Keith Smith, 52, and his daughter Valeria Shavon Smith, 28, are both facing first-degree murder charges for the stabbing death of Keith’s wife, Jacquelyn Smith.
They originally told police that Jacquelyn had been stabbed by a panhandler on December 1, 2018. The murder made national headlines and prompted a widespread search for the alleged attackers. But Baltimore police now say that the story had been a fabrication in order to hide a premeditated murder.
Keith and Valeria Smith were arrested in Harlingen, Texas, on March 3, 2019. They appeared before a judge the following morning and were formally arraigned.
On March 21, 2019, the two were extradited back to Baltimore to face charges, according to inmate records.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Police: Keith & Valeria Smith Were Tracked to Southern Texas, Where They Were Arrested
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison revealed in a news conference on Sunday, March 3, that Keith Smith and his daughter Valeria had been arrested that day in Harlingen, Texas. The city is near the border with Mexico and police said the pair may have planned to leave the country. Texas State Police made the arrest and booked Keith and Valeria Smith into the Cameron County Jail, according to inmate records.
Commissioner Harrison did not provide tactical or investigative details. He said that Baltimore detectives had “pursued the evidence from the very beginning” which ultimately led them to believe that Jacquelyn Smith had been murdered by her husband and stepdaughter. He did not provide a potential motive.
The charges against Keith and Valeria Smith include first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, assault in the first-degree, conspiracy to commit assault and having a dangerous weapon with intent to injure. They are being held without bail, according to WBAL-TV.
Commissioner Harrison explained that investigators had become aware that Keith Smith had been making plans to leave Baltimore and sent out national notifications. He did not specify how long Keith and Valeria are believed to have been in Texas.
The mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh, released the following statement: “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,” Pugh said in a statement Sunday. “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. I commend our homicide detectives for their expert and tireless work in bringing those truly responsible to justice in this very troubling and sad case.”
2. Keith Smith Initially Told Police That Jacquelyn Had Been Stabbed By a Woman Who Was Asking For Money to Help Feed Her Baby
The murder of Jacquelyn Smith made national headlines. On December 1, 2018, she and her husband and stepdaughter had just left a family gathering and were driving in east Baltimore. The story of what happened next was a tragic one, and police now say it was entirely fiction.
Keith Smith told police that as they were driving home shortly after midnight, they saw a woman, holding what appeared to be a baby. He said the woman had a cardboard sign that read “Please help me feed my baby.” Keith said Jacquelyn rolled down the window, gave the woman money, and that a man approached and said he wanted to say thanks. Keith said the man then grabbed Jacquelyn’s necklace while the woman grabbed Jacquelyn’s purse, and that the man stabbed Jacquelyn during the struggle.
Keith Smith called 911 and drove his wife to the hospital, where she died from her injuries. Again, Baltimore police now say the panhandler story was a lie and that the evidence backs up that assertion.
3. Keith Smith Referred to Jacquelyn as His ‘Soul Mate’ & Expressed Grief in Interviews After Her Murder
Keith Smith’s Facebook page is filled with pictures of him and Jacquelyn together. After her murder, Keith appeared before television cameras to share his grief. He referred to Jacquelyn as his “soul mate” and his “everything.” He lived in Aberdeen in Harford County, which is northeast of Baltimore.
While speaking with reporters shortly after Jacquelyn’s death, Keith Smith explained the panhandler story and expressed shock over it. He told the cameras, “I’m from Baltimore. The last thing I thought was that they were gonna take my wife’s life. And so now I gotta live with that. I got to live with that every day.”
His daughter, Valeria Shavon Smith, was standing next to him. She appeared to be struggling to hold back tears. In a separate interview with WMAR-TV, Valeria Smith said she was concerned about her father as he grieved for Jacquelyn. “I just want to make sure that my father is ok. Because you know, he’s never been through this. Now he is a widower. He hasn’t eaten. He doesn’t sleep. I’m just worried about him. I’m trying to be strong for him.” Valeria added toward the end of the piece, “It makes me look at this whole world different… Nothing is ever what it seems.”
Baltimore police now say Smith and his daughter concocted the story.
4. Keith Smith Was a Baltimore Native & Reportedly Worked as a Lumber Driver; His Daughter Valeria Pleaded Guilty to Assault in 2018
Keith Tyrone Smith, 52, was a native of Baltimore, according to his Facebook page. His profile is filled with pictures of him and Jacquelyn, whom he called his soul mate. According to his Linkedin page, Smith worked for U.S. Lumber as a CDL Driver.
His daughter, Valeria Shavon Smith, 28, appears to have been known to law enforcement. An online database with the Maryland Judiciary brings up prior cases including assault and traffic violations. In 2017, she was charged with second-degree assault and disturbing the peace. Smith pleaded guilty to the assault charge and appears to have been sentenced to probation.
5. Jacquelyn Smith Was a Mother of Two Sons & Worked as an Engineer
Jacquelyn Smith was 54 when she died on December 1, 2018. She was the mother of two adult sons. WMAR-TV reported that she and Keith Smith got married in 2014.
Jacquelyn worked at the Aberdeen Proving Ground an an electrical engineer. Her brother, Marcel Trisvane of Havre de Grace, told the Baltimore Sun that he and other family members had suspected that Keith could have been involved in her death. “All the questioning has been specific to Keith. That kind of sums it right there. It never made sense. I told detectives from the very beginning there are no suspects out there.”
Jacquelyn’s mother, Anna Trisvane, described her to WPRI-TV. “She was really a family person… she was a good mother.” She added that Jacquelyn had always been very smart and loved poetry.