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You may not remember her name, but you certainly remember her crime.
On October 25, 1994, Susan Smith, then a 23-year-old mother of two, told police that a black man carjacked her and drove off with her two young sons - Michael, 3, and Alex, who was only 14 months old. Smith spent more than a week on national television tearfully pleading for her sons' safe return. The country was enthralled.
But detectives reportedly doubted Smith's story immediately and hoped that she knew would tell them where her sons were and that they were still alive. Investigators searched the ponds and lakes near Smith's home, but initial searches found nothing. Part of what led police to finally determine Smith had lied was her claim about how the carjacking occurred. Smith claimed she had stopped at a red light at an empty intersection, but police determined the light would not have turned red unless there was another vehicle on the crossroad. Smith, however, claimed there were no other vehicles around when she was carjacked.
Faced with these facts and police skepticism, Smith admitted that she had not been carjacked and that she had actually left her two sons strapped into her car and let it roll into John D. Long Lake. Her sons were later found in the vehicle.
People wondered what could possibly drive a mother to do such a thing to her own children, and they soon had their answer. Prosecutors argued at her trial that Smith killed her children because she was dating a man who didn't want kids. The defense, meanwhile, argued that Smith suffered from mental health issues and had intended to kill herself with her kids but that she jumped out at the last minute.
A jury found Smith guilty of murdering her kids in just two and a half hours, but later refused to impose the death penalty.
That decision means Smith will be eligible for parole in 2024, and People reported that Smith has a long-distance boyfriend with whom she wants to start her life with should she be granted parole.
Smith detailed her intentions in letters to the boyfriend, according to People, which saw parts of two of the letters Smith has sent.
"We're going to have amazing chemistry in person,"
she wrote in one letter, according to the outlet. "I can't wait to build a life with you. Leave the past mistakes behind and start fresh, just you and me."
Her boyfriend is in his mid 40s (Smith is now 50) and reportedly lives outside Columbia, South Carolina. He reportedly began sending letters to Smith after seeing a documentary about her.
People explained that Smith has had numerous disciplinary issues while in prison, "including illicit drug use, self-mutilation and sexual contact with a guard."
In 2015, however, she wrote a letter to The State claiming that she was "not the monster society thinks I am."
"Something went very wrong that night. I was not myself,"
she claimed. "I was a good mother and I loved my boys. There was no motive as it was not even a planned event. I was not in my right mind."
The father of the two boys, Smith's ex-husband David Smith, will likely object to her parole if it comes around. In 2010 he told People that he still hadn't recovered from the pain of losing his sons.
"There's always this nagging and gnawing heartache,"
David Smith told the outlet at the time. "It's there every day, even if I'm not always conscious of it."
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