The teen’s death in 2015 is being investigated after potential evidence was discovered during the Murdaugh killings probe.
The corpse of Stephen Smith has been unearthed for a second examination as part of the murder probe into the South Carolina teenager’s death in 2015.
Smith’s death was originally deemed a hit-and-run after the 19-year-old was discovered laying in the center of a dark rural road on July 8, 2015, with significant gashes to his scalp.
On June 22, 2021, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) resumed an inquiry into Smith’s killing “based on information gathered during the course of the Paul and Maggie Murdaugh double murder investigation.”
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The representative, however, did not clarify what evidence prompted them to take the step.
Smith was friends with Buster Murdaugh, the son of Alex Murdaugh, who is serving two life terms for the murders of his wife Maggie, and another son, Paul. Authorities have not charged the Murdaugh family with any involvement in Smith’s murder, and Buster has categorically refuted any involvement.
Sandy Smith, the teen’s mother, has insisted that her son was not a hit-and-run victim.
Sandy Smith’s counsel, Eric Bland, stated on Sunday that Smith was resurrected this past weekend for a second examination. “I now believe Stephen can truly rest easy because SLED and our team will do everything possible to determine exactly how he died,” he said in a Twitter post.
“I cannot thank SLED enough for making Sandy’s dream of exhuming Stephen and conducting a second autopsy a reality, and for finally hearing her pleas for Stephen over the last eight years.” This past weekend, the state of South Carolina invested a substantial sum of money to ensure a seamless and organized exhumation.”
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In 2022, longtime Smith family counsel Mike Hemlepp told PEOPLE, “Sandy and I both believe that this was a murder.” “Whoever did this to Stephen deserves to go to jail.”
According to FITSnews, Smith’s case was originally probed by the South Carolina Highway Patrol before turning dead in 2016. The Murdaugh moniker — a prominent local family renowned for their longtime legal business — was referenced dozens of times as potentially being linked to his murder in that inquiry, according to FITSnews.
However, no Murdaugh family members have been questioned, and no accusations have been brought.
It was also revealed that Smith was subjected to a rape test soon after he was discovered on a Hampton County road in order to collect any pertinent physical evidence left at the site.
Cpl. Michael Duncan, a former South Carolina Highway Patrol commander, told NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield that a rape kit was performed on Smith, marking the first time in Duncan’s tenure that a rape kit was requested in conjunction with a traffic incident.
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“I didn’t understand why it was ordered,” Duncan explained to Banfield. “We didn’t find out until later that it had been ordered.” So, no, I don’t know why they would have requested a rape test for what was thought to be a hit-and-run, which it wasn’t, but I’ll never comprehend that.”
Bland told PEOPLE that a rape sample was used but that it was not analyzed. According to the council, officials will find that Smith’s murder was a hate crime.
“It could have been a bunch of thug kids who decided, ‘Hey, we’re going to beat up the gay kid,’ or it could have been someone who thought Stephen was going to out them,” he explained. “Stephen had told his mother that he was dating someone famous.”
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He kept his personal life a closely guarded secret. He was open about his sexual orientation, but he honored the limits of those with whom he had interactions.”
Sandy Smith revealed on Monday morning, through the family’s lawyers, that she is distributing a $35,000 prize from funds collected through a GoFundMe for evidence leading to an arrest in connection with Stephen’s murder.
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