Criminal Minds Wiki

Susan Leigh Smith (nee' Vaughan) was an American killer who was responsible for the murders of her two children, Michael Daniel, and Alexander Tyler Smith, on October 24, 1994. Leaving them strapped into their car seats, she drove her car into John D. Long Lake, where they drowned to death. Susan tried to cover up her crimes by claiming that a black man stole her car, kidnapped her sons and drove her car into the lake. Upon her conviction, she was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after serving 30 years.


Susan Smith's upbringing and childhood was rarely stable and normal as at the age of 6, Susan's father died by committing suicide and Smith herself attempted suicide at the age of 13. Her stepfather, Beverly Russell, a member of the local chapter of the Christian Coalition, reportedly molested Susan when she was a teenager and one newspaper reported that the sexual relationship between Smith and Russell continued until six months before the murders however this has never been backed up or admitted by either Susan or her stepfather.

Smith attempted again to commit suicide after graduating high school in 1989, when a married man she was having a relationship with ended the affair. She then married David Smith and had two sons named Michael Daniel Smith and Alexander Tyler Smith born respectively in 1991 and 1993. Her relationship with her husband David was not a stable one as there were constantly rumours of infidelity floating around between the two and they split up several times.

Crimes, Capture, and Incarceration[]

On the 24th of October, 1994 Susan called the police reporting that a black man had carjacked her car with her two sons inside and that she did not know where they were. She kept up the facade for nine days, making dramatic pleas on the news for the safe return of her two sons. On the 3rd November however, after a nationwide search for the kids she confessed to killing her sons. She said that she had strapped her children into the car before letting it roll into the nearby lake, John D. Long Lake, with them inside, effectively drowning them before she called the police to tell them that her sons, who were 3-years-old and 14-months-old at the time, were missing.

Following her arrest, Susan made a full confession claiming that she killed them to facilitate a new relationship with a rich man who had lived locally to Smith called Tom Findlay. Smith stated that Findlay had sent her a letter ending the relationship as he did not want children. She then went on to admit that there was not motive for the murders nor was it premeditated as she wasn't in her right state of mind when she killed her two sons.

Susan was transferred out of the correctional facility she was in after two guards were revealed to have had sexual intercourse with her, both guards having been charged accordingly.

Known Victims[]

  • October 24th, 1994:
    • Michael Daniel Smith, 3
    • Alexander Tyler Smith, 14 months

On Criminal Minds[]

  • Intro: Susan's mugshot is among the mugshots shown during the show's intro.
  • Season Three ("Seven Seconds") - While never directly mentioned or referenced in the show, Smith appears to be an inspiration for the episode's main unsub, Susan Jacobs - Both are abductors and attempted murders of children in their family (though only Smith succeeded), had unhappy marriages, were motivated by trying to stay in a relationship (with Jacobs' husband and Smith's new boyfriend accordingly), used ruses to lure their children away and get them alone, filed false police reports to divert suspicion (Jacobs copied the murder of another girl at the mall, Smith alleged a fictitious black man killed her kids), portrayed the act of a mother in distress as part of their ruses, and share the same first name.