Police say a woman's family used Baltimore's reputation for violent crime to try to cover up her murder

Police say family members of a Maryland woman used Baltimore's reputation for violent crime as a cover-up for a premeditated murder.

On Sunday, authorities arrested the husband and stepdaughter of 52-year-old Jacquelyn Smith in connection with her murder, the Washington Post reported. Smith was initially believed to have been stabbed to death while trying to help a homeless woman and her baby. Now police believe the story was concocted by Smith's spouse and stepchild, using the city's violent past as a cover for their crime.

The killing, which made national headlines, left many Baltimore residents in fear.
"Oftentimes we have these negative depictions about our city, and it's rather unfortunate when people take advantage of these negative depictions," State's Attorney for Baltimore Marilyn Mosby said during a news conference Sunday.

What's the backstory?

Initially, Baltimore police reported that Jacquelyn Smith was riding in a car with her family just after midnight Dec. 1, when they came in contact with a woman who was holding what appeared to be an infant and a sign that read, "Please help me feed my baby."

Smith, who was allegedly riding in the front passenger seat, rolled down her window to give the woman some money. Then, a man approached their car, thanked them, and allegedly grabbed Smith's wallet. A physical altercation occurred and the man allegedly stabbed Smith in the chest and ran off with the woman, according to initial police reports.
Keith Smith, Jacquelyn Smith's husband, called 911 and reported the stabbing, then he drove his wife to the hospital.
The woman's family told the Baltimore Sun that they were devastated by their loss. 
"I'm dealing with this one day at a time," Keith Smith, 52, told the Baltimore Sun a couple of weeks after his wife's murder. "That's the only way I can deal with it."

What do police say now?

Investigators said during the news conference that the case had taken a sinister turn.
Baltimore police said that the story about the panhandler was fabricated to cover up the murder.

"The information and the evidence points to: It was not a panhandler," Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said during the news conference. "The circumstances were very different. People took advantage of Baltimore. We want to make sure the truth comes out and justice is done."

Harrison didn't provide details about how the pair became suspects in the ongoing investigation but he pointed out that there was evidence that Keith Smith had attempted to leave the state during the investigation.

Keith Smith and his daughter, Valeria Shavon Smith, 28, were arrested Sunday morning in Harlingen, Texas. They've been charged with first-degree murder, Harrison said.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh lamented the accused killers' attempt to use Baltimore's reputation to cover their crime.

"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 news release 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."

What else?

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey had tweeted about the initial incident just days after it happened.
"This story struck my heart. I've done this a 1k times," Winfrey wrote. "But will think twice before ever doing again. To J.S. family I hope her death gets people 'woke' to change!"
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