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.
This is just the most heartbreaking thing ever. What a beautiful smile she had. She just radiated kindness. My god. Her poor family. My heart just aches💔— Lulu Says (@lulu_says2) December 4, 2018
This story breaks my heart. She looks like she was a kind woman. It’s horrible that as she was doing a kind deed her life was taken away from her..😢 May she Rest In Peace..🙏🏼— Fiesty (@candy76_lor) December 4, 2018
This shit makes me sick! What has the world come to???— Miguel 🦋 (@miiguelv2) December 5, 2018
The tragic story is making many think twice about giving to panhandlers in the future.
This story struck my heart. I’ve done this a 1k times. But will think twice before ever doing again. To J.S. family I hope her death gets people “woke” to change! https://t.co/ZbFqkLsdF9— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) December 4, 2018
It's a shame that people who are truly destitute and in need of help are being upstaged by criminals preying on kind hearted people who are trying to do the right thing. That makes it hard to trust anyone 😕— hesouttamylife (@Ilive4u4me) December 4, 2018
I do it all the time and I never thought about being stabbed to death those who have good in their hearts are not thinking about any danger to themselves. RIP rest in peace Mrs. Smith.— Mas (@Mas5665) December 4, 2018
Ive done this a lot but I’ll be afraid to ever do so again— Sandy J. Strong (@SandyJStrong) December 4, 2018
In the wake of his wife’s death, Keith Smith is calling for a law to ban panhandling in parts of the city.
The husband of Jacquelyn Smith says he is pushing for a law to ban panhandling and soliciting at Baltimore intersections.— ABC 13 News - WSET (@ABC13News) December 4, 2018
Does this make you think differently about giving money to panhandlers? https://t.co/vsV9WkjlLn pic.twitter.com/TTvW9DtFia
This is incredibly heartbreaking. It is difficult to go one block in Baltimore without at least one person approaching you. I never feel safe. Yes, ban panhandling, but we need to get to the root of the drug problem, addiction, and homelessness in Baltimore and fix it.— TD (@TweeterD24) December 4, 2018
Ban It EVERY WHERE MAN— Joanne Noce (@a3692358a) December 5, 2018
This is *long* overdue.— The Angriest PhD (@PissedPhD) December 5, 2018
It should be against the law everywhere!!!!! This is so tragic!— American Patriot (@AmericaUSA2020) December 5, 2018
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.”