A Baltimore man grieving the tragic loss of his wife is speaking out, putting pressure on city leaders to find her killers and bring them to justice.
“She was just everything to me,” said Keith Smith. “My everything. We called each other soulmates.”
Authorities said Smith’s wife, Jacquelyn Smith, was killed Saturday when she rolled down her car window to give money to a woman who was asking for help feeding her baby. That’s when a man approached with the pretense of thanking Smith for giving, pulled out a knife and stabbed the 52-year-old in the chest. The pair of crooks robbed Smith of a necklace and pocketbook before fleeing the scene, according to her husband.
“They snatched her necklace, and before I knew it, the girl snatched the little pocketbook from the seat and they both ran,” he told CBS Baltimore. “I jumped out the car to run, but I heard my wife screaming, so I came back to the car.”
On Monday, Baltimore Police Department officers and detectives canvassed the area where Smith was stabbed, poring over alleyways and empty lots searching for evidence. Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said the crime was likely premeditated, adding that the pair was using the ruse of panhandling to attract would-be victims.
Tuggle said police are now cautioning the public against engaging with vagrants. However, Keith Smith wants authorities take it a step further: He wants the city to ban panhandling altogether.
“That’s what I am going to push for and I want to make it in my wife’s name, Jacquelyn Smith,” Keith Smith said. “She didn’t die in vain. I am gonna make sure she didn’t.”
Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello said he’d be open to hearing Smith’s proposition, WMAR 2 News reported. After mounting from complaints from drivers and local businesses, Costello acknowledged it might be time do something about monetary solicitation.
“It is beyond a boiling point,” he said. “We were at a boiling point far before this tragic incident occurred.”
Healthcare for the Homeless president Kevin Lindamood urged the city to pump its brakes, however, and argued that a public ban would only exacerbate the issue. Lindamood added that such a law would criminalize begging, possibly furthering the divide between the haves and the have-nots of society.
“That disparity, it ought to make us uncomfortable, we ought to wrestle with it and grapple with it and not try to distance ourselves from it,” he said.
Still, Keith Smith says folks should be cautious around panhandlers and hopes his warning will spare other people from experiencing his grief.
“For anybody that’s in Baltimore, be careful when we see these panhandlers out here,” he said. “Get in close proximity to your car. Because, like me, I’m from Baltimore, the last thing I thought that they were gonna take my wife’s life. And so now I gotta live with that. I gotta live with that every day.”
The suspect police are looking for is a man, possibly in his 30s, with a goatee. Metro Crime Stoppers are offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.
Watch more in the video below.