Michael Daniel Smith
October 10, 1991 - October 25, 1994
Find A Grave Memorial
Alex Tyler Smith
August 5, 1993 - October 25, 1994
Find A Grave Memorial

The picture of Michael and Alexander Smith which is shown above, would become well known very quickly when their mother, Susan Smith, reported them kidnapped, in October of 1994. Susan claimed a man had stolen her car with her two children strapped in their car seats in the back seat. A sketch was made of a black man wearing a dark, knit cap, a plaid jacket, jeans and dark shirt, he was said to be about 40 years old. What turned out to be the truth, would shatter the lives of many.

A letter that Susan Smith received from that man she was in love with, would change the course of her life and that of her children and family, forever:

"You will, without a doubt, make some lucky man a great wife. But unfortunately, it won't be me.

Susan, I could really fall for you. You have some endearing qualities about you and I think you
are a terrific person. But like I have told you before, there are some thing about you that aren't
suited for me, and yes, I am speaking about your children. 

If you want to catch a nice guy like me one day, you have to act like a girl. And you know,
nice girls don't sleep with married men"

The quotes above come from a letter written to Susan by Tom Findlay and was dated October 17, 1994. Tom was the son of the man who owned Conso Products and he was considered by many to be one of Union, South Carolina's most eligible bachelors. Tom and Susan had been dating on and off in the year 1994. Susan was upset and hurt by the rejection letter from Tom.

On October 25, 1994, Susan decided that her children were in the way of her life after being rejected by Tom. Susan, who was 23 years old at that time, was not yet divorced from her husband, David Smith. Susan felt rejected in every way and her children were about to pay a price for it. Susan drove to the John D. Long Lake, a place she had never been before that night. Michael and Alex were asleep in the back seat, strapped in to their car seats.

Susan parked her car on the boat ramp. Susan had intended to commit suicide, at least that is what she told people later. Putting the car in neutral, Susan could hear her children breathing in the back seat as the car began to roll towards the lake. A few yards down the ramp, Susan stepped on the brake and put on the emergency brake to stop the car from rolling and further. Susan then did the unthinkable, she opened her car door, stepped out and thought about her life before releasing the emergency break, gently closing the door and watching as the car rolled into the lake with her two children sleeping inside. The car did not sink right away, it floated on the top while it slowly filled with water. Susan watched until the car was totally gone and then turned around and ran to get help. Susan was not getting help to save the lives of her children, but to tell the story that they had been kidnapped.

Union County Sheriff Deputies and SLED agents as well as the Adam Walsh Center, would begin searching for the two missing boys, never knowing that their time was being wasted by this woman who had the nerve to call herself a mother. During this time, Susan and David stayed with Bev and Linda Russell and Susan was never left alone, being constantly comforted by family and friends. Susan made television appearances where she appeared to be crying, making all the proper noises, begging for the return of her children. Funny thing, there were never any real tears to be seen.

Oddly, when Tom Findlay called to tell Susan how sorry he was about her children being missing, Susan had quickly changed the subject to their relationship. Tom had to tell her to concentrate on finding her children. Tom would not call back. When a group of Susan's co-workers came to visit, all Susan cared about was when Tom was going to visit.

On November 3, 1994, David and Susan were to appear on three television shows. Sitting together, holding hands on the CBS This Morning, the interviewer asked Susan if she had anything to do with her boys going missing:

"I did not have anything to do with the abduction of my children. Whoever did this is a sick and
emotionally unstable person"

David was asked if he thought that was the truth and he responded:

"Yes, I believe my wife totally"

The other interviews were canceled due to David and Susan being exhausted. At 12:30 p.m., Susan lied and told her mother that David and she would be out running errands. The truth was that Sheriff Howard Wells wanted to question Susan. Dressed in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, Susan met with Sheriff Wells at about 1:40 p.m. and he asked questions about the car jacking. Sheriff Wells told Susan that he suspected her story to be a lie. Susan asked Sheriff Wells to pray with her and he did:

"Lord, we know that all things will be revealed to us in time. Susan, it's time"

Susan looked down and started to cry:

"I'm so ashamed, I am so ashamed"

Susan asked the Sheriff for his gun so she could kill herself and when he asked her why she wanted to do that, she told him that her children were not all right. Susan told him where the boys were, told about her troubles in her life and then she started to cry. More investigators came into the room and Susan began to write out her two page confession. Susan told the investigators that she loved her sons and that she never meant to hurt them and how sorry she was. Susan said that she had so much trouble during the last nine days, not telling anyone what she had done.

Arriving at the lake to make the dive to find Michael and Alex, were Curtis Jackson and Mike Gault. In a small boat, they rode out the area where they thought they would find the car. Curtis dove in and came up saying he had not found the car. The second dive produced the bottom of the car, which was resting upside down on the bottom of the lake. The light Curtis had went out and he had surface. Steve Morrow and Francis Mitchum were the next divers to arrive on the scene and with better equipment they located the car about 18 feet down in the water. All of the windows were rolled up and through the glass, the two boys could be seen. Susan was arrested and charged with two counts of murder and would face a bail hearing the next day.

While being taken to the car from the Sheriff's office for transport to the jail, Susan faced a crowd of angry people shouting "baby killer" and "murderer" at her. At 5:00 p.m., Sheriff Wells held a press conference to talk about Susan's confession and say that she had been arrested and charged with the murders of her children. No questions were answered about a motive, though it was assumed it had something to do with Tom Findlay. After the press conference, Sheriff Wells went to the lake where it took 45 minutes to pull Susan's car ot of the water. Michael and Alex were removed from the car and taken by ambulance to the University of South Caroline Medical Center in Charleston where autopsies would be performed and it would be confirmed that they had both been alive when they entered the lake. The cause of death was drowning.

The day after her confession, Scotty Vaughn, Susan's brother, made an apology to the black community:

"We apologize to all of the black citizens of Union and everywhere and hope you won't believe that
this was ever a racial issue"

Susan wrote David a letter on the night she was arrested. In the letter, Susan repeatedly told him how sorry she was and complained that her feelings were being pushed aside due to everyone be sad at that point. David was disgusted by the letter and wondered what kind of person his sister was. I have to agree with him. Susan's feelings didn't matter, she killed her children and it was a bit late to start feeling sorry for herself.

A visitation, with a closed coffin was held on November 5, 1994. On November 6, 1994, Michael and Alex were laid to rest, in the same coffin. A service was held at the Buffalo Methodist Church. The casket that Michael and Alex were buried in was white with gold trim and there was a private ceremony in the cemetery behind the church. Michael and Alex were buried next to David's brother, their uncle, Danny Smith.

After Susan's arrest, Bev and Linda Russell hired an attorney who specialized in death penalty cases, David Bruck. Before it was over, Bev and Linda would have to mortgage their house to pay for the lawyer. David agreed to represent Susan and hired Judith Clark, another expert in death penalty cases, to help him. The man who would prosecute Susan Smith, was Union County Solicitor, Thomas Pope. On November 5th, a hearing was held that would last about three minutes, before Judge Larry Peterson. Susan did not attend that hearing as she had waived her right to bail. November 18, a hearing was held with Judge John Hayes to discuss a request by Thomas Pope for Susan to undergo a psychological evaluation so it could be established if Susan was criminally responsible for killing her children and if she was competent or not. David Bruck objected citing that any information taken from the evaluation could be used against Susan later if the death penalty was on the table. After one week, Thomas Pope submitted a 58 page brief and later that month, Judge Hayes said that a decision had not been made if Susan would be giving an insanity plea and that the examination would be a premature.

On January 16, 1995, Thomas Pope made it known that he intended to seek the death penalty against Susan. Aggravating circumstances were the reason, the fact that she had killed two people with one simple act and the second being that those two people were children. On January 27, Judge William Howard issued a gag order which would stop any prejudicial information from being released by anyone involved in the case. There would be no television cameras permitted in the court room during the trial. In February, a team of Psychiatrists was hired by the defense. Dr Seymour Halleck concluded that Susan had "dependent personality disorder" and said she was a person who felt she could not do things on her own. REALLY? She seemed to be able to kill her children on her own.

In March, Judge Howard ordered Susan to be evaluated by Dr. Donald Morgan who was a psychiatrist from the University Of South Caroline. In May, David and Susan were divorced and both were awarded half of the belongings of their children and David was awarded the car in which his children had been killed, he later had that car destroyed. Before the trial started, David bruck suggested a plea of guilty in exchange for a 30 years to life without the possibility of parole. Thomas Pope did not agree to the plea stated that he had carefully deliberated and consulted with family members, which brought him to the decision to seek the death penalty against Susan.

Shortly before the start of the trial, Mark Long, the pastor at Susan's church, stated in a press conferences that Susan had become a jail house converted Christian and had been baptized. People were skeptical because it seemed very convenient for Susan to convert at this time. In July, Judge Howard ruled that Susan was fit to stand trial. The trial would start.

Several rows of seats were reserved for Susan's family and friends and several more were reserved for David's family and friends and all other seats in the courtroom were full. Judge Howard set a schedule that would begin on Monday and go through Saturday, beginning July 10. Jury selection was over very quickly and was over on July 16th. The trial was set to begin on July 18th and on that day the court house had to be cleared due to a bomb threat. The man responsible for the threat was found and arrest.

Opening statements started with Special Prosecutor Keith Giese who was assisting Thomas Pope saying that for nine days Susan Smith had looked the people of this country in the eyes and lied, begging God to return her children to her, all the while she KNEW they were at the bottom of the lake. Keith Giese stated that Susan had killed her children because she thought without them, she had a chance of getting Tom Findlay to resume their relationship. Ending the opening statement, Keith Giese asked the jurors to hold on to their common sense in the weeks to come while they were hearing about how Susan had needed to get away from her loneliness and the stress she had in her life and how she needed to get rid of her children in order to have a relationship with Tom Findlay.

The defense opening statement was given by Judy Clarke and she asked the jurors to open their hearts and look inside and find that sad, disturbed, child like Susan who has suffered a life time of sadness and was deeply depressed and felt like a failure. In her life, Susan had suffered because her father had committed suicide, her stepfather had molester her and she had tried to commit suicide herself. Judy Clark stated that Susan's body, at the last minute of her attempted suicide, had willed itself out of the car. Judy Clark asked the jury to remember that when they talk about Susan's life, they are not asking for sympathy, they are asking for understanding and they knew her lie had been wrong, but it came from a damaged person. Here we go again, her life was hard, blah blah blah, so it's understandable that she killed her children, got it!

Susan sat through her trial days either reading mail or playing with things she had in her hands and she had come to appear much older than her 23 years. When Dr Sandra Conradi, the Pathologist who had performed the autopsies on Michael and Alex, testified, she was only there for about 15 minutes since it had already been stipulated that the boys ahd died by drowning. Judge Howard had banned all pictures and talk of the condition of the bodies thinking they would be prejudicial. Sandra Conradi stated that when she had received the bodies of Michael and Alex, they were still in their car seats and were not wearing any shoes.

A defense witness, Dr Seymoure Halleck, testified that Susan suffered from depression and thoughts of suicide in the months prior to killing her children. Dr Halleck told of several sexual partners Susan had been with and of how Susan had begun drinking heavily during the same time. Susan was portrayed as a woman who was more into pleasing others and making sure they liked her, than she was into taking care of herself.

On July 22, 1995, closing arguments were taking place:

"I submit to you that they were in that car, screaming, crying, calling for their father, while the
who placed them in that car was running up the hill with her hands covering her ears.
She used the emergency brake handle like a gun and eliminated her toddlers so that she could
have a chance at a life with Tom Findlay, the man she said she loved"

Thomas Pope - Prosecutor

"Susan has never shown anything except unconditional love for her children. There was
no malice in what she did, so it was not murder. This is not a case about evil, but a case
of sadness and despair. Susan had choices in her life, but her choices were irrational
and her choices were tragic"
Judy Clarke - Defense Attorney

In a surprise move, Judge Howard upset the prosecution as well as the Smith family, by ruling on a motion that was presented by the defense to allow the jury to consider a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. WHAT THE FRICK? Involuntary manslaughter? She deliberately allowed her children to roll into the lake and die. I think Judge Howard is an IDIOT! Luckily, the jury had their heads on straight and at 7:55 p.m., after deliberating for a short two and a half hours, Susan was found guilty of both counts of murder. Susan bowed her and cried. July 24, 1995, would be the day the penalty phase of the trial would begin.

On July 25, 1995, David Smith took the stand and told of how is hopes and dreams ahd ended on October 25, 1994. David was in court, dressed in a white shirt with a plaid Mickey Mouse tie and cried while talking about  the he spent believing his sons had been kidnapped:

"I didn't know what to do. Everything I had planned on, my life with my kids was gone"

A short recess was called so that David could take a break. David did not look at Susan as she was calling to him in the courtroom telling him she was sorry. At the request of Susan Smith, the defense attorney did not question David. Video tapes were shown to the jury which contained re-enactments of the car rolling into the lake, filling with water and sinking. The tape showed that it would have taken six minutes for the car to fill up with water. Jurors were shown pictures of only the discolored and decomposing legs of Michael and Alex.

After the closing arguments had ended, Judge Howard offered Susan a change to speak to the jury, she did not. At 4:38 p.m., the jury, after two and a half hours of deliberations, came back with a unanimous vote which did not include the death penalty. Having taken the same amount of time to convict and sentence Susan, the jury had decided that Susan would never spend another day outside of the prison walls. At 4:45 p.m., Judge Howard sentenced Susan to 30 years to life. Susan would be eligible for parole in the year 2025, after serving only 30 years, she would be 53 years old at that time.

Site Creators Note:

I feel the need to add some of my thoughts to this page. I have been creating pages for children who were abused to death, for many years now. My heart breaks for each child who I add and the many who will need to be added in the future. I have known about the case of Michael and Alexander Smith for as long as it has been around and I knew I needed to add their story. Over the years, MANY people have asked me to add them.

I have no logical explanation as for why I have not added them up to this point. Each child is as precious as the other, each story is as horrific as the last, each child deserves to be remembered and honored. For some odd reason, which is hard to explain, this story haunted me from the day these two Angels died at the hands of their "mother", this story hurts my heart in a new way which I am unable to explain, even to myself.

I knew these two boys needed to be added, I knew they deserved to be added, I was just not able to do that for all these years because of the hurt in my heart for them. Reading their story, seeing the pictures, having seen it all on the news all those years ago, the feeling is unexplainable. I don't consider their story to be any worse than the others, they're all equally as bad. I just knew that adding them was going to be extremely hard on me for some reason, as I said, reasons unknown even to me.

I hope that I have done them proud!

Return To Michael And Alexander's Story
View Memorials for Michael And Alexander

Death occurred in the state of South Carolina.
(Thank you Debra for sending me this correction)

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