A mother of a South Carolina teenager who was found dead in a rural road in 2015 stated that she will exhume his body for an independent autopsy, as her case is reopened in the aftermath of Alex Murdaugh’s arrest and conviction.
His mother thanked his supporters for not allowing Stephen’s story “to be swept under the rug” on a GoFundMe page, which quickly raised over $43,000.
Sandy Smith said to NBC News that it was Stephen’s year.
In June 2021, the family’s search for answers was ignited by the murders at the estate of Margaret Murdaugh (52), and Paul (22), in Colleton County. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced that they had completed an investigation into the murders that were still unsolved.
SLED stated that they would open an inquiry into Smith’s death “based on information gathered during the double murder investigation.”
In 2015, investigators stated that Smith, aged 19, was struck by a vehicle as he stood outside his car when it ran out of gas. According to NBC affiliate WCBD in Charleston. It took place in Hampton County, approximately 15 miles from Moselle, the Murdaugh property.
According to an investigator’s report obtained by The Island Packet, Smith was initially found with a “defensive injury” on his right hand. A homicide investigation was then opened. The case was complicated when a medical examiner wrote that Smith died from being hit in the head with a car mirror as part of an apparent hit and run.
The Island Packet reported that neither glass nor debris from a vehicle were found near Smith’s body or in the immediate vicinity.
Investigators from South Carolina Highway Patrol reported that they had received information suggesting that Paul Murdaugh’s older brother Buster may be connected. Buster was contacted by one investigator, but it is not clear how much of that conversation took place. The case is being investigated by the state investigators.
According to reports, Smith and Buster Murdaugh graduated from the Hampton County high school in 2014.
Smith’s death has not been linked to any Murdaugh family member. His case has attracted attention from the public, who have been fascinated by the Murdaugh story and were featured in recent HBO Max and Netflix docuseries.
Smith’s family and friends expressed concern about Smith as an openly gay teenager living in a conservative area.
Alex Murdaugh was once a prominent lawyer. He was also the scion a wealthy legal family in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. This month, he was convicted of murdering his son and wife. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. He still faces financial charges for embezzling millions from his clients and the law firm he ran.
His attorneys plan to appeal the double murder conviction.
Murdaugh was also accused of stealing from the family of Gloria Satterfield. Gloria Satterfield died in 2018 after what was originally described as an accident at the Murdaugh estate.
The estate of Satterfield was eventually paid millions by attorneys representing her adult sons.
In 2021, the Hampton County coroner questioned the circumstances surrounding Satterfield’s death and requested that her case be reopened as no autopsy had been done.
The coroner informed state investigators that the manner of death on the death certificate was ruled natural. This is inconsistent with injuries sustained during a trip-and-fall accident.
SLED also announced that it would exhume Satterfield as part of its investigation in June 2022. Her family said they support this in order to rule out foul play.
Sandy Smith also believes that Sandy Smith’s son was more than just a hit-and run. She believes he was beat by the way his body ended up on the road.
Friday, she stated that she spoke last with SLED investigators around three weeks ago. She will now be able to get help from Eric Bland for her son’s exhumation. Bland is also representing Satterfields’ sons.
Sandy Smith said that any donations left after the autopsy and exhumation are complete would be donated to a scholarship fund that helps college students pay for books. At the time of her death, her son was in nursing school.
SLED released a statement Friday stating that it had made progress in its investigation into Smith’s death and that it remains active and continuing.
Sandy Smith stated that she would like an independent exhumation, and an autopsy. She doesn’t want it to be done by the same medical facility which initially classified her sons’ death as a hit-and run “despite not having any evidence to support it.”
She wrote that she needed to take a fresh, objective look at her husband’s body and make a fact-based determination about his cause of death.