Mother raises $41K to exhume, autopsy remains of son found dead near Murdaugh estate in 2015

With Alex Murdaugh's double murder conviction, Stephen Smith's family is re-energized in their pursuit of the truth and justice.

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With the conviction of Richard Alex Murdaugh for double murder, the family of a South Carolina boy discovered dead in 2015 is renewing their efforts to uncover the truth in the years-old “cold case.” According to the teen’s mother, funds have finally been gathered for an exhumation and independent autopsy.

Sandy Smith had waited eagerly for her own ending as Murdaugh’s trial captivated the world’s media and public attention from Jan. 23 to its March 2 conclusion, when Murdaugh was convicted guilty of murdering his wife and son. She has, however, been waiting for eight years.

On July 8, 2015, the corpse of her son, Stephen Smith, a 19-year-old nursing student, was discovered in the middle of a rural road in Hampton County, not far from the Murdaugh home in Colleton County.

He died as a result of blunt force injuries to the head, but the case was fraught with dispute from the outset.

Officials first deemed the killing a hit-and-run, but based on evidence at the scene, detectives eventually determined it was a murder.

For years, rumors spread around the area that the case was linked to the Murdaugh family.

The name was mentioned thousands of times in witness accounts to police, but the investigation went cold, and there have been no arrests or even official confirmation that the crime is tied to Murdaugh or not.

In July 2021, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division launched a fresh investigation into Smith’s killing, “based on evidence collected over the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.”

With the focus on Alex Murdaugh fading, the Smith family believes it is time to shed fresh light on their murder case.

WATCH: Stephen Smith’s Body was Found Near Murdaugh Hunting Lodge

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched in order to generate funds for the exhumation and independent autopsy of Stephen Smith’s remains.

In little over a week, GoFundMe has raised more than $41K.

Sandy Smith set up a GoFundMe campaign on March 10 to seek cash for the exhumation and independent autopsy.

The fundraising target was $15,000, but after just one week, the page claims to have collected $41,034.

The Smith family does not want the state to perform an autopsy at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where such examinations are generally done in the area, according to the Crowdfunding page.

“We believe it is necessary to pursue a new goal: independent exhumation and autopsy,” the website says. “Although the state may choose and finance an exhumation and fresh autopsy, we believe it will be performed at MUSC, where his death was first characterized as a hit-and-run despite the lack of evidence to support it.”

“We need a fresh, impartial look at his corpse, as well as a fact-based conclusion of his cause of death. There was no debris in the road, and his injuries did not fit the description of a hit-and-run.”

According to the website, the autopsy alone is likely to cost $7,000. Also, “a private medical examiner must be present from the beginning of the exhumation to the end of the examination period at a cost of around $750 per hour.”

This looks to be doable today, thanks to recent generous contributions.

“The family of Stephen N. Smith is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from Standing for Stephen and the community at large. You have done so much to bring Stephen’s story and the lack of justice to light “According to Smith’s website.

“Thank you for not allowing Stephen’s story to be forgotten. We will begin the exhumation process right now and offer updates along the way.”

JusticeForStephen takes the place of #StandingForStephen.

As news of the Murdaugh trials started to spread throughout the country, it inspired a campaign for justice and solidarity for Gay teenagers like Smith known as #StandingForStephen. This initiative garnered thousands of dollars, which enabled the Smith family to put a monument on their son’s grave.

StandingForStephen has been superseded by a new campaign, #JusticeForStephen.

This initiative seems to have begun at the height of the Murdaugh murder trial. Smith started writing about it on her Facebook page in February, revealing her intention to exhume her son’s remains for additional inquiry.

After the verdict of Alex Murdaugh, the Smith family issued a statement.

The Smith family issued the following statement in the days after Alex Murdaugh’s double murder conviction:

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