Nov 052007
Authors: Meg Kinnard

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A mother who claimed a carjacker had smothered her 7-year-old son with a pillow was arrested Monday and charged with murdering the boy.

Amanda Reagan Smith, 27, was taken into custody nearly three months after she told authorities that a knife-wielding carjacker forced her to drive to a secluded, wooded area in Greenville.

Once there, she said the carjacker locked the car doors and pressed a pillow to her son’s face. Autopsy results showed that the boy died of asphyxia due to neck compression, authorities have said.

The case revived memories of Susan Smith – the two are not related – who claimed in 1994 that a carjacker escaped with her two sons only to confess later that she drowned them in a pond about 43 miles east of Greenville.

Authorities did not reveal the evidence that led them to charge Amanda Reagan Smith, including whether she had changed her story or confessed.

Greenville County Sheriff Steve Loftis said police had “our doubts and suspicions” as Smith provided tips to them during the investigation, but declined to elaborate. Loftis said authorities believe Smith acted alone.

“We are confident that we have the suspect in jail now,” Loftis said at a news conference in Greenville.

Smith was being held in jail without bond Monday, the sheriff said.

It was not immediately clear if Smith had an attorney. A woman who answered the phone at the jail did not know if she had an attorney, and the Greenville public defender’s office said it had not been contacted to represent her.

In the hours after the killing, police dogs and helicopters searched the woods where Smith said the attacker had fled. Sketches of a suspect she described, a man who she said scratched her arm as she fought with him, were posted in businesses and neighborhoods.

In Susan Smith’s case, she pleaded on national television for the safe return of her sons. She then confessed to strapping them into their car seats and letting her vehicle roll into a lake just east of Union, where they drowned.

She was sentenced to life in prison.

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