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Hundreds Bid Farewell to Slain S. Carolina Boys

November 07, 1994| From Times Wire Services

UNION, S.C. — Mourners for two children allegedly murdered by their mother in a crime that shocked the nation crowded into a small brick church Sunday to bid the boys farewell.

Hundreds more stood outside the church under a gray November sky and listened to loudspeakers broadcasting funeral services for 3-year-old Michael Smith and his 14-month-old brother, Alexander.

"Michael and Alex are home," the Rev. Bob Cato, a Baptist minister from Union, told the congregation. "I like to think of them sitting in the lap of God."

The mother of the boys, Susan Smith, was arraigned on murder charges Friday and is being held in a state prison in Columbia, S.C., under a suicide watch. Smith had claimed for nine days that the boys had been abducted in a carjacking.

Smith, said to be distraught over money problems, a failed marriage and a disappointing romance, has admitted sending the car in which the children were sleeping in their safety seats to the bottom of a lake, where they drowned, police say.

CNN, which said it obtained the mother's confession, reported that she intended to go into the lake with her children. "I dropped to the lowest when I allowed my children to go down that ramp into the water without me. I took off running and screaming, 'Oh God, oh God no. What have I done,' " the confession read.

David Bruck, Susan Smith's lawyer, confirmed the reports of the confession. But he denied a published report that she watched one of her sons struggling to get out of his safety seat as the car rolled into the lake.

Earlier Sunday, an attorney for Susan Smith told WSPA-TV that she has received death threats.

A small white coffin containing the bodies of both boys was brought into the church by pallbearers from the Holcombe Funeral Home in Buffalo.

The family of their father, David Smith, later arrived with an escort of more than a dozen police cruisers.

Blue and white ribbons hung from oaks that lined the approach to the church in Buffalo, near the Smiths' town of Union.

Funeral services began with an organ solo of "Jesus Loves Me" and went on to the Christmas carol "Away in a Manger."

After the service, David Smith, with bowed shoulders and a handkerchief stifling his sobs, followed as the coffin was wheeled from the church.

Later, about 125 people gathered at the predominantly black St. Paul Baptist Church to talk about how Union can heal the racial divisions caused by Susan Smith's original story that her sons were abducted by a black man.

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