Mother of missing sons charged with murder

Nov. 4, 1994
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UNION, S.C., Nov. 4 -- The mother of two toddlers faced charges Friday of murdering her two sons and then reporting they were abducted by a carjacker. Suspicions that Susan Smith was involved in the boys' disappearance reportedly began to grow with the discovery of a letter from her boyfriend saying he wanted to continue seeing her but didn't want any children around. The bodies of the two boys were were found Thursday in Smith's 1990 Mazda in Lake John D. Long near Union. She was jailed at an undisclosed location overnight and then taken to court in York, S.C., for a bond hearing on two counts of murder. 'Emotions are running high,' said Hugh Munn of South Carolina's State Law Enforcement Division. 'We just felt for her own safety that we would be able to watch her, that it would be better to move to some location outside of the county of Union.' Despite the precautions, Smith was heckled by onlookers as she left the jail Friday morning. The bodies of 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alexander Smith were reportedly still strapped in their carseats when the auto was dragged from the lake near Union and taken away on a flatbed truck. The lake had been searched twice before without success. 'The vehicle apparently had been submerged too deeply,' Munn said. 'Divers had been in the lake as well, but we didn't know where to look. But once we had a better idea where to zero in, it still took about an hour.'

Munn said the break in the case was the result of old-fashioned police work. 'Of course, we had to treat this as a carjacking, which we did. Our first break came yesterday. So it was just actually staying with it. There was no one particular thing,' Munn said. Union County residents who had rallied to support Susan Smith and her husband, David, 24, following the disappearance were shocked to learn that she had been charged with murder. Many of the townspeople in Union had lined the streets with yellow ribbons in support of the missing boys, and had also sold the ribbons to travelers to raise money for the couple. The ribbons were gone Friday morning. 'I feel so betrayed because I trusted her. And I've been telling everybody she couldn't do such a thing,' said Sarah Singleton, the dead boys' great-grandmother. The ordeal began Oct. 25 when Susan Smith told authorities a man armed with a gun commandeered her car and eventually drove off with her children still in their carseats after he forced her out of the vehicle. While authorities searching for the burgundy Mazda Protege followed leads in Seattle, Atlanta, Macon, Ga., and Bessemer, Ala., they continued investigating near the site of the abduction. That investigation included a search of Susan Smith's home Wednesday, following reports that her answers in two lie-detector tests showed inconsistencies.

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