it was not a panhandler and that the circumstances were very different and people took advantage of Baltimore, and what we want to make sure is that the truth comes out and justice is served,” he said.
There is no word on when the two suspects will be extradited.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said she was disappointed that the two suspects had tried to take advantage of the city.
“I’m disappointed that the two alleged suspects attempted to take advantage of negative perceptions of our city. I’m grateful for the collaborative efforts of my prosecutors and the Baltimore Police Department in getting to the bottom of a contrived and disturbing tragedy. We look forward to fighting for justice on behalf of Jacquelyn Smith and her family in a court of law,” Mosby said.
This story is developing. Stay with WJZ for the latest.