BALTIMORE — After three months of investigating, Baltimore Police revealed a startling update on the murder of Jacquelyn Smith, which had family members asking the question, "why?"
Sunday afternoon, acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced the crime was staged and that Jacquelyn Smith's husband, Keith Smith, 52, and his 28-year-old daughter Valeria Shavon Smith had been charged with her murder.
Harrison said police in Texas arrested the two Sunday morning near the U.S.-Mexico border after word got around they were trying to leave the country.
"During the course of our investigation, we developed evidence that Mr. Smith was leaving Maryland," Harrison said Sunday. "So we made the appropriate national notifications and the Texas State Police arrested him this morning."
Baltimore police released photos of both suspects. Keith Smith's is a driver's license picture, Valeria Smith's photo is a mugshot from a prior arrest.
Harrison says detectives will reveal what made them focus in on the pair of suspects during their trial.
"People took advantage of Baltimore," Harrison told reporters. "We want to make sure that the truth comes out and justice is done."
It was early Saturday morning on December 1, 2018, when Smith was reportedly stabbed to death after giving money to a panhandler in Baltimore.
As part of what police are now calling a ruse, Jacquelyn's family initially said they were driving when she noticed a woman holding a cardboard sign saying, "Please help me feed my baby."
Sitting in the passenger seat, the family alleged that Jacquelyn rolled her window down to give the woman some money. The family told police a man approached the car to say thank you when he reached for her wallet. That's when police were originally told a struggle began and the man stabbed Jacquelyn in the torso before he, and the panhandler, ran away.
Jacquelyn and Keith were said to be on their way back from celebrating Valeria's birthday, when, according to Keith , Jacquelyn felt the need to give.
"My wife just felt moved to give her something," Keith told WMAR back in December. "So at the stop sign, she waved her over to come on over to the car and out of nowhere some guy came over while walking with her. I hit my window and Jacquelyn went to hand the money out and the guy leaned over and said, 'can I thank your wife?' I said you can thank my wife and, within that split second, this guy commits to stabbing my wife."
Keith said he started to chase the suspect before he heard Jacquelyn's screams. He then said he raced his wife to Johns Hopkins Hospital, but she didn't make it.
Following the incident, Keith said he would make it his mission to pursue justice for Jacquelyn through legislation . At the time, he told WMAR he wanted the city to pass a law banning panhandling and soliciting at every intersection in Baltimore. He said he was going to make it clear to the mayor that it should be named Jacquelyn's Law, and he wouldn't give up until it happened.
Until Sunday, police hadn't publicly released any leads in the case of the mother of two sons. Harrison said the case was solved due to "good detective work".
Baltimore City State Attorney Marilyn Mosby expressed disappointment in what she called a disturbing tragedy, but vowed to fight for justice
“I’m disappointed that the two alleged suspects attempted to take advantage of negative perceptions of our city," Mosby said. "I’m grateful for the collaborative efforts of my prosecutors and the Baltimore Police Department in getting to the bottom of a contrived and disturbing tragedy. We look forward to fighting for justice on behalf of Jacquelyn Smith and her family in a court of law.”
It's still unclear what evidence police found that linked Keith and Valeria Smith to the murder.
In response to this latest development, Mayor Catherine Pugh released the following statement.
My statement on the murder of Jacquelyn Smith pic.twitter.com/LYqwtvWWYa
— Mayor Catherine Pugh (@MayorPugh50) March 3, 2019
Pugh went on to tell reporters this story brings on a darker cloud on a city looking for ways to heal.
"These individuals took advantage of a situations; a city that is already dealing with its own problems," Pugh said. "So, we're looking forward to this cruel act being brought to justice."