Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Susan Smith: Child Murderer or Victim?

The Letter

The beginning of the letter read, "You will, without a doubt, make some lucky man a great wife. But unfortunately, it wont be me." Another passage began, "Susan, I could really fall for you. You have some endearing qualities about you, and I think that you are a terrific person. But like I have told you before, there are some things about you that arent suited for me, and yes, I am speaking about your children." The letter was a mixture of a "Dear John" letter and a pep talk. The letter was dated October 17, 1994 and was written on a word processor and had the appearance of a formal, business document. The writer was Tom Findlay, 27, the son of the owner of Conso Products, the largest employer in Union, South Carolina. Tom was considered by some to be Unions most eligible bachelor, although when judged strictly on his physical appearance, Tom was average. Toms hair was thinning and his facial features were indistinct. The letter was addressed to Susan Smith, a secretary at Conso, and a woman Tom Findlay had dated on and off in 1994.

Letters to and from Susan Smith and Tom Findlay (AP)
Letters to and from Susan Smith
and Tom Findlay (AP)
The tone of the letter was gentle and sections of the letter were flattering toward Susan. Tom wrote that he thought Susan was a great person and that he was impressed that she had enrolled in night school at the local college. Tom encouraged Susan to continue her studies. Tom also wrote that he was proud that Susan was trying to improve her life.

The "Dear John" part of the letter was where Tom explained that he was not Susans "Mr. Right" because he did not want the responsibility of caring for another mans two small children. Tom also wrote that he was afraid that their backgrounds he was a child of privilege, she was a child of a mill worker who committed suicide when his wife had divorced him were just too far apart. Tom wrote that he was upset by some of Susans behavior, especially at a hot tub party that he had recently thrown. At that party, Susan and the husband of a friend of Susans kissed and fondled each other while they were naked in Findlays hot tub. Findlay wrote, "If you want to catch a nice guy like me one day, you have to act like a nice girl." "And you know, nice girls dont sleep with married men."

Susan was furious at Tom and hurt by his rejection.



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