BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Since Jacquelyn Smith’s killing- originally believed to be due to a case of helping a panhandler gone wrong- there has been much speculation on what actually happened in the early hours of December 1.
A twist in the murder case came to light Sunday when Baltimore police said Smith’s husband, Keith Smith and his daughter, Valeria Smith, had been arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border- attempting to flee the country.
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.
With so much that has happened in the last few months, let’s take a look at the time of Jacquelyn’s death to now:
- December 1: Baltimore Police investigate a 52-year-old woman who was reportedly stabbed to death while trying to give money to a woman who claimed she needed help feeding her baby, according to her husband’s account.
- December 2: Friends of Jacquelyn Smith initially said they were skeptical of the story told to police, but said they didn’t doubt she would help someone in need.
- December 4: Oprah Winfrey tweets she would “think twice” before giving to panhandlers.
- December 6: Smith’s church community holds a vigil for her, and church leaders call for suspects to turn themselves in.
- December 15: Her family meets in Rhode Island for Jacquelyn’s funeral. Keith Smith emotionally pleas to the suspects to come forward. “So, for the cowards that took my wife’s life, I hope it was worth it. Because you’re going to answer to that one day, you’re gonna answer to it,” Keith said.
- December 27: Mayor Pugh and community leaders pay their respects to more than 300 lives lost to violence in Baltimore in 2018, including Jacquelyn Smith.
- March 3: Police hold presser with “significant development” in Smith’s case. It’s revealed it was not a panhandler who killed Smith, and the story had been made up by her husband, Keith and his daughter Valeria.
- March 3: Texas police arrest both Keith and Valeria 20 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, as they were attempting to flee the country, police said.
- March 4: The suspects are seen before a Cameron County court, where a Texas judge gives Maryland 10 days to pick up the father and daughter. They are both denied bail.
- March 4: New details are revealed about Keith Smith’s past, including doing time for three robberies at a Timonium bank in the early 2000s. He was sentenced to twelve years in prison, and was released in 2007.
Keith Smith’s story maintained an appearance of love and devotion to his wife, calling her his soulmate, and advocating for months to crack down on panhandlers in Baltimore City. His daughter remained silent, appearing tearfully on camera with him at times.
“For anybody that’s in Baltimore, be careful when we see these panhandlers out here,” Smith said. “Get in close proximity to your car. Because like me, I’m from Baltimore, the last thing I thought that they were gonna take my wife’s life. And so now I gotta live with that. I gotta live with that every day.”
He told police the man who killed his wife was possibly in his thirties and had a goatee.
Now, both he and his daughter are being held without bail.
Jacquelyn’s brother and mother both publicly expressed Monday they had always been skeptical of the story Keith Smith told to police about her death.
“She would never put herself in harm’s way,” her brother said. “The death penalty would be too easy. They need to sit in prison for life and stew about the crime they committed.”
Marcel Trisvan told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren the story made no sense from the start.
“I was always suspicious. My first question was who would roll the windows down on their wife? Why wouldn’t you stomp on the gas to get away, and why didn’t you immediately take her to the hospital?”
Later Monday, it is revealed Jacquelyn Smith’s brother said Valeria Smith should not be considered her stepdaughter. He said Jacquelyn had a rocky relationship with Valeria and said that could be the motive “or maybe it was about money.”
Her family said that after the murder, her husband sold all of the belongings in her townhouse and abruptly announced he was moving to Florida.
“I always thought that was a decoy move to distract police as he ran for the border,” her brother said.
Her mother, Anna Trisvane said she knew from the moment Keith Smith called her about her daughter’s death that something was not right.
“My daughter was the type of person who was cautious. If somebody came to her window, at two clock in the morning in the rain, begging for money, she would tell them, no, go get a job. I’m not giving them nothing,” Trisvane said.
Baltimore City Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Sunday the case was still open and declined to elaborate on what police believe is the motive.
“People take advantage of Baltimore. We want to make sure the truth comes out and justice is done,” the commissioner said.