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Man accused of staging Baltimore panhandler killing rented house, car in Florida before fleeing, officials say

Keith Smith, the man who is accused of killing his wife and blaming it on a panhandler in Baltimore, had rented a home and car in Florida before fleeing to Texas, according to authorities in Florida.

Smith, 52, and his daughter, Valeria Smith, 28, were arrested Sunday in Combes, Texas, and are awaiting extradition back to Baltimore, where they face first-degree murder charges in Jacquelyn Smith’s death on Dec. 1. Baltimore Police said Thursday that the Warrant Apprehension Task Force would be bringing the Smiths back to Baltimore on March 20.

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A spokeswoman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said that Baltimore Police learned Keith Smith had rented a 2019 Toyota Camry through Enterprise in Haines City, Fla., on March 1. Smith drove the rental car south through Texas, where a “be on the lookout” alert was issued to law enforcement through the Department of Homeland Security the same day, the spokeswoman, Sherrie M. Morgan said.

Two days later, Smith was arrested by Texas State Police following a traffic stop, Morgan said. Keith Smith and Valeria Smith were taken into custody. Interim Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced charges against the Smiths on Sunday.

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The family had at first blamed a pair of panhandlers who stopped their car at an East Baltimore intersection, saying Jacquelyn Smith gave a woman with a baby money and was then fatally stabbed by a man.

Jacquelyn Smith’s brother previously told The Baltimore Sun that Keith Smith told the family he was relocating to Florida.

Morgan said Keith Smith moved from Maryland to Winter Haven on Feb. 12. He signed a year-long lease at a modest home at 4030 Cypress Landing East in Winter Haven on Feb. 21 and moved in the following day. Valeria Smith was believed to be living with him, Morgan said.

Keith Smith benefited financially from his wife, Jacquelyn Smith, during her life — and had sought to be the executor of her estate, which he said was worthless. Now Keith Smith and daughter Valeria Smith stand accused of murdering Jacquelyn and concocting a story about a panhandler in Baltimore.

On Tuesday, a search warrant for Smith’s Florida residence was executed and “evidence” was collected, Morgan said.

Morgan declined to provide additional information about what items were recovered in the search.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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