“I felt I had to end our lives to protect us from any grief or harm”
Susan Leigh Vaughan was born on 26 September 1971 in Union, South Carolina. She married David Smith (born 27 July 1970) on 15 March 1991 and on 10 October that year she gave birth to Michael Daniel Smith and, a little under two years later, Alexander Tyler Smith followed.
She worked at Conso Products, the largest employer in Union, South Carolina and, after splitting from her husband, began an affair with co-worker Tom Findlay, a 27-year-old rich bachelor who was the son of the owner of Conso Products.
However, he did not want to raise her sons and wrote her several letters, one of which read, in part, “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 aren’t suited for me, and yes, I am speaking about your children.”
Eight days later, at 9.12pm on 25 October 1994 she told police that she had been carjacked by a black man and that he had driven away with her sons in her 1990 burgundy Mazda Protege. She made tearful appeals on television for her sons to be returned. An appeal was also made on the internet asking for help. After nine days of police investigation Smith, then 23, confessed on 3 November. There had been no carjacking, no black man.
She had driven to John D. Long Lake, locked the car with her young sons inside and pushed the car into the water where both boys drowned. She wrote a detailed explanation for her actions: “I was very emotionally distraught. I didn’t want to live anymore!… I felt I couldn’t be a good mom anymore, but I didn’t want my children to grow up without a mom. I felt I had to end our lives to protect us from any grief or harm… I was in love with someone very much, but he didn’t love me and never would. I had a very difficult time accepting that… When I was at John D. Long Lake, I had never felt so scared and unsure as I did then. I wanted to end my life so bad… I… got out of the car and stood by the car a nervous wreck. I dropped to the lowest point when I allowed my children to go down that ramp into the water without me… I love my children with all my [heart]. That will never change… My children, Michael and Alex, are with our Heavenly Father now, and I know that they will never be hurt again. As a mom, that means more than words could ever say… I have put my total faith in God, and he will take care of me.”
John D. Long Lake, Union, South Carolina, USA
Tuesday 25 October 1994
Smith’s trial began on 19 July 1995 at the Union County Courthouse. At 7.55pm on 22 July, after deliberating for two and a half hours, the jury returned a verdict of guilty of two counts of murder. At 4.45pm on 27July Smith was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She will be eligible for parole on 4 November 2024.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Smith has had sex with at least two prison warders and in 2003 advertised on a dating website for convicts.