Husband, stepdaughter arrested in death of woman allegedly killed by 2 panhandlers
The investigation into a Maryland woman's death took a stunning turn this week after police arrested her stepdaughter and husband on first-degree murder charges.
Keith Smith, 52, and his daughter, 28-year-old Valeria Smith, were taken into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday over the Dec. 1 stabbing death of 54-year-old Jacquelyn Smith. The pair was allegedly trying to flee the country when they were apprehended, the Baltimore Sun reports.
The accused husband called 911 on the night of the alleged attack and told police that he, his wife and his daughter were driving through East Baltimore around 12:30 a.m. when they spotted a female panhandler on the side of the road carrying what appeared to be a child and a sign that read, "Help me feed my baby, God Bless."
Keith told authorities that Jacquelyn rolled down her window to give the woman $10 when another panhandler, who was allegedly part of the ruse, approached the vehicle and stabbed the good Samaritan, ripping off her necklace and taking her purse before running off with the female beggar.
The victim was rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital where she died from her injuries two hours later.
Authorities have not yet disclosed what led them to Sunday's arrest or any possible motives, citing the ongoing investigation. However, Baltimore police did say at a press conference that when they learned of Keith Smith's plans to leave Maryland, they coordinated with Texas State Police to arrest him.
Following the disturbing revelation, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh slammed the elaborate coverup scheme and the negative impact it had on the city's residents.
"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 in a statement. "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."