Columbia, SC – On the 20th anniversary of her conviction for murdering her two boys, Susan Smith is explaining herself from her prison cell. She wrote a letter to The State newspaper that it published Wednesday.
Smith was convicted July 22, 1995 for killing 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alex. In October, 1994, she had told police that a black man had jumped into her car at an intersection in Union while the boys were in the car. The nation watched as she went on TV to plead for their safe return. “We love ’em. We miss ’em,” she said.
But then the truth came out—that Smith had driven to John D. Long Lake in Union County, put her car in neutral and let it roll into the lake while the boys were still strapped into their car seats.
In her letter to The State’s reporter Harrison Cahill, she wrote, “It has been hard to listen to lie after lie and not be able to defend myself. It is frustrating to say the least. Mr. Cahill, I am not the monster society thinks I am. I am far from it. Something went very wrong that night. I was not myself. I was a good mother and I loved my boys. The thing that hurts me the most is that people think I hurt my children in order to be with a man. That is so far from the truth. There was no motive as it was not even a planned event. I was not in my right mind. The only reason I lied is because I didn’t know how to tell the people who loved Michael & Alex that they would never see them again. I didn’t want to hurt them. I knew the truth would come out, but I had planned to kill myself first and leave a note behind telling what had happened. I didn’t believe I could face my family when the truth was revealed.”
Tommy Pope prosecuted Smith and got the two murder convictions. He’s now a state representative. After reading her letter in The State, he said it doesn’t bring up anything new. “I think the biggest take-away I have from reading it is she continues to focus on Susan instead of focusing on Michael and Alex,” he says.
Smith is serving a life sentence at Leath Correctional Institute, a women’s prison in Greenwood.
You can see The State’s coverage, including a video about how it got the letter, here.