The mother of a South Carolina boy found dead on a rural road in 2015 has said she hopes to have his corpse exhumed for an independent autopsy as Alex Murdaugh’s arrest and murder conviction rekindles interest in his case.
On a GoFundMe campaign that swiftly gathered over $43,000 — enough to pay for Stephen Smith’s exhumation — his mother praised supporters for “not allowing Stephen’s tale to be pushed under the rug.”
“This is Stephen’s year,” Sandy Smith said on Friday to NBC News.
The family’s search for answers was rekindled in the weeks after the killings of Margaret Murdaugh, 52, and her son, Paul, 22, at their farm in Colleton County in June 2021.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agents claimed that their investigation into the unsolved slayings had resulted in studies into other inexplicable deaths in the region that had some relation with the prominent family.
SLED announced the launch of an investigation into Smith’s death “based on information acquired over the course of the double murder investigation.”
According to NBC station WCBD in Charleston, it appears Smith, 19, was struck by a vehicle while standing outside of his car after it ran out of petrol in 2015. The event happened in Hampton County, roughly 15 miles from the Moselle Murdaugh farm.
According to an investigator’s report acquired by The Island Packet, Smith was first discovered with a “defensive wound” on his hand, and a murder inquiry was launched.
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Nevertheless, the case got complicated when a medical examiner subsequently said in a report that Smith died as a consequence of being hit in the head by a vehicle mirror during an apparent hit-and-run.
But, no glass nor automobile debris was discovered near or near Smith’s corpse, according to The Island Packet.
Meanwhile, South Carolina Highway Patrol detectives stated they acquired information suggesting that Paul Murdaugh’s elder brother, Buster, was involved.
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One investigator tried to contact Buster, but the length of any interaction is unknown. State investigators have refused to comment on the matter.
Buster Murdaugh and Smith apparently graduated from the same Hampton County high school in 2014.
No one from the Murdaugh family has been directly implicated in Smith’s killing.
His case has received attention as a result of the public’s obsession with the Murdaugh controversy, and it has been included in recent HBO Max and Netflix docuseries.
Smith’s family and friends expressed their worries for him as an out homosexual adolescent in a mostly conservative community.
Alex Murdaugh, a once-prominent lawyer and the scion of a well-connected legal family in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, was convicted of killing his wife and son earlier this month.
He was sentenced to life in jail without the possibility of release, and he is still facing a series of financial accusations for stealing millions of dollars from customers and his family’s legal practice.
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His lawyers want to challenge his double murder conviction.
Murdaugh was accused of stealing from the family of his maid, Gloria Satterfield, who died in what was first characterized as an accidental fall at the Murdaugh estate in 2018.
Satterfield’s adult sons’ attorneys finally obtained millions of dollars owing to her estate.
The facts of Satterfield’s death were called into doubt by the Hampton County coroner in 2021, who asked that her case be reviewed due to the lack of an autopsy.
“The method of death was labeled ‘natural’ on the death certificate, which is incongruous with injuries experienced in a trip and fall event,” the coroner wrote to state investigators.
SLED also announced in June 2022 that it will exhume Satterfield’s corpse as part of the inquiry, which her family says is necessary to firmly rule out foul play.
Sandy Smith has also maintained that her son’s death was more than a hit-and-run, and she thinks he was battered by the manner his corpse was discovered on the road.
She said on Friday that she last communicated with SLED detectives approximately three weeks ago and that she would seek assistance with her son’s exhumation from attorney Eric Bland, who also represents Satterfield’s boys.
Sandy Smith said that any money left over after the exhumation and autopsy will go into a scholarship fund to assist college students to pay for books. At the time of his death, her son was pursuing a nursing profession.
SLED stated in a statement Friday that its investigation into Smith’s death has “made progress” and that it “remains active and continuing.”
Sandy Smith has said that she wishes for an independent exhumation and autopsy because she does not want it to be performed by the same medical establishment that first categorized her son’s death as a hit-and-run “despite no evidence to back it.”
“We need a fresh, impartial examination of his remains and an accurate, fact-based judgment of his cause of death,” she said on her Fundraising page.
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