Oprah can't talk to Smith: Gov.-elect Haley denies interview with killer mom

Susan Smith (left), Gov.-elect Nikki Haley (middle), Oprah Winfrey (right)

COLUMBIA -- Gov.-elect Nikki Haley won't give Susan Smith a chance to tell Oprah Winfrey's nearly 6 million viewers what life is like behind bars for killing her two young sons.

Haley on Thursday said she wouldn't grant Winfrey access to Smith, continuing the state Department of Corrections' long-standing policy of barring inmates from giving interviews.

"While Gov.-elect Haley has great respect for Oprah, let's be clear: Ms. Smith got enough press when she killed her two children and lied about it to the country," Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said. "South Carolina suffered enough from this tragedy, and we are now focused on the positives in our great state."

Winfrey told her audience during her show that aired Wednesday that she has been trying to land an interview with Smith for years and had hoped to speak to the woman for her last season. Efforts to reach Winfrey or her staff Thursday were not successful, but she told readers in the

April edition of The Oprah Magazine that Smith is on the list of her most sought-after interviews.

"Not because of the horrificness of what she did, but because she changed the way we look at parents in this country," Winfrey told the magazine. "When somebody comes forward and says, 'My child is missing,' we now suspect the parents first. She changed the paradigm."

Winfrey's latest comments came on a show about the behind-the-scenes efforts that go into creating an episode. A "docuseries" called "Season 25: Oprah Behind The Scenes" of the making of her final season will air on Winfrey's cable network, OWN, when it launches Saturday.

Erin Sermeus, Winfrey's manager for bookings and talent relations, said she had new hope for an interview with Smith, because South Carolina has a new governor. Winfrey gave Haley a shout-out, appealing to her for the chance to talk to Smith.

"To the governor of South Carolina, I would like to say ..." Winfrey quipped.

Smith, who is serving time in a prison near Greenwood, is up for parole on Nov. 4, 2024. She was convicted in 1995 of the murders of her boys, 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alex. The children disappeared on Oct. 25, 1994, in Union. Smith, who is white, first told police that she had been carjacked by a black man who kidnapped the boys, causing a manhunt, but she had killed her sons by rolling her car into a lake.

Winfrey has interviewed Smith's ex-husband, David, in the past. In September, the family members of Shaquan Duley of Orangeburg appeared on the show. Duley is accused of suffocating her two toddlers in August and leaving their bodies in a car that she sank into the Edisto River. Duley's family told Winfrey the 29-year-old mother was in a manic state when the alleged crime took place.

"She was highly upset, raging, acting like a crazy person, nothing like I've ever seen her before," Helen Duley said of her daughter on the show, according to The Associated Press. "She was depressed about not having a means to take care of the children."

Reach Yvonne Wenger at 803-926-7855.

Sign up for updates!

Get the latest political news from The Post and Courier in your inbox.