Orlando Sentinel

Baby-killer's story has less-than-precious ending

Kathleen Parker
of The Sentinel Staff
Published in The Orlando Sentinel on November 28, 1999.

Dear Glenn Close,

You don't know me, but I was reading in the newspaper about how you helped that woman, Precious Bedell, who killed her baby get out of prison. I was wondering if you could help me, too.

I killed my baby, too. Actually, both of them. But I didn't beat them to death like that Precious woman. What a funny name for a mom who would beat her own baby to death. And just for sloppy table manners? Wow, she must have a really bad temper.

I read that Precious took her crying 2-year-old into the bathroom of a Syracuse, N.Y., restaurant in 1979 and beat her because the little girl spilled food on her dress. The baby, Lashonda, had seven skull fractures, the story said, and never woke up again. That's really sad.

I also read that the bathroom was covered with blood. And that Precious had two other children but that they had been taken away for neglect. I wonder why the authorities gave back the baby? Poor, little thing. I really feel bad for her.

Anyway, because of your help, Precious got out of prison on a technicality. The story said that Precious was never told of her right to accompany jurors when they visited the bathroom where Lashonda was beaten to death. Even though Gov. George Pataki didn't want to release Precious, you were able to convince other people, especially Judge Joseph Fahey, that they should let her out of jail.

I guess when you wrote Precious' lawyer a letter, saying how much you liked Precious, who you met when filming a documentary, you must have changed everybody's mind. You said Precious was so "articulate and informed and passionate" that you thought she was one of the volunteers working at the prison. You also said, and I quote, "I would not have hesitated to leave my child in her care."

Glenn, I just want to say that you are very articulate, informed and passionate -- and really pretty, too. You understand that moms lose their tempers sometimes, but that doesn't mean they're bad people. I didn't lose my temper. I just lost my heart to another man who didn't want my children. I loved my children, Glenn. I loved them more than anything. Well, except my boyfriend.

So I was wondering, since you helped Precious, could you help me? I know she spent a long time in prison -- 19 years -- and I've only been here four years and don't come up for parole until 2024. I'm not sure if you can find any technicalities to get me out of here, but you're a movie star, and I'll bet the judges down here would do anything you asked them to.

Maybe you could come here to study for a movie like when you met Precious in that New York prison. There are a lot of good stories here -- boy, I could tell you a few. Maybe you could even play me. They already did a movie about me, but it wasn't very good. They made me look fat and stupid. I have gained a lot of weight here, because the food is very fattening.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for looking out for us moms and using your celebrity to get us out of prison. I promise if you get me out, I won't even get a speeding ticket. I admit that I did let my car roll into that lake with my children strapped inside, but I'm not a bad person. Honest.

Love, Susan Smith
Women's Correctional Institution
Columbia, South Carolina

P.S. I'd love to baby-sit your child. Maybe I could take him swimming. Do you think I could get a new car, too?

Kathleen Parker welcomes your comments. Write to her at The Orlando Sentinel, MP-6, P.O. Box 2833, Orlando, Fla. 32802-2833. Her column also appears Wednesday in the Sentinel's Living section.
E-mail: kparker@kparker.com

[Posted 11/27/1999 11:44 AM EST]

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