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Susan Smith Expresses ‘Great Remorse’ for Drowning Her Young Sons

November 10, 1994 GMT

UNION, S.C. (AP) _ Susan Smith has expressed ″great remorse″ to her jailers for drowning her two young sons, a source said.

The law enforcement source, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, gave no details of Mrs. Smith’s emotional state as she remains in isolation in prison, charged with two counts of murder.

Neither her attorney nor corrections officials would comment. A judge has asked officials to keep silent about details of the case.

Mrs. Smith confessed to letting her car roll down a boat ramp into a lake while 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alex Smith were strapped in their safety seats. The confession on Nov. 3 came nine days after she reported the boys were kidnapped by a black carjacker.

She made a spoken confession, then a slightly different written one, The State newspaper in Columbia reported, citing anonymous law enforcement sources. In the first, she told police her oldest son woke up when the interior light came on as she stepped from her car at John D. Long Lake on Oct. 25.

″She got out of that car and the older little boy woke up - his eyes popped open and he started struggling to get out of the car seat,″ the source said. ″And she let the car roll down to the water. She didn’t stand up there and watch the kids flailing.″

Newsweek magazine, in its Nov. 14 issue, also reported that Mrs. Smith watched Michael struggle to get out of his safety seat. But the account was denied by her lawyer, David Bruck, and State Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stewart.

Law enforcement sources disagreed today on how the confession was obtained.

On the morning Mrs. Smith confessed, investigators said they couldn’t prove she killed the children. So Union County Sheriff Howard Wells threatened to tell the media about inconsistencies in her story, The State quoted one of its sources as saying.

″Of course, he couldn’t do that. He bluffed her. She broke down,″ the newspaper’s source said.

A law enforcement source who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity said no such bluff or threat occurred.

Days before the arrest, Wells had already told at least one newspaper that Mrs. Smith’s story had inconsistancies. And there were published reports quoting sources as saying that she failed one lie detector test and had trouble on the second when asked, ″Do you know where the children are?″

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The AP source said investigators would question Mrs. Smith, then consult with behavioral science experts on the investigative team on new approaches to the interrogation. ″They come up with ploys to use ... ways to phrase questions,″ the source said.

The source would not say what specific ″ploys″ were used but denied there was a threat to go to the news media.

Barbara Benson, the boys’ paternal grandmother, read excerpts from Mrs. Smith’s diary on ″A Current Affair,″ describing how happy she was after her first child was born.

″It was truly the most wonderful experience of my life when I heard Michael’s first cry,″ Mrs. Benson quoted the diary as saying.