Back in December 1999, Keith Tyrone Smith was growing desperate. He had lost his job with FedEx because of too many points on his driver’s license. He was raising his daughter alone. Worse, he just found out he was HIV-positive, police wrote.
“He stated that his bills were past due so he needed money,” they wrote.
And so the 34-year-old Woodlawn man decided to rob a bank.
Twenty years later, Smith is back in police custody. He’s jailed in Texas and awaiting extradition to stand trial for a crime that has shocked the conscience of families across Baltimore. City police say Smith, now 52, and his grown daughter murdered his second wife late last year. Their alleged ruse: A panhandler committed the deadly stabbing on a desolate block of East Baltimore.
The death of Jacquelyn Anne Smith, whom he married in July 2014, drew grief and outrage from around the country. Oprah tweeted she will think twice before rolling down her window to give money.
Then police made a surprise announcement Sunday, accusing Jacquelyn Smith’s husband and stepdaughter of her killing. They say Keith Smith and his daughter, Valeria Smith, 28, were arrested while trying to flee to Mexico.
Both are charged with murder. Their attorneys are not yet listed.
It’s not the first time Keith Smith finds himself in trouble with the law. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to robbery with a deadly weapon two decades ago. He served about six years and was paroled in 2007, said a spokesman for the state prison system.
He had selected for his target the old First Union Bank on York Road in Timonium because it was close to Interstate 83, he told officers. During a police station interview, he offered up an account of his crimes.
Baltimore County Police provided the account to The Baltimore Sun. The case file was not available Monday.
In December 1999, Smith walked into the bank with a pellet gun and wearing a ski mask. He told everyone to lie on the floor. He jumped over the counter and emptied the drawers of cash, police wrote. Then he hurried out a rear door and drove home to Woodlawn.
“He stated that he got approximately $15,000,” police wrote. “He used that money to pay bills.”
Smith struck again three months later. The crime was the same: the pellet gun, ski mask, the orders to lie down. This time, he told police, he made off with about $16,000.
He waited five months before hitting the same bank a third time. By then, police were searching for the gold Nissan Maxima driven by the robber. A few days after his third successful robbery, police spotted the car in East Baltimore. The driver took off and police chased before the Maxima crashed in West Baltimore.
Smith was arrested at the scene.