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 / Updated  / Source: TODAY
By Eun Kyung Kim

Two decades after Susan Smith was sentenced to life in jail for murdering her two young sons, the South Carolina mother who drowned her kids in a lake is speaking out, saying she never planned to kill her boys.

“I am not the monster society thinks I am. I am far from it,” Smith said in a handwritten letter she wrote to a South Carolina newspaper reporter. “Something went very wrong that night. I was not myself.”

Smith was convicted 20 years ago for strapping her two young boys into the back seat of the family car and pushing it into a nearby lake. The boys were 14-months and 3-years old at the time.

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Smith initially grabbed national headlines after appearing extremely distraught during a public appeal for help, claiming that a black man had kidnapped her children during a car jacking.

"I can't even describe what I am going through. I mean my heart just aches so bad. I can't sleep, I can't eat. I can't do anything but think about them," a tearful Smith said during a 1994 news conference.

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Days later, she confessed to police that she made up the story and had killed the boys herself.

In her letter to The State's Harrison Cahill, Smith, now 43, said that she planned to kill herself because she didn't know how to tell people that her sons were dead.

"I had planned to kill myself first and leave a note behind telling what had happened,” she said. “I didn’t believe I could face my family when the truth was revealed.”

Smith, who insists she was "a good mother" who loved her boys, also denies long-time speculation that she killed her sons to be with a man she was having an affair with at the time.

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“I have yet been able to speak on my behalf. It has been hard to listen to lie after lie and not be able to defend myself. It's frustrating to say the least,” she said.

She then concludes the letter by raising more questions.

“This is only a small piece of the story,” she said.

Smith is not eligible for parole until 2024.