Notorious SC Killer Cleans Up Her Act—With Eye on Parole

Susan Smith, who drowned 2 sons in 1994, will face a parole board in November 2024
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2023 8:56 AM CDT
Notorious SC Killer Cleans Up Her Act—With Eye on Parole
In this July 26, 1995 file photo, Susan Smith arrives at the Union County Courthouse in Union, SC.   (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

Susan Smith was in her early 20s when she told police that a Black man had stolen her car, with her two young sons inside. Actually, she'd let her car roll into a lake, drowning the boys still strapped in their car seats. She was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 30 years. And now, those 30 years are nearly up. Smith, "one of the most notorious prisoners in South Carolina history," will become eligible for parole in November 2024, per People. "She says she is a different person than she used to be," a family member tells the Messenger in an exclusive interview. "She's working very hard to change the perception of her, especially when it comes to a parole board."

Though at trial it was claimed Smith killed her sons because she was dating a man who didn't want kids, she has said she doesn't know why she committed murder. She said she loved her kids but wasn't in the proper state of mind. Police said she was in the midst of a depressive, suicidal episode, per the New York Post. Smith spent the next 20 years behind bars at Leath Correctional Institution in Greenwood "romping with prison guards, taking drugs and self-harming," according to the outlet. But she's "been on her best behavior" in recent years with a parole hearing looming. Just over a year ago, Smith wrote to a boyfriend of her plan to "leave the past mistakes behind and start fresh," as People reported.

"She'll always be a manipulative person" but she's realized she needs to "start living in such a manner to prove that she's a worthy candidate for parole," Jon Ozmint, former director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, told the Post in 2020. Even so, Ozmint said it was "highly unlikely" Smith would be granted parole on her first attempt as "the emotion behind the murders carries much more weight than the probability Smith will reoffend." Even the relative who spoke to the Messenger believes Smith should remain behind bars. "I love Susan and I always will. But I loved Michael and Alex, too," the person says. "Susan took their lives away, and she doesn't deserve to get her life back." (More South Carolina stories.)

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