Skip to main content
Susan Smith

Susan Smith

  • Publish date:
Susan Smith is best known for her murder of her two sons in order to carry on a relationship with a wealthy man.

Who Is Susan Smith?

On October 25, 1994, Susan Smith claimed to have been carjacked by an African American man, with her boys in the car. She later confessed to drowning them and was sentenced to life.

Early Life

Born Susan Leigh Vaughan on September 26, 1971, in Union, South Carolina. Smith had a troubled upbringing; her parents' relationship was often violent and soon after their divorce, her father committed suicide. Her mother quickly remarried a man who sexually abused Susan.

Murder of Her Sons

On October 25, 1994, Smith contacted the police saying she had been carjacked by an African American man who fled with her two young sons in the car. After she made emotional pleas on television for the safe return of her children, the incident gained media attention and sympathy from around the world. However, nine days later, Smith admitted that she had pushed her car into nearby John D. Long Lake, drowning her sons, 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alexander, who were strapped into their car seats inside.

Contempt for Smith was overwhelming, not only because of the racial tension ignited for the false accusation of a Black man but because her alleged motive was to get rid of her children in order to carry on a relationship with a wealthy man who wasn't interested in a woman with sons.

Scroll to Continue


WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 02:  Ranking member U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) questions U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as he testifies at a hearing on receiving 'the Monetary Policy Report to the Congress required under the Humphrey-Hawkins Act' at the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. Bernanke reportedly defended the Federal Reserves monetary policy against criticism from Republicans.  (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images)

Barney Frank

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 02:  Actor  Ben Whishaw attends the 48th New York Film Festival premiere of 'The Tempest' at Alice Tully Hall on October 2, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ben Whishaw

Ben Whishaw


Tammy Baldwin

Trial and Sentence

During her trial, Smith's stepfather, Republican Party and Christian Coalition leader Beverly Russell, testified that he had sexually molested Susan when she was a teenager and again in the months leading up to her drowning the boys. She was spared the death penalty and sentenced to life in prison. Smith is serving her sentence at Leath Correctional Institution in South Carolina and will be eligible for parole in 2024, after serving a minimum of 30 years.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!