|Born||Susan Leigh Vaughan
September 26, 1971
Union, South Carolina
|Life imprisonment with a possibility of parole after 30 years|
|Incarcerated at Leath Correctional Institution|
|Spouse(s)||David Smith (March 15, 1991 - May 1995)|
|Children||Michael Daniel, b. October 10, 1991 (aged 3 at death)
Alexander Tyler, b. August 5, 1993 (aged 1 at death)
Both children deceased October 25, 1994
|Parents||Linda and Harry Vaughan|
|Conviction(s)||Two counts of murder|
Susan Leigh Vaughan Smith (born September 26, 1971) is an American criminal who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering her children. Born in Union, South Carolina, and a former student of the University of South Carolina Union, she was convicted on July 22, 1995 for murdering her two sons, 3-year-old Michael Daniel Smith, born October 10, 1991, and 14-month-old Alexander Tyler Smith, born August 5, 1993. The case gained worldwide attention shortly after it developed, due to her claim that a black man carjacked her and kidnapped her sons. Her defense attorneys presented expert testimony that she suffered from mental health issues that impaired her judgment when she committed the crimes.
According to the South Carolina Department of Corrections, Smith will be eligible for parole on November 4, 2024, after serving a minimum of thirty years. She is incarcerated at South Carolina's Leath Correctional Institution, near Greenwood.
On October 25, 1994, Smith reported to police that she had been carjacked by a black man who drove away with her sons still in the car. For nine days, she made dramatic pleas on national television for the rescue and return of her children. However, following an intensive investigation and a nationwide search, on November 3, 1994, Smith confessed to letting her 1990 Mazda Protegé roll into nearby John D. Long Lake, drowning her children inside.
Smith's defense psychiatrist diagnosed her with dependent personality disorder and major depression. Her biological father committed suicide when she was 6 years old, and she rarely had a stable home life. It was disclosed in her trial that Smith was molested in her teens by her stepfather, who not only admitted to it, but also revealed that he had consensual sex with her as an adult. At 13, she attempted suicide. After graduating from high school in 1989, she made a second attempt to end her own life. Susan married David Smith and had the two children, but the relationship was rocky due to mutual allegations of infidelity, and the couple separated several times. Smith was in a relationship with a wealthy man named Tom Findlay who did not want children in his life. She killed her children in order to be able to continue the relationship and so that he would look after her.
At one time, she was incarcerated in the Administrative Segregation Unit in the Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina. While she has been in prison, two correctional officers have been punished for having sex with Smith: Lt. Houston Cagle and Capt. Alfred R. Rowe, Jr. Consequently, she was moved to a prison in Greenwood where she is currently held. In 2003, she placed a personal ad at WriteAPrisoner.com, which has since been retracted.
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- Eady, Cornelius (2001). Brutal Imaginations. New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-39914720-9.
- Rekers, George (September 1995). Susan Smith: Victim or Murderer. Glenbridge Publishing. ISBN 0-944435-38-6.
- Russell, Linda; Stephens, Shirley (April 2000). My Daughter Susan Smith. Authors Book Nook. ISBN 978-0-9701076-1-9.
- Smith, David (July 1995). Beyond All Reason: My Life With Susan Smith. Zebra. ISBN 978-0-8217-5220-3.
- South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED); SLED Latent Print and Crime Scene Worksheet: Floatation Characteristics of 1990 Mazda Protege; May 24, 1995
- Rekers, George (1996). Susan Smith: Victim Or Murderer. Glenbridge Publishing Ltd. pp. 12, 16. ISBN 0-944435-38-6.
- Spitz, D.J. (2006): Investigation of Bodies in Water. In: Spitz, W.U. & Spitz, D.J. (eds): Spitz and Fisher’s Medicolegal Investigation of Death. Guideline for the Application of Pathology to Crime Investigations (Fourth edition), Charles C. Thomas, pp.: 846-881; Springfield, Illinois.
- "Inmate Details Susan Smith." (Page Archive, Image Archive) South Carolina Department of Corrections. Retrieved on 2007-11-22.
- Charles Montaldo. "Susan Smith — Profile of a Child Killer". About.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- Child murderer or victim?
- Pergament, Rachel. "Susan Smith Child Murderer or Victim?". truTV Crime Library. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- Hewitt, Bill. "Tears of Hate & Pity." People. March 13, 1995. Volume 43, No. 10. Retrieved on October 28, 2010.
- "Sex With Child Killer Charged Again". ABC News. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
- Susan Smith apology, WriteAPrisoner.com, July 17, 2003.
- U.S. News Year in Review - Susan Smith Trial - Dec. 28, 1995 - CNN
- Michael & Alexander Smith memorial at Findagrave