Susan Smith, the South Carolina mother who murdered her two young sons 25 years ago, cries every Christmas behind bars.
That’s according to a new report from PEOPLE, which cites an unnamed prison source.
“The holidays fill her with guilt and regret,” the source told the magazine. “She cries for her children every Christmas. She knows she did the most horrible thing imaginable, and it tears her up every day. She’s a tortured soul.”
Smith is an inmate at the Leath Correctional Institution in Greenwood, South Carolina, where she is serving a life sentence.
On October 25, 1994, Smith told police that a black man had carjacked her vehicle with her boys inside. Over the course of nine days, she publicly called for the children’s safe return.
But Smith later acknowledged that the story was a lie. She admitted that she rolled her vehicle into a lake with the children – Michael, 3, and Alex, 14 months – still inside.
The suspected reason: Smith, who was married, had been secretly dating a man who did not want children.
A jury later convicted Smith of two counts of murder and sentenced her to life in prison without eligibility for parole. Records obtained by PEOPLE show Smith has been the subject of multiple disciplinary actions since going to prison.
Smith has been sanctioned at least five times over the past nine years for various rule violations, including drug possession and self-mutilation.
Smith was disciplined in 2000 for having sex four times with a guard, 50-year-old Houston Cagle. He was criminally charged as a result of the relationship and served three months in jail. Then in 2001, prison captain Alfred Rowe pleaded guilty to having sex with Smith; he was required to serve probation for five years.
“No one trusts her to be alone with a guard,” the source told PEOPLE. “She spends most of her time in her cell or working, but when she’s being transported, there is always a male and female guard with her.”
Now 48 years old, Smith says she is not a bad person.
In a 2015 letter to the South Carolina newspaper The State, Smith wrote, “I am not the monster society thinks I am.”
“Something went very wrong that night. I was not myself,” Smith wrote in the letter. “I was a good mother and I loved my boys. There was no motive as it was not even a planned event. I was not in my right mind.”
Smith’s former husband and the boys’ father, David Smith, has said he has never fully healed from the loss of his two sons.
“There’s always this nagging and gnawing heartache,” David Smith told the magazine in 2010. “It’s there every day, even if I’m not always conscious of it.”
Smith works as a wardkeeper assistant in prison. She keeps a Bible and a photograph of her two sons in her cell.
PEOPLE’s source told the magazine that Smith’s crimes haunt her.
“She doesn’t talk about her boys much, but when she does, it’s always with a lot of sadness,” the source said. “She doesn’t expect anyone to forgive her, and she doesn’t look for pity. She’s still in mourning – and she’ll never stop mourning for the rest of her life.”
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[Feature Photo: Susan Smith & her children/Police Handout]