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The Trial of Convicted Child Killer Susan Smith

Did Susan Watch as the Car With Her Children Strapped Inside Sank?


Susan Smith 2007

Susan Smith 2007

Mug Shot

A Small Hand Against the Window

Before breaking the news of Susan's confession, Wells wanted to locate the bodies of the boys. A previous search of the lake had failed to turn up Susan's car, but after her confession she gave police the exact distance the car had floated out before it sank.

Divers found the car turned upside down, with the children dangling from their car seats. One diver described that he saw the small hand of one of the children pressed against a window. Also found in the car was the "Dear John" letter Ton Findlay had written.

An autopsy of the children proved that both boys were still alive when their tiny heads were submerged under water.

Who is Susan Smith Really?

Incredibly, Susan reached out to David in a letter filled with, "I'm sorry," then complained that her feelings were being overshadowed by everyone's grief. Stunned, David questioned who Susan really was and felt a brief moment of sympathy for her confused and demented state of mind.

But it did not take long for the sympathy to turn to horror as more facts about the murders of his sons surfaced. He had assumed Susan had shown mercy by killing the boys prior to pushing the car into the lake, but after finding out the truth he was haunted by images of his sons last moments, in the dark, scared, alone and drowning to death.

When he discovered Susan had supplied the police with the exact location of the car and that the car lights had been on when she lifted the break, he knew she had stayed and watched the car sinking, motivated by her desires to rebuild her relationship with the wealthy Tom Findlay.

The Trial

During the trial Susan's defense lawyers relied heavily on Susan's littered childhood of tragedy and sexual abuse which manifested itself into a lifetime of untreated depression and suicidal thoughts. They explained that her abnormal need to depend on others for happiness led to the multiple sexual relationships she was involved in during her life. The bottom-line was that Susan, as outwardly normal as she might have appeared, was in truth hiding a deep-seeded mental illness.

The prosecution showed the jury a more devious and manipulative side of Susan Smith whose only concern was her own desires. Her children had become a major handicap in Susan's ability to get what she wanted. By killing them she would not only get the sympathy of her former lover Tom Findlay, but with the children gone, it was one less reason for him to end their relationship.

Susan Smith was unresponsive during her trial except when her sons were mentioned which sometimes led to her sobbing and shaking her head as if in disbelief that the boys were dead.

The Verdit and Sentence

It took the jury two-and-a-half hours to return a verdict of guilty of two counts of murder. Much against the protest of David, Susan Smith was spared the death sentence and received 30 years to life in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 2025, when she is 53 years old. David has sworn to attend every parole hearing to try to keep Susan Smith in jail for life.


Since her incarceration at South Carolina's Leath Correctional Institution, two guards have been punished for having sex with Smith. Her sexual activity in prison was discovered after she developed a sexual transmitted disease.

Michael and Alex Smith

Michael and Alex Smith were buried together in the same casket in the Bogansville United Methodist Church cemetery on November 6, 1994, next to the grave of David's brother and the children's uncle, Danny Smith.

Next > The Dear John Letter Sent by John Findlay

Sources: South Carolina v. Susan V. Smith
Beyond All Reason: My Life With Susan Smith

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