A Maryland woman who authorities said was stabbed to death after giving money to a panhandler was actually killed by her husband and stepdaughter, according to police, who said they made up the entire story to get away with her killing.
Keith Smith, 52, called 911 on Dec. 1 saying his wife, Jacquelyn Smith, had been gravely injured while trying to help who she thought was a young woman in need, officials said.
Police said Keith told them they were driving through the Baltimore neighborhood of Johnston Square when Jacquelyn spotted a woman carrying what appeared to be an infant and a cardboard sign that read, “Please help me feed my baby.”
After Jacquelyn rolled down her window to give the woman money, a man standing nearby reaching into the vehicle to grab her wallet, the Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland said at the time, based on information provided by Keith, 52.
Jacquelyn and the man struggled before the man took out a knife and stabbed her in the chest and then fled with the woman carrying the sign, police said Keith told them. Emergency responders rushed Jacquelyn to an area hospital, but she could not be saved.
“We now know, that that was not true,” Police Commissioner Michael Harrison told reporters Sunday.
Harrison’s announcement came as police revealed they arrested Keith and his 28-year-old daughter, Valeria Smith, in Jacquelyn’s murder.
During their investigation, Baltimore police learned the father and daughter were leaving the state, so they “made the appropriate national notifications,” Harrison said.
The pair were taken into custody in Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday. Both have been charged with first-degree murder, Harrison said.
“These individuals took advantage of a situation, a city that is already dealing with its own problems,” Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said. “So we’re looking forward to this cruel act being brought to justice.”
Police declined to provide a motive in the alleged murder, saying that was a “trial matter.”
Harrison noted the investigation was ongoing, but echoed Pugh in saying he and other officials want to make sure “that the truth comes out and justice is done.”
“This case, like all of these cases, certainly is a terrible tragedy,” Harrison said. “Jacqueline Smith was an innocent victim and so I hope you would keep her in your thoughts and in your prayers.”