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Family of murdered Greenbelt father, coach gets Christmas surprise from police, pays it forward to community

Father of three, Billy Owens Smith, was stabbed to death in his home in Jan. Now, his wife is giving back to struggling families with a donation drive in his name.

GREENBELT, Md. — Close to one year after Greenbelt, Maryland father of three, Billy Owens Smith was murdered in his own home, his family is forced to celebrate their first Christmas without him.

The 41-year-old youth coach was stabbed to death by three masked men, as his son watched in shock on January 17, according to Greenbelt police.

Police have since arrested and charged three young men with his murder. But this act of justice can't fill the impossible hole left behind by Smith's death.

“He was such a blessing to others," Billy's wife, Kristina Smith said. "I feel like I just need to keep his memory alive and let the world know what a good person he was and what was taken from us.”

Kristina said the holidays have been especially tough, as she and their three kids have had to figure out how to carry on traditions without Billy.

RELATED: 'He died protecting his family' | Greenbelt coach, father of 3 stabbed to death in home with son there

Credit: Kristina Smith
The Smith family poses at their oldest son's high school graduation. Billy Owens Smith (far right) was stabbed to death in January 2020.

“Trying to do those things to help keep his memory alive has helped us, but it is hard," Kristina said. "This was his favorite time of year.”

She said every year, he would buy candy canes to put on the Christmas tree and would lift up one of his kids to put the star on top of their tree. This year, she said their youngest daughter, 10-year-old Layla took care of the topper.

Then, Saturday, the Greenbelt Police gave them a surprise to lift their spirits. Kristina said a group of officers knocked on the door, and when Layla answered it, Santa opened it, followed by some officers with gifts.

"She’s 10 and it just made her day, and seeing her happy and excited made me happy, because her happiness is really how, it gets me through from day to day,” she said.

Kristina said her husband also always looked forward to giving back to the community during the holidays, so she wanted to carry on that legacy this year. 

She worked with the school where she teaches first grade, PGCPS' Cherokee Lane Elementary School, to set up a donation drive in December, with the goal of collecting money, clothing, and food to give to families in need.

"It’s helping me deal with the grief and it’s also helping families at my school that really could use the extra love and help, because it’s been tough with COVID," Kristina said. "The neighborhood my school was in has been pretty hard hit, and families are struggling.”

Credit: Kristina Smith
Kristina Smith organized a donation drive with the PGCPS elementary school where she works to collect money and goods for families in need, in her husband's name.

She said, so far, they've raised $3,000, and are still collecting. The plan is to invite 24 families who signed up to "shop" at a "store" set up with the donations after winter break.

“So many people have given me so much support and my kids so much support, so I feel like it’s just my way of paying it forward, because that’s what he would want us to do," Kristina said.

Every morning, she tells herself "I got this," just like she said Billy told everyone he met. It's her way of feeling his presence and making sure she can get her family through another year without her beloved husband.

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