By Michelle Richardson, Special to the AFRO
The alleged murder of a woman known as a “good samaritan,” by a panhandler shocked many in Baltimore, a city sometimes numb to violence. This week, in a gruesome real-life plot twist that woman’s husband and stepdaughter have been charged in her murder.
Originally, Keith Smith, 52, of Aberdeen and Valeria Smith, 28, of Baltimore told the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), his wife Jacquelyn Anne Smith, 54, was stabbed by a panhandler after she rolled down her window in a blighted East Baltimore neighborhood in December to give money to a man and woman who claimed they were trying to feed their baby.
Keith Smith and his daughter Valeria Smith are being held without bond in Texas, charged in the murder of Keith Smith’s wife Jacquelyn Smith in Baltimore in December. (courtesy photos)
For several weeks, waves of outrage rippled from Baltimore across the nation; even media titan Oprah Winfrey weighed in on the killing in December when she tweeted, “This story struck my heart. I’ve done this 1k times. But will think twice before ever doing again. To J.S. family I hope her death gets people “woke to change!”” wrote Winfrey.
In the aftermath of his wife’s alleged murder, Keith Smith and his daughter Valeria made emotional public pleas for information that would lead to the capture of the killer of their loved one; they made the round on local news stations, flyers were made and distributed throughout neighborhoods.
But, on March 3 BPD announced they charged Smith and his daughter with the murder of Jacquelyn Smith.
The father and daughter duo were caught by Texas State Troopers trying to escape the U.S. near the U.S.-Mexico border and were arrested in Combes, Texas. They had allegedly told family members they were moving to Florida.
Both are being held without bail in Texas and are expected to be extradited to Baltimore before March 20, according to charging documents.
“The information and evidence points it wasn’t a panhandler…People are taking advantage of Baltimore. We want to make sure the truth comes out and justice is done,” said Michael Harrison, BPD acting commissioner, during a press conference on March 4, with Mayor Catherine Pugh and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
“This is an example where collaborative efforts of the Baltimore Police Department and my office were able to get to the truth of the matter,” Mosby said.
“I’m disappointed that the two alleged suspects attempted to take advantage of negative perceptions of our city…We look forward to fighting for justice on behalf of Jacquelyn Smith and her family in a court of law.”
Pugh alluded to the deplorable ruse allegedly perpetrated by the accused murderers.
“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,” Pugh said. “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 added.
Local television station, FOX 45 talked to the mother of Jacquelyn Smith, who said she had her doubts about how her daughter died from the beginning.
“She was just a good person. She liked everybody. She believed in God a lot. It was all phony. I knew it was not real. I suspected that he had something to do with it,” said Trisvan, who added she confronted her now estranged son-in-law at her daughter’s funeral.
“I gave you a beautiful daughter and you let her die like that, I know she didn’t deserve to die the way she died,” she said.
Smith and his daughter are both charged with nine counts of first-degree murder. Police have not established a motive in Jacquelyn Smith’s alleged murder.