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.
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.
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.
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