The mother of a South Carolina teenager found dead on a rural road in 2015 said she plans to have his body exhumed for an independent autopsy as his case finds renewed interest in the wake of Alex Murdaugh’s arrest and murder conviction.
On a GoFundMe page that quickly raised more than $43,000 — enough to pay for the exhumation of the teenager, Stephen Smith — his mother thanked supporters for “not allowing Stephen’s story to be swept under a rug.”
“It’s Stephen’s year,” Sandy Smith told NBC News on Friday.
The family’s attempt for answers was energized in June 2021 in the weeks after the murders of Margaret Murdaugh, 52, and her son, Paul, 22, at their estate in Colleton County. Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED, announced that their investigation into the slayings, which were unsolved at the time, had yielded reviews into other mysterious deaths in the area and that had some connection with the powerful family.
SLED said it was opening an inquiry into Smith’s death “based upon information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation.”
Investigators said in 2015 that it appeared Smith, 19, was hit by a vehicle while standing outside of his car after it had run out of gas, reported NBC affiliate WCBD in Charleston. The incident occurred in Hampton County, about 15 miles from the Murdaugh property known as Moselle.
Initially, Smith was found with a “defensive wound” on his hand, according to an investigator’s report obtained by The Island Packet, and a homicide investigation was opened. However, the case became jumbled when a medical examiner later wrote in a report that Smith’s cause of death was the result of being struck in the head by a car mirror, part of an apparent hit-and-run.
But neither glass nor debris from a car were found where Smith’s body was located or in the immediate area, The Island Packet reported.
Meanwhile, South Carolina Highway Patrol investigators said they received tips that Paul Murdaugh’s older brother, Buster, may have been connected. One investigator attempted to contact Buster, but it’s unclear the extent of any conversation that took place. State investigators have declined to discuss the case.
Buster Murdaugh and Smith reportedly graduated in 2014 from the same high school in Hampton County.
No member of the Murdaugh family has been directly named as being involved in Smith’s death. His case has garnered…