Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Women Who Kill: Part Two

Mothers Who Kill: Susan Smith

While Susan Smith long held the title for the most famous murdering mother, she lost it to Andrea Pia Yates in 2001.

Susan Smith
Susan Smith

On October 25, 1994, Smith drove to John D. Long Lake outside Union, South Carolina, to contemplate a letter written to her by her married lover: he did not want to see her any longer. She claims she attributed this to the fact that she had two children by another man, her former husband, which her lover did not want around. To Smith's mind, there was only one thing to do.

She parked on the gravel boat ramp and thought about what to do while Michael, three, and Alex, age 14 months, were asleep in the back. She had to kill them both, she believed, and then herself — or so she claimed. Smith put the car into neutral and felt it move toward the water. She got out, hesitated, and then reached into the car to release the emergency brake. The Mazda, lights still on, rolled forward into the water. Alex and Michael were securely strapped in. It would all be over in moments.

Smith watched as the car floated and filled with water. Finally it went under and she ran to a nearby house, screaming that a black man had accosted her at a traffic light and taken her car with her sons inside. It wasn't long before investigators figured out what she had done, found the car, and brought the two small bodies out of the water. Smith was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

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