Susan Smith is an American criminal who was found guilty of killing her two young sons in order to continue a relationship with a man. Susan had a troubled childhood, which was plagued with suicide attempts and traumatizing events. Her father committed suicide when she was 7 years old. She was also sexually abused by her stepfather. Her marriage, too, was a rocky affair. She separated from her husband and got back repeatedly. She soon became a mother of two children and raised them as a single mother, with her husband mostly being absent. One night in October 1994, she called up the police and said that a black man had stolen her car, with both her sons inside it. Later, investigations revealed the horrific truth that she had rolled her car into a nearby lake, drowning both her sons. While in jail, she had sex with two of her correctional officers. This led to further trouble. She is currently held in captivity in a prison in Greenwood.
Susan Smith was born Susan Leigh Vaughan Smith on September 26, 1971, in Union, South Carolina, to Linda Harrison and Harry Vaughan. She was the youngest of the three children in the family and grew up with two elder brothers.
Her parents divorced when Susan was 7 years old. Susan faced another tragedy a few weeks later. Her father committed suicide at the age of 37. The family broke apart, and this had a bad impact on young Susan’s psyche. She turned into a depressed child.
Soon, Linda married a rich businessman from her locality. The family shifted to their new house.
By the time she turned 16, she started sensing a change in her stepfather’s behavior. He was a sexual predator and would often molest her. She tried telling her mother about it, but Linda did not take her seriously. She then reached out to the department of social services, but no help came from them either.
She was popular in high school. She was also one of the most intelligent students and participated in a number of extracurricular activities. She was known to be extremely extroverted and fun-loving. In the final year of high school, she received the award for the “Friendliest Female.”
However, her stepfather continued to abuse her sexually. Soon, she turned to her school counselor, who then contacted the department of civil services. This time, they offered help. However, Susan backed out due to her mother’s fears of the family name getting maligned.
After graduating high school, Susan started working at a local store. It was later found out that in the late 1980s, she had had sexual relations with a married man, a younger co-worker, and her stepfather, simultaneously.
She had also tried to commit suicide when she was 13 years old. She made another attempt in 1988 after she had a breakup with the married man with whom she was in a sexual relationship. She took too many prescription pills and was admitted to a hospital.
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However, with the end of one relationship, another had begun to emerge. Her schoolmate David Smith started working at her store, and they both started dating. They fell in love and decided to get married, without any concrete means of survival. In March 1991, Susan got married to David. Soon, the couple moved to his house.
David’s household was going through unrest at that time, as his older brother had died a few days back and his parents were yet to recover from the loss. Soon after David and Susan moved into the house, his father attempted suicide. His mother moved to another city. Thus, the young couple was on its own.
Susan was already pregnant with David’s child when they got married, and their first son was born in October 1991. However, instead of bringing them closer, the baby created a rift between them. Susan would often ask her mother for money, and this did not sit well with David, as he did not like Linda.
By early 1992, the couple had started drifting apart. They separated soon after. Susan dated other men during this period of separation. By late 1992, she found out that she was pregnant again. Following this announcement, the couple decided to bury the hatchet and reunited soon.
Over the next few months, David and Susan continued to date other people. However, that did not affect their kids, as they got equal love from both their parents.
Susan started a new job as a bookkeeper and got in touch with a rich young man named Tom Findlay. She seduced him, and they started dating soon. However, the relationship was mostly one-sided. While Susan was serious about Tom, he treated it as a casual relationship.
Over time, Susan started obsessing over Tom and revealed some shocking truths to him. She told him about her on-going sexual affair with her stepfather and about her husband, David, with whom she was still in an on-and-off relationship. What was most shocking for Tom was the fact that she had admitted to having sexual relationships with Tom’s father. Tom was devastated and ended things with her soon.
She spent many days in a depressive state and called Tom several times. Tom did not entertain her, and this led Susan’s obsession to turn fatal. She thought he would sympathise with her and accept her if she gave away everything.
On the evening of October 25, 1994, Susan Smith drove to her house, got her sons out and strapped them in her car. She moved to the nearby John D Long Lake, drove the car onto a ramp, and watched it plunge into the lake. In order to cover up the story, she knocked on the doors of a nearby house and told the couple staying there fabricated stories about how a black man had robbed her car, with two of her children inside, and had driven away with it.
She went public with her horrific stories, to gain sympathy. At a point, the entire country was following the story. However, the authorities had their doubts over an inconclusive polygraph test. On November 3, 1994, she told the whole truth and broke down during the investigation, saying how ashamed she felt.
Trial & Punishment
The jury took about three hours to declare her guilty, and she was sentenced to life imprisonment on two counts of murder.
Susan Smith was incarcerated at the ‘Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution’ located in Columbia, South Carolina. She expressed her insatiable sexual desire even in prison and had sex with two correctional officers, which led to them being charged.
She was then taken to a prison in Greenwood. She is awaiting her parole hearing that is scheduled in 2024.