Susan Leigh Vaughan Smith (born September 26, 1971) is an American woman sentenced to life in prison for murdering her children. Born in Union, South Carolina, and a former student of the University of South Carolina Union, she was convicted on July 22, 1995 of murdering her two sons, 3-year-old Michael Daniel Smith, born October 10, 1991, and 14-month-old Alexander Tyler Smith, born August 5, 1993. The case gained worldwide attention shortly after it developed, due to Smith claiming that a black man stole her car and kidnapped her sons. Smith later claimed that she suffered from mental health issues that impaired her judgment.
According to the South Carolina Department of Corrections, Smith will be eligible for parole on November 4, 2024, after serving a minimum of thirty years. She is currently incarcerated at South Carolina's Leath Correctional Institution, near Greenwood.
Smith initially reported to police, on October 25, 1994, that she had been carjacked by a black man who drove away with her sons still in the car. Smith made tearfull pleas on television for the rescue and return of her children. A Usenet chain letter circulated in the following days, asking Internet users to be on the lookout for the vehicle. However, nine days later, following an intensive, heavily publicized investigation and a nationwide search, Smith eventually confessed to letting her 1990 Mazda Protegé roll into nearby John D. Long Lake, drowning her children inside. (34°46′26″N 81°30′52″W / 34.77389°N 81.51444°W / 34.77389; -81.51444)