The husband of a Maryland woman stabbed to death by a panhandler’s accomplice in Baltimore says he’s now dedicated to seeking justice in the aftermath of the brutal attack sparked by his bride’s generous nature.
Keith Smith, 52, warned of the dangers of allowing strangers into what he called one’s “safe zone” after his wife Jacquelyn Smith, 54, was murdered Saturday after donating $10 to a woman asking for help feeding her child.
“She was trying to help someone out,” Keith told ABC News. “I think the reality is, we forget about the times that we’re living in. You may have the best intentions on helping this person, but when you let a person get into your safe zone, you’re actually opening yourself up to whatever this person has intended for. . . . For most people, the last thing you’re going to think about is that this person is about to take your life for a few dollars.”
The Smiths, who were married for five years, had been celebrating the 28th birthday of Keith’s daughter with a night of dancing.
As they headed home through an East Baltimore neighborhood, Jacquelyn noticed a woman standing on the side of the road holding a cardboard sign that read, “Help me feed my baby, God bless,” and what appeared to be a small child.
“My wife, like any normal person, felt sorry for the baby, which turned out not to even be a baby,” he said. “It must have been a stuffed animal or something wrapped in a blanket.”
Keith pulled the car over so Jacquelyn could donate $10, but once he did, a man standing next to the woman approached the car’s rolled-down window and grabbed Jacquelyn’s necklace before stabbing her in the chest.
Keith told ABC that the woman who’d been asking for money then stole Jacquelyn’s purse and ran off.
“I don’t want to beat myself up, but I feel somewhat responsible for letting that person get that close to my wife,” he said, growing emotional. “It’s just a lot right now going through my mind. That’s why it’s hard for me to sleep because I’m now trying to see how I could have did things differently, how I could have took another street. I’m just thinking of all kinds of ways that my wife would still be here.”
Jacquelyn, an electrical engineer, was rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she was pronounced dead two hours later.
Authorities said at a news conference Monday that detectives are still working to identify the two suspects in Jacquelyn’s murder.