At first glance it looks like a loving tribute from a mum after her daughter died in tragic circumstances – but the truth is far more heartbreaking.
At first glance it looks like a loving tribute from a mum after her daughter died in tragic circumstances – but the truth is far more heartbreaking.

The chilling truth behind this mum’s social media post

A mum who posted multiple tributes after her "sweet angel" daughter died an unexplained death in bed will now go to prison for murdering the little girl.

Stephanie Diane Smith pleaded guilty to felony murder of her daughter Zadie Wren Cooper and was this week sentenced to life in prison.

The 29-year-old from the US state of Alabama admitted to police that she had smothered the four-year-old on July 7, 2016.

Smith initially told authorities that she had discovered her daughter unresponsive in bed and a medical examiner was unable to confirm Zadie's cause of death, People reports.

Smith claimed she had heard a noise on the baby monitor and gone to Zadie's room, only to discover her stuck between the bed and the wall, not breathing.

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Stephanie Diane Smith was this week sentenced to life in jail. Picture: Limestone County Jail.
Stephanie Diane Smith was this week sentenced to life in jail. Picture: Limestone County Jail.

A second private autopsy, requested by Smith's family, also failed to find what had killed the girl.

During this time, Smith posted frequently about her dead daughter on Instagram, as well as her struggles with mental illness.

In one post six months after Zadie's death, Smith wrote that "life was unfair" as "it took you too soon".

"My heart is breaking all over again. It happens every day I wake up and remember she's gone," she wrote in the caption.

"I am so lost without you. rest in peace, sweet angel. mommy loves you forever."

Another post by Smith on April 7, 2017, the mum wrote that she was "completely lost" without Zadie and she had a "broken and empty heart".

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In the months after her daughter died Smith shared several posts mourning her daughter's death. Picture: Instagram.
In the months after her daughter died Smith shared several posts mourning her daughter's death. Picture: Instagram.

On April 13, less than a week later, Smith walked into a police station and confessed to killing Zadie.

Athens Police chief Floyd Johnson told reporters shortly after Smith's confession that she had been struggling with mental health issues and had been off her medication at the time her daughter had been killed.

An emotional Mr Johnson said Zadie's death and Smith's mental health issues made the case tragic for all involved.

"(She) told us that she has mental issues and, at the time she had some issues and she was not on her medication," he said, according to Fox 30.

"She went into Zadie's room, put a pillow over her head; her face - she was sleeping on her back - and smothered the child.

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Smith posted this photo just days before confessing to her murder. Picture: Instagram.
Smith posted this photo just days before confessing to her murder. Picture: Instagram.

"A short time later, she realised what was going on; she removed the pillow. Zadie was not breathing, and she called 911."

Smith hadn't confessed at the time of her daughter's death because she was afraid of the consequences but her conscience over what happened had later gotten the better of her, Mr Johnson said.

"Yesterday, it was very clear (that) she was in a very good frame of mind," he said.

"She knew exactly what she was doing. She was talking with us. She wanted to get this out, that she had caused this."

Smith's trial had been repeatedly delayed due to coronavirus before she decided to plead guilty to a lesser charge of felony murder.

She was sentenced on Monday to a life sentence with the possibility of parole.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. 

 

Originally published as Chilling truth behind mum's picture


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