BALTIMORE (Gray News) - The narrative surrounding Jacquelyn Smith’s death broke hearts across the country when it first made national headlines in early December.
Investigators had been told Smith died as a Good Samaritan. She had reportedly rolled down her car window to give money to a mother she saw on the street, only to be stabbed to death by a man who approached the car.
Baltimore Police announced Sunday that none of that was true.
Her husband, 52-year-old Keith Smith, and step daughter, 28-year-old Valerie Smith, were arrested by Texas State Police. Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced at a news conference that the two were trying to flee the country to Mexico.
Now they’re facing first-degree murder charges.
Reporters pressed Harrison for details about how investigators cracked the case, but he wouldn’t budge, saying the answers would jeopardize the investigation. He answered most questions by citing “good detective work.”
Even so, he was willing to share that Baltimore law enforcement learned the suspects had plans to leave Maryland, so they “made the appropriate national notifications.” Baltimore officers informed Texas troopers of the suspects and the Toyota Camry they’d rented.
According to The Baltimore Sun, an investigator spotted the vehicle at a grocery store in Combes, TX, just north of Harlingen. That’s where the duo was taken into custody without incident.
Jacquelyn Smith’s family is relieved arrests have finally been made, especially since many of them doubted the panhandler narrative.
“All the questioning has been specific to Keith (Smith.) That kind of sums it right there,” Jacquelyn Smith’s brother Marcel Trisvan told local media. “It never made sense. I told [detectives] from the very beginning there are no suspects out there.”
The evolution of the case has left city and state officials outraged.
“Like everyone in our city, state and across this nation, we mourned the senseless killing of Jacquelyn Smith. To now learn that family members staged this brutal killing is beyond belief and represents a double tragedy,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said. “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.”
Baltimore saw 300 murders last year. State Attorney Marilyn Mosby said the Smiths tried to capitalize on the city’s violent reputation.
“Often times, we have these negative depictions of our city and it’s rather unfortunate when people take advantages of these negative perceptions,” Mosby said.