The brother of a woman whose fatal stabbing was pinned on a Baltimore panhandler said he wasn’t all that surprised when his sister’s husband and stepdaughter were arrested in connection to the deadly attack.
“I always thought that they were involved,” Marcel Trisvan, told ABC News of his brother-in-law Keith Smith and Smith’s daughter, Valeria Smith, 28.
“It was just something about their story and how they claimed it unfolded and the details,” he added. “I never believed it, just never made sense.”
Trisvan’s sister, Jacquelyn Smith, died Dec. 1 after her husband claimed she was robbed, then fatally stabbed by a panhandler she was attempting to give money to. Keith Smith told police that his wife had spotted the beggar, a woman who appeared to be holding a baby, and urged him to pull over so she could hand her $10.
That’s when a man supposedly approached their vehicle and struggled to take Jacquelyn Smith’s purse after she’d rolled down the passenger side window. He fatally stabbed the 54-year-old before running off with the female panhandler.
The heartbreaking story gained national attention and prompted even the most generous givers to think twice about giving to panhandlers. On Sunday, however, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, revealed that the story told by Keith and Valeria Smith was “not true.”
The father-daughter duo was arrested in Harlingen, Texas, near the Mexico border, and both charged with first-degree murder in Jacquelyn Smith’s slaying. Authorities haven’t determined a motive, nor have they said how it was determined Keith and Valeria were involved in the killing.
As reported by ABC News, the pair isn’t expected to be extradited to Maryland right away, and it’s unclear if they’ve retained legal counsel. The two are being held at the Cameron County, Texas, Jail without bail and will remain there for the time being, Cameron County Sheriff’s Office officials said.
When asked what he would like to see happen to his sister’s killers, Trisvan suggested life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“They conspired in such a way with little remorse for anybody,” he told ABC News in an interview.
The grieving brother said he and other relatives immediately knew something was off about Keith Smith’s account of that night’s events, particularly the part where he claimed he had pulled over on a dark street in Baltimore just after midnight so that his wife could hand the panhandler some cash.
After the killing, Keith told police and the media that the male panhandler had stabbed his wife and snatched her necklace after thanking her for the money. That’s when the woman panhandler reached inside the car and stole her purse before fleeing, allegedly.
“My first question was, ‘What man puts the window down on his wife that time of night in Baltimore, or in any city?’” Trisvan recalled. “I was thinking, ‘OK then why didn’t you stomp off? Why you didn’t you push the guy and drive off? [Smith] said, ‘I froze.’”
Another red flag, Trisvan said, was the claim that the couple was on their way home from a night out after celebrating Valeria’s 28th birthday. Keith Smith claimed his daughter was in the back seat when the fatal stabbing occurred.
“My sister and his daughter didn’t get along,” Trisvan told ABC News. “And so the fact that they were in the car together raised an eyebrow for me and my family.”
Not long after the killing, Trisvan said he stopped by his sister’s Aberdeen, Md., home to find Keith Smith packing his things for a trip to Florida.
“I guess Florida was a decoy,” he said.
The investigation into Jacquelyn Smith’s death is ongoing.