Here's what we know about the killing of Jacquelyn Smith, originally blamed on panhandler in Baltimore

It was an act of violence beyond comprehension. Jacquelyn Smith was murdered, her husband said in a tearful news conference, after she’d given money to a panhandler in East Baltimore.

Three months later, police say Smith’s husband, Keith Smith, 52, and her stepdaughter are responsible for her death.


The two were arrested Sunday while attempting to flee the country, police said.

Here’s what we know about the Jacquelyn Smith killing:

» Jacquelyn Smith, 54, an electrical engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, died Dec. 1. Police and her husband initially said she was stabbed at Valley and East Chase streets in Johnston Square.


Just hours before, they’d danced to their wedding song, John Legend’s “All of Me,” at an American Legion hall, Keith Smith said. The couple was with Keith Smith’s stepdaughter, Valeria Smith, 28.

In interviews, Keith Smith spoke of a woman who appeared to be holding a baby and had a cardboard sign that said, “Please Help me feed my Baby.” Although Smith said he was reluctant to open the window late at night, his wife “felt moved to give her some money.” Later, Smith claimed that another man approached to snatch his wife’s purse and necklace — and then stabbed her to death.

Jacquelyn Smith was stabbed five times in her chest.

» The incident was condemned by city leaders, such as Mayor Catherine Pugh. Then-interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle called the killing “a heinous murder.”

Keith Smith wanted to get a law passed in his wife’s memory banning panhandling.

» Oprah tweeted that she would think twice before giving to panhandlers again.

The widower and stepdaughter of a woman killed in an East Baltimore stabbing in December — an attack the man blamed on a panhandler his wife had just helped — have been arrested in her death. Baltimore police say they were trying to flee the U.S. and were arrested in Texas.

» But months later, Keith and Valeria Smith, were arrested by Texas State Police near the U.S.-Mexico border while trying to flee the country.

Warrants charging them with first-degree murder in Jacquelyn Smith’s death were issued.

"The information and evidence points it wasn't a panhandler," Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison told reporters. "People take advantage of Baltimore. We want to make sure the truth comes out and justice is done."

Harrison, in a meeting with The Baltimore Sun editorial board, said the timing of the arrest was affected by the Smiths’ proximity to the Mexico border.

» Keith and Valeria Smith left prison near the Mexican border to return to Baltimore and stand trial for murder.

» Sons of the slain Jacquelyn Smith are asking the court to strip the control of her estate from her husband and alleged killer.

Saddled with bills back in 1999, Keith Smith put on a ski mask, grabbed a pellet gun and carried out a series of bank robberies in the suburbs.

"I already know it's Keith," said her brother, Marcel Trisvan of Havre de Grace. "It never made sense. I told [detectives] from the very beginning there are no suspects out there.”

“It was inconceivable,” said Johnston Square resident Terence Alexel, 59, who was among those who never believed the story.

» A friend of Smith’s told police that he had asked for help to “get rid” of his wife after she asked him for a divorce, according to charging documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

» Detectives wrote that Keith Smith and his daughter gave inconsistent accounts of the crime in different interviews, triggering officers’ suspicions.

» Footage from surveillance cameras showed no sign of their car in the desolate stretch of East Baltimore the night the stabbing happened, according to charging documents.

» On Feb. 27, Keith Smith’s brother, Vick Smith, was served a subpoena to testify before a grand jury. After being warned by his brother of the subpoena the following day, Keith Smith began making getaway plans.

» Keith Smith was previously sentenced to 12 years in prison. He robbed a Timonium bank three times using a pellet gun and wearing a ski mask.

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