Stunning twist after panhandler accused in woman’s murder

A woman whose murder three months ago was blamed on an attack by a panhandler was actually killed by her husband and his daughter, Baltimore police said Sunday. CBS Baltimore reports the husband and stepdaughter of Jacquelyn Smith have been arrested for her death, police said Sunday in a press conference.

Mayor Pugh released a statement Sunday saying the city and Baltimore Police Department have learned Jacquelyn Smith was killed by family members, in a “staged brutal killing.”

Her death drew headline nationwide and prompted some to regard panhandlers with caution. Even Oprah Winfrey, whose early career included several years covering Baltimore news, commented that she would “think twice” about giving to panhandlers after reading about the case, the Associated Press reported.

“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.”

Keith Smith, Jacquelyn’s husband, and Valeria Smith, her stepdaughter, were arrested by Texas state police in Harlingen, near the Mexican border while trying to leave the country, acting Baltimore police commissioner said.

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 Jacquelyn 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.

But after three months of investigating, Baltimore City Police said it is the husband and his daughter who were responsible all along.

Police arrested them in Texas at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“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 acting commissioner Michael 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 added. “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.

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.

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