The corpse of a teenager discovered dead on a rural road near the murder site six years ago is slated to be excavated two weeks after South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh was convicted in the savage killings of his wife and son.
Sandy Smith stated that her son Stephen, who was 19 at the time of his death, would have a private autopsy after a GoFundMe campaign garnered $43,000 to cover the cost of exhumation.
“It’s Stephen’s year,” Smith told NBC News and praised donors for “not allowing Stephen’s story to be pushed under a rug”.
South Carolina police have long been perplexed by Stephen Smith’s death, which was first considered a hit-and-run accident after Murdaugh, 54, was accused of the deaths of their wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, last year.
The Murdaugh trial on those deaths captivated America’s – and the world’s – imagination, with its ferocity playing out against the corrupt politics of small-town rural life in a stunning slice of Deep South Gothic.
But, the two murders were not the only fatalities in the Murdaugh family circle, as legions of internet investigators drawn to the trial, as well as countless documentary filmmakers, investigated additional crimes involving the clan.
WATCH: Stephen Smith’s Body was Found Near Murdaugh Hunting Lodge
A murder inquiry was launched when an investigator’s report revealed Smith had a “defensive wound” on his hand at the time of his death. Yet a medical examiner noted in a report that Smith’s cause of death was from being hit in the head by an automobile mirror.
After Murdaugh’s arrest on murder charges, agents from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or Sled, said that their probe had prompted examinations into other suspicious deaths involving the Murdaugh family.
State investigators announced it was initiating a probe into Smith’s death “based upon evidence collected over the course of the double murder investigation”. Last week, they stated they had “made progress” in their probe into Smith’s death and that it “remains active and continuing”.
Smith’s corpse was discovered 15 miles away from the Murdaugh estate known as Moselle. The fact that he was discovered in the middle of the road, far from where his car had run out of petrol, and that he was still wearing loose-fitting shoes, a feature incongruous with being brutally hit by a vehicle, aroused eyebrows.
Meanwhile, South Carolina highway patrol agents stated they had received reports that their son Buster Murdaugh was involved.
Buster and Smith allegedly graduated from the same high school in 2014. According to sources, interviews in the highway patrol report on Smith’s death imply that the eldest Murdaugh son should be questioned.
According to ABC 4, some claimed that Smith, who was openly homosexual, and Buster were in a relationship. No one from the Murdaugh family has been directly implicated in Smith’s killing.
“We believe it is necessary to pursue a new aim – an independent exhumation and autopsy – and we are founding Justice for Stephen N Smith with that urgent purpose in mind,” Sandy Smith said on her fundraising website.
“We need a fresh, impartial look at his remains and an accurate conclusion of his cause of death based on facts. “There was no debris in the road, and his injuries did not seem to be the result of a hit-and-run,” she continued.
Additional fatalities in the Murdaugh family’s circle that are currently being investigated include family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield and Mallory Beach, 19, who died in a boating accident in 2019 tied to killed Murdaugh son Paul.
State officials have also said that Satterfield’s corpse would be exhumed as part of the inquiry.
Attorneys for convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh revealed this week that they want to appeal his convictions and life sentences in the killings of his wife and kid in June 2021. Arguments were not included in the notice of appeal.
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