Stranger in the Shadows

Susan Smith knew what a kidnapper should look like. He should be a remorseless stranger with a gun. But the essential part of the picture -- the touch she must have counted on to arouse the primal sympathies of her neighbors and to cut short any doubts -- was his race. The suspect had to be a black man. Better still, a black man in a knit cap, a bit of hip-hop wardrobe that can be as menacing in some minds as a buccaneer's eye patch. Wasn't that everyone's most familiar image of the murderous criminal?

As it turns out, the...

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