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The Deaths Of Michael & Alex Smith This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   With a gun pointed at her and the order "Shut up and drive!" Susan Smith, with her two children, Michael, 3, and Alex, 14 months, proceeded to drive as the man commanded. A few miles down the road, the assailant ordered her to get out of the car. She did as was asked, but left her children in the car as the man drove off, leaving her behind.

This was the story Susan Smith of Union, South Carolina told police and the country October 25, the day her children were "kidnapped." It occurred while she was stopped at a red light heading toward a friend's house. Smith described a black man in his 20s or 30s as the one who jumped in the passenger side of her car and waved a gun at her. The people of Union, population 10,000, were in shock. How could someone take her kids?

Soon after the media grabbed hold of the story, it spread across the country. FBI, police, state troopers and thousands of volunteers searched endlessly for the missing children. In one incident, a helicopter with heat-seeking devices was used to search a national forest when someone reported hearing a child crying in the woods. No trace of the car, the kidnapper, or the children, could be found.

A few days later, Smith appeared on the Today Show. She broke down during the interview, crying for her children to be returned to her and pleading to the kidnapper to feed and take care of her boys. Later, Smith said, "I have prayed to the Lord every day. It's just so sad that someone could take such beautiful children. I have put all my trust and faith in the Lord that He will bring them home to us." Another day and yet another day passed, still no conclusive leads. Smith said, "I don't think any parent could love their children more than I do and I would never ever think about doing anything that would harm them."

Police, realizing some inconsistencies in her story, asked Smith to take a lie detector test. She failed it. "It's really painful," she said, "to have the finger pointed at you when it's your children involved." A second test was done and once again Smith failed it.

On November 3, while being questioned by police, Smith confessed to driving her car into a lake and told police where the bodies could be found. Susan Smith's car was pulled from the murky waters, the bodies of two children, later identified as Michael and Alex, were still in the back seat, dead by drowning.

Charged with two counts of murder, Smith was placed under suicide watch and sent to a women's correctional center. She was allowed only her glasses, a blanket, a pillow, and ironically, her Bible. Outside the courthouse where she was arraigned, people who had gathered a week earlier to pray for the safe return of the boys once again met to shout phrases like "Murderer!" and "Baby killer!" at Smith.

When Smith confessed, she said she had been overwhelmed by worries about money, her failed marriage to the boys' father, and a series of romantic relationships in disarray. This certainly does not justify killing her children and because of this, many argue that Smith is mentally ill. Frankly, I believe Smith is beyond the point of mental illness. What reasons can explain her actions? Certainly not a failed marriage and a broken heart. Unfortunately these problems are all too common in our society; this and many similar cases are proof of that. As the debate begins on how she should be punished, we should keep in mind the true victims of this crime: two children. Also, they leave behind a family, including a loving father. Who can imagine what they must be feeling, the horrors and sorrows of the deaths of these children must be devastating.

I have seen those who state Smith is also a victim. I cannot see the logic behind that idea. If every criminal who committed unimaginable crimes, like this one, were considered mentally ill, we would have empty jails and overburdened mental institutions. We all have ideas about her punishment, but we are neither judge nor jury. We will have to wait and see what her peers have to say. Smith goes to the grand jury on December 12. If convicted, she may face the death penalty. ?


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

LaQuasia J. said...
Jul. 24, 2009 at 10:11 pm
i hate stories like this . the person who killed the victim wants to make it seem like someone else killed them . and she made up a whole story for us to beieve her. did she really have that much time on her hands ? omg . i dont believe in the death penalty for any reason but she gets what she deserves , whatever it may be.
 
Alex C. said...
Jul. 11, 2009 at 12:22 am
I believe this is a major problem with our modern legal system. Besides the skyrocketing prison population, inefficiency of punishments i.e. 10yrs on Death Row, and preferential treatment of celebrities I.e. Nicole's 82 minutes of a 4 day sentence, we are fall to lax about the treatment of "criminally insane". The legal burden required is not nearly strict enough. Her understanding of the problems she faced, and her skillful fabrication of a story shows she was of clear mind, and that this wa... (more »)
 
birdie said...
May 28, 2009 at 12:45 pm
that was touching your doing great keep writing
 
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