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Larry King Live

Linda Russell Discusses Her Daughter, Susan Smith

Aired April 10, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Susan Smith did the unthinkable -- she murdered her two sons. And now she serves life in prison. Susan's mother speaks out. Linda Russell joins us in New York and we'll take your phone calls. Plus, evangelist Pat Robertson joining us from Virginia Beach.

They're both next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Pat Robertson will join in the conversation later. I'm Larry King, and our guest is Linda Russell. She's the mother of Susan Smith, who is currently inmate number 221487 in the psychiatric building at Women's Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina. She's the author of the new book "My Daughter Susan Smith." She wrote it with Shirley Stevens. There you see its cover.

We thank for coming, Linda. Why -- why did you write it?

LINDA RUSSELL, MOTHER OF SUSAN SMITH: I had to. I just could not leave that image of Susan out.

KING: You think the public had an incorrect image of her?

RUSSELL: I sure do.

KING: And you try to correct it?


KING: Was it difficult to write?

RUSSELL: It was -- yes.

KING: Because...

RUSSELL: It was emotional, yes.

KING: But do you find it like a catharsis, you get the chance to bring yourself out?

RUSSELL: I don't know. I'm a private person. That was a -- that was hard.

KING: Any regrets over doing it?

RUSSELL: Well, at times, you know?

KING: Did Susan favor your doing it?


KING: She like the book?

RUSSELL: Well, she hasn't read it yet.

KING: Why not?

RUSSELL: I couldn't mail it, so it had to come from the publisher. And it's been mailed. She just hasn't received it.

KING: You couldn't mail it?

RUSSELL: I couldn't.

KING: Because?

RUSSELL: She wasn't allowed to receive it from me.

KING: You can't send stuff to your daughter?

RUSSELL: Nothing but a letter.

KING: Oh, you can't send a package of any kind?


KING: The publisher can, and then the prison opens it, I guess?

RUSSELL: Well, they check the mail, yes.

KING: All right, let's go back to that terrible day, October 25th, 1994. Your daughter reports that her car has been stolen, right? What did you think that day?

RUSSELL: Well, I thought the car had been stolen.

KING: Totally believed her?


KING: Were you near her that day? Were you living near each other?

RUSSELL: Yes. I mean, about -- I guess we're about seven miles.

KING: I mean, but during the course of those nine days when she was reported stolen, the whole country was interested in what happened to the kids, were you seeing her a lot?

RUSSELL: Oh, she was at my house. Our -- all the family was at my house.

KING: And a did you believe her for nine days?

RUSSELL: I always believed her.

KING: Did you ever doubt it?

RUSSELL: I didn't doubt -- there were times I thought maybe they were hidden.

KING: By her?

RUSSELL: That she had them hidden/

KING: But no thought she would have harmed them.


KING: Here is -- we're going to show you a clip of Susan during those nine days. Linda writes about those in the book "My Daughter Susan Smith."



SUSAN SMITH: I want to say to my babies that your mama loves you so much and your daddy and this whole family loves you so much. And you guys have got to be strong because you are -- we -- I just know -- I just feel in my heart that you're OK. But you've got to take care of each other. And your mama and daddy are going to be right here waiting on you when you get home. I love you so much.


KING: And that's her husband, David, standing with her. Where were you when she told what really happened?

RUSSELL: I was at home.

KING: Was she there, too?

RUSSELL: No, she was at the First Baptist Church social hall, I think it was -- or family life center.

KING: Had the police started to question it now? Had they begun to doubt it?

RUSSELL: You know, I don't know what the police thought. I mean, we were in our little bubble. We weren't watching TV.

KING: You weren't?

RUSSELL: We didn't read the papers. We were out looking for Michael and Alex.

KING: Now when Susan did tell the truth, how did you hear it?

RUSSELL: More or less on TV.

KING: You turned on...

RUSSELL: That there was some type of confession.

KING: You -- what happened to -- what did you feel like?

RUSSELL: I mean, your heart is broken. I mean, how would...

KING: What did you make of it?

RUSSELL: I didn't understand. I still don't understand.

KING: Well, I mean, to hear something -- first of all, you love your grandchildren, right?

RUSSELL: Oh, yes.

KING: So when your own daughter takes the life of your own grandchildren, what does that do to the mother?

RUSSELL: It makes me know something was terribly wrong with Susan that night.

KING: And then you...

RUSSELL: Susan loved Michael and Alex, so much so that the psychiatrist said she was meshed with them, that she couldn't -- Susan loved them so much, you could not look at them as separate people, that she was so meshed.

KING: So it was like she was going down in that car, too?

RUSSELL: I think -- I think Susan was hurting and hoped, you know, just in a state of hopelessness, despair, and what she was feeling, they felt.

KING: But to take their life, as you say, to this day you'll never understand that, right?

RUSSELL: But in Susan's state of mind, I -- Susan wasn't taking their lives. I know this is hard to understand...

KING: You can explain it. We got all the time. What was she doing?

RUSSELL: She -- it was the ultimate protection of what you love most in the world. And I know it's hard to understand, but...

KING: Protection?

RUSSELL: ... send them...

KING: Send them to God?

RUSSELL: Put them right in Jesus's hands. KING: And so you think to the end that's what she thought she was doing?

RUSSELL: I sure do.

KING: Then why those nine days of hysteria and crying and looking for other people?

RUSSELL: I think to start with Susan was in shock. And then she was disassociated, you know? And then by the time, I think, sort of reality was sinking in, I mean, it had gotten -- things were so big, she didn't know how to get out of it.

KING: It got away from her?

RUSSELL: I think so.

KING: Our guest is Linda Russell, and she's written the story of her daughter, "My Daughter Susan Smith." Pat Robertson, very familiar with this case, will be joining us in a little while as well. We'll be including your phone calls. The book is now on sale.

More with Linda Russell right after this.


S. SMITH: I love them. I just can't express enough. I have been to the Lord in prayers every day with my family and by myself, with my husband. It just seems so unfair that somebody could take such -- two beautiful children. And I -- I don't understand. I -- I have put all of my trust and faith in the Lord, that he's taking care of them, that he will bring them home to us. That's all. I can't say anything else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck, y'all. Good luck.

SMITH: Thank you.




DAVID SMITH: I would like to take the time to plead to the American public that you please do not give up on these two little boys and the search for their return safe home to us. You continue to look for this car, these two -- our children, and for the suspect himself, that you continue to keep your eyes open. And anything that you see that might would help the police, call and let it be known.


KING: Because David had no idea.

Linda, the prosecution argued at the trial that Susan was a manipulator, pretended suicide attempts to gain sympathy, killed her sons because she thought they were obstacles to her relationship with some rich boyfriend. Were you in court when he said that?

RUSSELL: Well, I was in court every day.

KING: When you heard that, what did you think?

RUSSELL: Well, I don't remember hearing it, but if that's what he said, he didn't know what he was talking about.

KING: What do you think was -- do you think your daughter is mentally ill?

RUSSELL: There's not a doubt in my mind.

KING: Psychiatrists have talked to her. She's in a psychiatric wing at the hospital, right? At the prison?


KING: Is that because she's a threat to her own life?

RUSSELL: There are a lot of mentally ill inmates all over the country. And Susan's mentally ill. I mean, she's in the ward a lot more, but in the building with all the other...

KING: I mean, do psychiatrists see her frequently? Are they trying to understand?

RUSSELL: Not psychiatrists.



KING: Should she be seeing a psychiatrists frequently in your opinion?

RUSSELL: Well, that's not the way it is.

KING: No, but you think she should?

RUSSELL: Sure I'd like...

KING: All right, what do you think...

RUSSELL: I'd like for her to.

KING: You have to think about this a lot -- you've written about it. What happened in Susan's life? What do you think set her off?

RUSSELL: I think Susan probably -- and at one time I wouldn't have believed this, but I think she was probably depressed even as a young child. And I -- now I understand that that really does happen.

KING: You mean you think back and remember things? RUSSELL: Well, yes.

KING: To give you a clue? Because you have to think...

RUSSELL: The fact that Susan was so depressed and that with all of these counselors and the time in the hospital none of them diagnosed her.

KING: Did she have medical attention as a youngster? Were there anything she ever did as a kid that you said, I think something's the matter with Susan?

RUSSELL: Oh, no, I -- you know, she was spoiled, that's all.

KING: But as you reflect back, you think maybe there were some things?

RUSSELL: Well, I mean, at age 13, you know, she wrote a little note that she was going to kill herself. She'd made up her mind to kill herself, and nobody was going to stop her.

KING: Well, that should have been an immediate indication. Did she get immediate help with that?

RUSSELL: Well, the school psychologist -- counselor, she talked with her. But I thought it was just a little childish something.

KING: You've got a lot of young teenagers threaten that.


KING: Do you feel any guilt, Linda?


KING: No? That maybe you should have got her to a doctor then?

RUSSELL: I took her to doctors.

KING: And what did they say?

RUSSELL: They didn't say anything.

KING: They thought she was a normal child?


KING: The stepfather -- you're no longer married to Mr. Russell, right?


KING: Did he have a problem with Susan? I know he visited her in the hospital. Did he ever harm her in any way?

RUSSELL: No. KING: Didn't touch her in any way? Was there any physical involvement between him and her?

RUSSELL: Now obviously there was. I mean, he had admitted it. He admitted it in court. But did I see it? No.

KING: How did you feel when you heard that?

RUSSELL: Well, how would anybody feel?

KING: I mean, your life has gone through a roller coaster.

RUSSELL: That's true.

KING: How do you keep going?

RUSSELL: We either keep going or stop. I'm not ready to stop.

KING: Susan write to you?


KING: You go to see her?


KING: We'll ask about that, and then in a little while we'll bring Pat Robertson in. Pat very familiar with this case. Indeed, he even prayed with Susan's stepfather, Beverly Russell, over the loss of the boys -- found out later about the involvement during the trial. We'll talk about the church and forgiveness, as well, Some more moments with Linda and then both Linda and Pat.

The book is now everywhere. It's "My Daughter Susan Smith."

We'll be right back.


SHERIFF HOWARD WELLES, UNION COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA: Susan Smith has been arrested and will be charged with two counts of murder in connection with the deaths of her two children, Michael, 3, and Alexander, 14 months. The vehicle, a 1990 Mazda driven by Smith, was located late Thursday afternoon in lake John D. Long near Union. Two bodies were found in the vehicle's back seat. Identities are pending an autopsy.




S. SMITH: Are you recording this? Look -- give mama sugar. Oh, how sweet. You be a good boy. Look -- tell grandmama hey. Hey, hey.


KING: How is she handling prison?

RUSSELL: Well, the prison doesn't bother her, the loss of Michael and Alex does.

KING: She thinks about it all the time?


KING: How do other prisoners treat her?

RUSSELL: Oh, she gets along with everybody.

KING: She does. Does the warden like her, the guards and the officials there? Is she popular in prison? I mean, is she liked? Because normally people who harm children aren't popular in prison.

RUSSELL: Well, they have -- Susan has respect for them and they have respect for Susan.

KING: Her father killed himself, right?


KING: She was how old when that happened?


KING: Boy, Linda, you have had some life.

RUSSELL: Well...

KING: You ever think about -- a little bit like Job-like?


KING: Do you ever say to yourself, why me?


KING: What does Susan talk about, like, when you visit her?

RUSSELL: We talk about what every other mother and daughter would talk about during a visit. We talk about friends and families and what's going on with her, what's going on with me. And we talk about the children.

KING: Now she has nothing to look forward to, right? She's -- she can't be paroled. So what is -- what keeps her...

RUSSELL: Well, actually it says 30 years before parole.

KING: So she could someday be paroled and be in her 50s, right?

RUSSELL: Yes. KING: Does she look forward to that? Does she say, someday I'm going to leave here?

RUSSELL: We don't ever discuss it.

KING: Do you discuss the children?

RUSSELL: Sure, we talk about Michael and Scotty -- I mean Michael -- my son -- my children are Michael and Scotty, hers are Michael and Alex. But we talk about them all the time.

KING: All right. Now, these are your only grandchildren?

RUSSELL: I have two more.

KING: From your boys, right?

RUSSELL: From Scotty.

KING: From Scotty. You loved the grandchildren very much, so you have a mixed dilemma here because you must miss them as a grandma.

RUSSELL: Well, sure I miss them. We all miss them.

KING: And your daughter is the reason they're not here.

RUSSELL: But I miss her, too.

KING: Do you have faith then? Are you very religious?

RUSSELL: I am a Christian. Do I wear it on my sleeve? No. Am I fanatic? No.

KING: Do you believe, though, that there is a God looking at you, caring about you?

RUSSELL: I know there is.

KING: You don't ever feel anger at God?

RUSSELL: I have never, no.

KING: Don't blame God for any of this?


KING: What do you think is Susan's illness right now?

RUSSELL: I think she's still depressed. I think she's clinically depressed. She'll be on antidepressant probably for the rest of her life.

KING: We're going to take a break, and when we come back Reverend Pat Robertson will join us, the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, very familiar with this case. And Linda will remain. And Linda's book is "My Daughter Susan Smith." We'll also be including your phone calls.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The state of Susan Smith -- state versus Susan Smith, indictment for murder, allegedly Susan Smith did in Union County on or an about October the 25th, 1994, feloniously, willfully and with malice aforethought kill one Alexander Tyler Smith by means of drowning and said victim died as a result thereof.

Indictment 94GS94907, state of South Carolina versus Susan Smith, indictment for murder, that indictment is alleged that Susan Smith did in Union County on or about October 25th, 1994, feloniously, willfully and with malice aforethought kill one Michael Daniel Smith by means of drowning, and said victim died as a result thereof.

To these charge, how do you plead?

UNIDENTIFIED LAWYER: The defendant is not going to enter a plea, Your Honor, at this time.


KING: We're back with Linda Russell.

Joining us now from Virginia Beach is Pat Robertson, the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and host of the "700 Club."

Pat, I know that you -- you got involved with this by -- you know the stepfather, right?

PAT ROBERTSON, FOUNDER, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: Well, Larry, when I ran for president in 1998, Bev Russell was very active in Republican politics down in that part of South Carolina, Union County, and he was present at a number of rallies. And he was -- he's a great big guy and you couldn't miss him, so he seemed to be a very straightforward, church-going type of person.

KING: And when he -- at the trial, you learned that he had a problem with Susan. How did you feel?

ROBERTSON: Well, I tell you, I felt like a lot of people, betrayed, because I was emotionally involved with this because that woman Susan seemed so pathetic, her cry for help was so strong. People were praying for her all over the country. I know those people in Union County are very loving and supporting people. And I called Bev Russell when I heard about it, because I knew him, and I said how sorry I was to hear what happened to his stepdaughter. And I wanted -- prayed with him that somehow the Lord would assist the family in this time of crisis. And I felt I was conned. I mean, I think a lot of people did. They felt betrayed by what went on.

KING: Did you, Linda, feel betrayed by Beverly?

RUSSELL: Well, sure. KING: Were you shocked when you learned it too?


KING: Pat...


KING: ... does the church -- do you forgive Susan?

ROBERTSON: Larry, she didn't do anything to me, so I -- it's not up to me to forgive her. But, you know, God is a very forgiving God. He'll forgive double murders, he'll forgive adultery, he'll forgive all sorts of things.

I think this young girl must have been terribly wounded. To have a stepfather -- and remember, she's a little girl, and this guy is big. I mean, he's bigger than I am. He must be 6'4, 6'5, and he's a heavy-set fellow. And to think that he's molesting this child and scarring her, and then who knows what other tragedy took place? So of course she's a person who would be forgiven. She's suffered a great deal. This was a terrible thing she did, but God forgives her.

KING: In her confession, she wrote, "My children, Michael and Alex, are with our heavenly father now, and I know they'll never be hurt again. As a mom, that means more than words can ever say."

And, Linda, it's your belief that she was acting to spare them life, right? To spare them the indignities of life?

RUSSELL: Well, I think Susan was hurting. And I told you, she was meshed with them. And what she felt, they felt. I mean...

KING: How does -- do you try to rationally explain this, Pat, or can you even rationally explain it?

ROBERTSON: I think these acts of passion, it's hard to explain, except human beings are capable of all kinds of misdeeds. What was brought out in the trial was that she had a boyfriend, that he didn't want to have children, and this was an act of convenience to dispose of these children. That's what was alleged in court. I don't know what was going on in her mind.

It's hard, Larry, to understand this. I mean, it's hard to understand sin, it's hard to understand Columbine, some of the evil that's there. You know, the Bible says, Jeremiah the prophet, he says the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked, and who can know it? And deep inside of everybody, there's a lot of bad -- there are bad things. And only God himself can cleanse the heart of a human being and make it so it's righteous.

KING: Linda, you don't at all buy the story of the boyfriend, right?

RUSSELL: No, absolutely not.

KING: At all?

RUSSELL: No, uh-huh.

KING: We'll take a break, come back, and we'll include your phone calls. Pat Robertson will stay with us. Our guest is Linda Russell. The book is "My Daughter Susan Smith." You can buy it in stores or order it through the Internet on authorsbooknook -- that's one word --

We'll be right back. Don't go away.


D. SMITH: I'd just like once again to emphasize to the public that you please remember who the real victims were in this case. And it's not Susan, that Michael and Alex, the two little boys who lost their life and who are the real victims through all of this. And don't give up on those two little boys.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Mama. Hey, Mama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Say, hey, Elsie (ph).






KING: Our guests are Linda Russell, the mother of Susan Smith, who was in women's correctional institution in Columbia, South Carolina, and Pat Robertson, the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and the host of "The 700 Club."

Let's include some calls. Pittsburgh, hello.

CALLER: Yes. My question is I would like to know where was David Smith at this time in supporting Susan, and how is he supporting her now?

KING: Do you know, Linda?

RUSSELL: Well, David came out in support of the death penalty for Susan, and David knew all the time -- he played a big part in putting Susan where she was that night. Until this day, he's never taken any responsibility. KING: What do you mean he played a big part?

RUSSELL: Well, I mean, everybody's had a lot to say about my husband and Susan, but if there were -- and not that I want to sell books. But you read my book, you'll learn a lot you didn't know.

KING: You're not a fan of David's?

RUSSELL: Not at all.

KING: You don't speak?

RUSSELL: I don't never see him.

KING: Were you shocked when he supported the death penalty for his wife?

RUSSELL: Knowing David, no.

KING: Pat, do you know David?

ROBERTSON: No, I've never met him, Larry. Again, it's just one part of an unfolding tragedy. You know, as Linda is there, my heart goes out to her. And when I saw that little grandbaby in those pictures, it makes your heart break just to look at those sweet little children.


ROBERTSON: I know she feels the same way. Linda has suffered tremendously and -- in this whole thing.

RUSSELL: Pat, Susan's not an evil person.

ROBERTSON: Yes. Well, I don't doubt that. I don't know her, but something happened that was rather tragic. And the press was filled with a number of instances. But she was certainly abused, and you know...

RUSSELL: Susan...


ROBERTSON: ... did to her.

RUSSELL: By every definition of the word, Susan was a battered wife.

KING: A battered wife?

RUSSELL: Physically, mentally.

KING: By David?

RUSSELL: Sexually.

KING: By her own husband?

RUSSELL: By David. By David. Everything David ever did to my daughter, he did to his own children.

KING: I haven't heard that before. Capistrano Beach, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Mrs. Russell mentioned that Susan Smith is on the psychiatric ward. I was wondering what is her diagnosis.

KING: Have they diagnosed her? You said depression. Is that what -- did they say that?

RUSSELL: I guess the only true diagnosis Susan has ever had was the Dr. Seymour Halleck...

KING: The court?

RUSSELL: ... who was head of the psychiatric department, I think, or was at North Carolina University or somewhere.

KING: And what did he say?

RUSSELL: He said that Susan not only has a clinical depression, but the most severe dependent personality disorder that he had ever encountered.

KING: Pat, I know some elements of the church discount psychiatry. Do you?

ROBERTSON: Not a bit in the world, Larry. I don't believe necessarily in Jung and Freud and some of the analysis and some of the theories that necessarily, you know, holy writ. But I think that has been very, very helpful.

But you know, I would like to ask Linda, this matter about Susan's husband is very significant. And why was not that brought out in the trial? These things were certainly probative in relation to why she did what she did and...

KING: Agree completely.

ROBERTSON: ... and in terms of sentencing.

RUSSELL: A lot of those things were in the trial, and the media was sitting there and they didn't report it.

KING: You mean it was mentioned in trial that David had battered her or that David was abusive of her?

RUSSELL: Well, sure.

KING: And those mitigating circumstances didn't affect the sentence at all?

RUSSELL: I mean, read his own book. KING: He admitted to battering her?

RUSSELL: Well, he admitted to his girlfriend stalking her.

KING: You didn't like him in the first place, though, right? I mean, he was not your son-in-law of choice?

RUSSELL: I could -- I could see through David from the beginning.

KING: You could?

RUSSELL: And he didn't like me for that.

KING: And did you express that to Susan?

RUSSELL: Susan knew it. David didn't like me. I didn't like David.

KING: Pat, in the overall calamity of things, what does a church person do? What do you say -- if you're with Susan Smith tonight, what do you say to her?

ROBERTSON: Well, you know, Larry...

KING: What does a minister do?

ROBERTSON: You sort of go back to the words of Job. He says, "Though he slayed me, yet will I trust him." And what you do is say God is alive, He loves you, He's real. And these circumstances sometimes we bring on ourselves. Sometimes they're inflicted upon us by other people. Sometimes there are malevolent forces at work in the world. But God is good and He still loves you, and if you trust in Him, He'll carry you through it.

And I think that's what you tell Susan. That's what you tell Linda.

KING: Why should -- why should -- Linda has had a husband who killed himself...


KING: ... a daughter who killed her grandchildren. She has one son who has problems, right, of a physical nature? Her -- her second husband bothers her daughter. Why should she love God?

ROBERTSON: Because God didn't do any of those things to her, Larry. None of those things happened because of God. They happened because of evil, because of evil people, because of evil influences, but none of it came from God. And we can't attribute all the bad in the world to God. He is a good god.

And I think in terms of Linda, what we need to do and the church needs to do, her church friends, instead of shunning her -- and maybe they want to do that -- is to join together around her and support her.

They're such loving people in that community where she lives, and they need to come together and pray for her, because she has suffered, as very few people have, exquisite agony over these matters.

And I think, you know, God wants to love her and comfort her in these -- these times. And it must be extremely painful to be on this program, extremely painful to write a book and relive these things.

KING: Are you well-supported in your community?

RUSSELL: I started to say I have more friends in that town than some people ever have in a lifetime. And I had a lady stop me in a restaurant one day, and she said, I'm so glad you wrote the book. She said, we all knew there was -- something missing, something we didn't know. And she said, thank you for writing it.

KING: How do you keep your faith? You obviously agree with Pat that God didn't do any of this. But how do you keep your faith? You could say that your life hasn't been any kind of bed of roses.

RUSSELL: Well, a lot of lives aren't beds of roses, but that doesn't mean...

KING: You don't doubt your faith at all?


KING: We'll be right back with Pat Robertson and Linda Russell and more of your phone calls. On Wednesday night, the entire cast of "Law and Order" will be here. Don't go away.


KING: Did she love her children?


KING: Then obviously, David, something was really the matter and is really the matter with her.

D. SMITH: Right. I agree with that.

KING: Why should she have gotten the ultimate punishment?

D. SMITH: I know Susan was molested. I know her father committed suicide when she was young. I know she, you know, had a marriage broke up. But that happens to people every day, and they're not out there murdering their children. That's no reason to murder your children because of what happened in her past.

She had no right whatsoever to do what she did.



KING: Were you two attracted to each other immediately?

D. SMITH: Yes, we were. As soon as we -- before we even started dating, yes, we became very attracted to each other.

KING: Knew each other at what age?

D. SMITH: I think I was 19 and she must have been about 18.

KING: And how long did you go together?

D. SMITH: Six months.

KING: Did the families like the marriage? Was this, you know, one that both sides said, hey, it's a good thing?

D. SMITH: No, no. Her side -- her mother especially didn't agree with us getting married.


KING: That was David Smith. If there's one thing David and the mother agree on is that last statement. David Smith appearing on this program back in 1985 (sic).

Let's take another call for Pat Robertson and Linda Russell. Hamilton, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, Linda and Pat.


CALLER: My question is if Linda or her daughter Susan have any contact with Susan's stepfather, Bev Russell?

RUSSELL: Well, he and I live in the same town. So -- and there's still things about our divorce too that's ongoing.

KING: Oh, you're not divorced yet?

RUSSELL: Well, there's property.

KING: Issues?


KING: Does he ever contact Susan?


KING: I said 1985. I meant 1995, of course. And we go to Bethesda, Maryland, hello?

CALLER: Hi. Yes, thank you, Larry. I was just curious to know if Ms. Russell is keeping the profits from the sale of her book, or are you donating the money to charity, or what? Thank you.

RUSSELL: Well, I'll have to wait and see if there's any profits before I decide what to do with them.

KING: How do you think you know -- do you need funds?

RUSSELL: Well, you know, I know everybody's given Beverly a hard time, but now Bev is -- he's not a wealthy man, and you know, Susan's defense was $160,000, $170,000.

KING: So he didn't have much money and you don't have any money?


KING: do you work?

RUSSELL: Well, not right now.

KING: Pat, do you forgive Beverly?

ROBERTSON: One more, Larry, it's a question of what's in his heart. Has he truly repented? Is he really trying to get right with God?

You know, we all sin. There's not a person in this world that doesn't sin. I think Jesus was the only perfect person. So we're all sinners, and we all have to be forgiven by God.

And you know, pride, slander, things like this are just as bad as incest and murder. It's just in the human scale of things they're quite different, but in God's eyes, sin is sin.

And so God will forgive him, again, if he asks for it.

KING: Is Susan a believing person?


KING: Would you say very much so?

RUSSELL: Yes, I would.

KING: Enough that she believed she was sending her children to God early for their benefit?

RUSSELL: Well, I -- I think what stopped Susan -- Susan was suicidal that night. And I know all the pictures that everybody has seen of that lake. They have seen it in broad daylight. Well, it was pitch dark.

I think what stopped Susan was she thought she'd go to hell, the children were going to heaven. And all of these jumbled-up thoughts, and she would have been separated for eternity. You know?

KING: She thought...

RUSSELL: I know all of it doesn't make sense, but then Susan wasn't rational either.

KING: Pat, none of it makes sense, does it?

ROBERTSON: No, it doesn't. And I want to say very clearly that's the kind of delusional thinking we just can't put the imprimatur of Christianity over. It's just wrong to say, well, I'm going to dispatch some kids to heaven...

RUSSELL: I know.

ROBERTSON: You know, it's like what these cults do, and we just -- we can't go along with that.

You know, Larry, the big problem that really caused us all tremendous anguish, because we were all strung out -- I hate to use the term "strung out" -- but we were agonizing in prayer as she requested prayer. Please, bring my children back. And she went through this elaborate charade for day after day after day. And as I say, those people in Union County, they're so loving and they all supported her and people all over the country were supporting her.

If she'd just come teary-eyed and said, I broke, I snapped, I had a moment, I couldn't stand it any longer and I killed my kids, then that would have been one thing. But that thing went on for days and days and days with people like me and others praying for her.

KING: You'd agree with that, Linda?

RUSSELL: Well, it did. But you have to understand all of us were supporting Susan. We love her. We loved her then. We love her now.

David Bruck, Susan's lawyer, I think summed it up. He said it was as if Susan was standing on a diving board looking at an empty swimming pool. She knew she had to jump, but she had to take every one of us right in with her.

KING: We'll be right back with -- yes, I think -- I think I understand. Linda Russell with Pat Robertson, LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.






KING: Do you save all of these pictures in life? You look back at the children a lot?

RUSSELL: No. In fact, this is the first time I've been through them in five years. KING: You try not to -- ever a day go by without dwelling on this?

RUSSELL: Well, I can't dwell on it every day all day long.

KING: No, but it has to enter your mind. You see a little child.

RUSSELL: Oh, sure. I mean, I -- they're always right here.

KING: Pat, do you go to prisons a lot?

ROBERTSON: I have. I have visited prisoners. I have visited people on death row and scene them there. I don't do it a lot. I find it more difficult, but I have. And...

KING: You all remember Karla Faye Tucker, this program, and your feelings about her, and yet...


KING: ... isn't it hard to -- I don't know how the church deals with calamity of this sort. What do you say to people?

ROBERTSON: Well, what you say is that, Larry, there's sin in the world. We talk about sin and we talk about salvation. We talk about redemption. But if we don't understand that there's the world of flesh and the devil, and you know, that these things are opposed to us -- they're evil dictators. They're tyrants like Hitler. There's Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung. And there are people who have been hurting others for time immemorial, ever since Cain and Abel.

KING: They seem to be winning.

ROBERTSON: Well, no, they're not. The church is winning. God isn't losing. It's God's devil, and ultimately He's going to bring an end.

But that's why we talk about the millennium. That's why we talk about what's called the blessed hope of the church. One day Jesus is going to come back again and he's going -- there won't be any more wars or hatred and killing or bitterness. But until that time, I don't think we're going to have peace on Earth just through human endeavor, at least I haven't seen it.

KING: And when he comes back, he's going to embrace Susan Smith too, isn't he?

ROBERTSON: He sure is, Larry. There's no question about it. He's going to draw those that belong to him unto himself and it's going to be a wonderful reunion. And then the world will be at peace. And that's what I think we need to look for.

The Bible says pray for the peace of Jerusalem. But I -- you know, I pray for that peace that one day it will come to all of mankind. KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Linda Russell and Pat Robertson. If you don't have the book in your store, you can order it on the Internet.

We'll be back with our remaining moments right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you do today?

SUSAN SMITH: Well, you all have a good time (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you do today, Mike?

S. SMITH: We went swimming and we went running.



KING: We hope the book helps you understand Susan Smith more. Do you think, Linda -- and this for you too, Pat -- do you think that maybe through understanding, reasoning, belief that future Susan Smiths might be prevented?

RUSSELL: I think better education on mental illness and learn to know the symptoms and the signs and...

KING: The more we learn early signs, the better. Pat, do you think we're going to ever prevent the Susan Smiths?

ROBERTSON: Larry, I don't, unless we can -- for example, we don't know how much that molestation affected her.

KING: Right.

ROBERTSON: She was mentally disturbed, but that adds to it. And what I'm hearing now, the statistic are just simply appalling. The number of cases of child molestation in families -- it's really a mounting problem, and it's caused by so much pornography and so forth. So we have not got that problem under control at all in this nation. We need to do everything we can to fight it.

KING: The children are the innocents.


KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) not, Linda, right?

RUSSELL: Well, sure. I think Michael and Alex were the only -- quote -- "victims."

KING: Does Susan talk about them? When you say you gather and you talk about family or friends and how things are going, does she talk about Michael and Alex?

RUSSELL: Sure, she talks about them. I mean, if you can't watch these videos and...

KING: I mean, this looks like a very, very loving mother.

RUSSELL: You won't find one person anywhere that won't tell you Susan was as good a mother as any mother that's ever walked.

KING: Pat, some day we will understand the human psyche.


ROBERTSON: I -- I hope...

KING: Maybe it will take revelations.

ROBERTSON: Yes. I think it's going to take revelation of God to do it. You know, the human psyche is a great mystery I think known only unto God Himself. And we look for the opportunity to deserve it and to do what we can to bless it and to convert it. But nevertheless, until we do, there's just a lot of hatred in this world. And we want to preach love and we want to bring love and forgiveness and reconciliation. That's the message of the church, but it's got a long way to go in the this world, as you know.

KING: Thank you, Pat.

ROBERTSON: Thank you.

KING: Linda, thank you so much for coming.

RUSSELL: Thanks.

KING: I know this is not easy and I appreciate it. Pat Robertson, the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network. Linda Russell, the mother of Susan Smith, the author of "My Daughter, Susan Smith." You can get it on the Internet at Authorsbooknook -- that's one word --, or at stores.

CNN "NEWSSTAND" is next. From New York, good night.



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