Woman’s Act Of Kindness Towards East Baltimore Panhandler Ends In Her Fatal Stabbing

Image via WMAR

What began as an act of kindness turned deadly when a Baltimore woman was stabbed after stopping to help a panhandler on her way home.

54-year old Jacquelyn Smith, an electrical engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, was driving home with her husband, Keith, after a night dancing at the American Legion in Baltimore. As they drove down the 1000 block of Valley Street, Jacquelyn noticed a young woman carrying what appeared to be a baby, holding a cardboard sign that said, “Please help me feed my baby.”

Though Keith was hesitant, Jacquelyn rolled down the passenger side window and waved the woman over when they came to a stop sign. As the woman approached Jacquelyn’s window, a man joined her. The pair thanked Jacquelyn for her generosity as they walked towards the car, but when they reached the window the man stabbed Smith in the torso before grabbing her necklace and purse.

The woman paused and said, “God bless you,” before they ran away.

Keith rushed Jacquelyn to Johns Hopkins Hospital where she died two hours later.

“She was trying to help someone out,” Keith told ABC News in an interview. “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 you.”

Keith went on:

“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.”

Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle called Smith’s killing “a heinous murder.”

Tuggle warned the public to be vigilant around panhandlers:

“They’re using this ruse as panhandlers to get the attention of their would-be victims. We also want to caution the public about engaging with panhandlers and recognizing that not all of them have honest intent. Not all of them have real need.”

On Monday, police canvassed the Johnston Square neighborhood where Smith was murdered, but so far they have no leads and are asking the public for help in identifying the suspects.

People were shaken by Smith’s death and shocked that it happened to someone who was trying to help.

The tragic story is making many think twice about giving to panhandlers in the future.

In the wake of his wife’s death, Keith Smith is calling for a law to ban panhandling in parts of the city.

Baltimore City Councilman Robert Stokes is not sure how effective a ban would be, asking “How do you move people from off the corners?”

Smith said, “I just want justice. That’s it, I just want justice for my wife.”

H/T – ABC, The Baltimore Sun, Twitter


Written by Dennis Matthew Livesey

Matt is a writer, designer, and native New Yorker. He has worked in film, where he enjoyed a brief career as a stand-in for Ian Holm; finance, where he pretended to understand his job, and real estate, where nothing remarkable happened. He writes about science, technology, and media. His work includes magazine articles, one published book, and the looming inevitability of the second.