A husband who claimed that panhandlers stabbed and killed his wife last December in Baltimore, has been arrested for staging her death with the help of his daughter.
According to NBC News, Keith Smith, 52, and his 28-year-old daughter Valeria were charged for first degree murder early Sunday morning for the Dec. 1 death of Jacquelyn Smith. The authorities caught the duo in Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border, believing they were trying to flee the country.
While Acting Police Commissioner Michael Harrison wouldn’t divulge many details of the possible motive because “that’s for a trial,” he did stress that the 54-year-old’s death did not happen the way her husband initially described.
“I can say that being notified that they were in Texas certainly added to the evidence we already had to convince us that it was not the homeless person, [and] probable cause existed that it was more than likely their involvement,” Harrison told the Baltimore Sun.
“I think there’s enough evidence to support that this still would have been the outcome.”
Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement that it was a “double tragedy” to learn that family members were accused of staging the killing. Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby also weighed in on the arrest.
“Often times, we have these negative depictions of our city and it’s rather unfortunate when people take advantages of these negative perceptions,” she said.
Smith’s death garnered national attention with even Oprah Winfrey warning people to be weary of helping strangers off the street.
As we previously reported, Mr. Smith told police last year that after celebrating his daughter’s birthday at a nearby restaurant, the couple was driving home when they noticed a young woman on the side of the street, holding what they believed was a baby, asking the Smiths to “help me feed my baby.”
He claimed that when his wife rolled down the window to give the woman money, a man approached the car and stabbed her in the chest. Mrs. Smith later died at John Hopkins’ hospital.
After his wife’s death, Smith was teary-eyed, telling the news, “Something needs to be done. There are some desperate people. They don’t need help; they’re trying to hurt you.”
He also claimed that his wife “was his life.”
The Smiths were also charged with conspiracy to commit murder, assault, conspiracy to commit assault and possession of a dangerous weapon. They are currently being held without bond in Texas.
The father and daughter will be extradited to Baltimore soon.