Surveillance video catches suspect stealing dead woman’s purse

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita, Kansas police are searching for a suspect who stole a dead woman’s purse over the weekend.

It happened early Saturday around 7:15 a.m in the 900 block of North Market. A person called 911 to report a woman was unresponsive.

Medical crews and officers arrived and found that Beverly Smith had collapsed and died. Later, investigators determined that an unknown woman stole Smith’s purse from security video. The woman left walking southbound on Market Street.

The victim’s family is in shock.

“She is, I’m sorry, she was a very giving person,” said Smith’s sister Theda Ponder.

Ponder said her baby sister would light up a room.

“A people person. She always saw the positive side to things,” Ponder said.

Smith, 50, was active in her Wichita church. Her friends said she would do anything for people in need. However, all of those things are memories now.

“It’s hard you know. You blame yourself, like why wasn’t I there? I should have been there. This wouldn’t have happened if i was there,” said Smith’s friend Kim Mosley.

Smith lost her life outside the Interfaith apartments Saturday morning. As she tried to open the front door, she collapsed. Smith’s family suspects she suffered a heart attack.

Shortly after the incident, Wichita police said surveillance video caught a woman walking near Smith’s body.

“I would think that you would try and help a stranger,” said Ponder.

Instead, the security video shows the woman doing a quick scan of the property, then it shows her taking Smith’s purse and keys.

“She was a grandmother, she was a mother, she was a friend, she was a church sister, and she left her. She left her,” Mosley said.

“Why? Why would you?” Ponder said.

That’s a question Ryan Lacascio is still asking himself.

“It just shames me to live in a city where people would do that,” Lacascio said.

Lacascio found Smith’s body not long after the suspect got away. He called for help, but it was too late.

Ponder is thankful for what Lacascio did. However, she has not come to terms with what the thief did to her sister.

“She could have tried to do something to help her. She chose not to,” Ponder said.

The suspect is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs about 130 pounds. She has long hair and was wearing a dark-colored sports jacket and black pants.

If anyone has any information on the crime, please call investigations at 268-4136 or Crime Stoppers at 267-2111.

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