Police say a Baltimore woman whose death made national headlines after she was allegedly killed while trying to help a panhandler was actually killed by her husband and stepdaughter, who then made up the story of the attack to cover their crime.
The Baltimore Police Department announced the stunning update in the case of Jacquelyn Smith on Sunday. Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison told reporters Smith's widower, 52-year-old Keith Smith, and his daughter, 28-year-old Valeria Smith, had been arrested earlier that morning in Texas near the Mexican border, and have been charged with first-degree murder.
Keith Smith told police and several media outlets that he had been driving with his wife and daughter on Dec. 1 when Jacquelyn spotted a woman begging for money. According to police, he said the woman carried a sign reading “Please Help Me Feed My Baby."
When Jacquelyn attempted to give the woman money, a black man appeared and stabbed Smith, police said at the time. Both of the people fled. However, that story was a lie, Harrison said.
"We now know that was not true," he said.
Harrison declined to provide details of the case, but called the detective work leading to the arrests "outstanding."
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh also spoke at the press conference. In a statement, she said "to now learn that family members staged this brutal killing is beyond belief and represents a double tragedy."
"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," she said.