South Carolina Law Enforcement Rule Teenager’s Death A Homicide Days After Buster Murdaugh Denies Involvement
Buster Murdaugh, the son of Alex Murdaugh, listens to prosecutor John Meadors give his closing arguments in Alex Murdaugh's trial for murder, at the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday, March 2, 2023, in Walterboro, South Carolina.
Joshua Boucher/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The death of a South Carolina teenager who was on a rural road in 2015 has been ruled a homicide, just two days after Buster Murdaugh denied involvement in the teen’s death.

Stephen Smith was the alleged victim of a hit-and-run in 2015, years before the Murdaugh family housekeeper died after falling down some stairs and before Paul Murdaugh drunkenly drove a boat that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach. On Tuesday, lawyers for Smith’s family announced that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) now considers Smith’s death a homicide.

“We have a chance to right eight years of wrongs, and we intend to do just that,” Eric Bland, an attorney representing Smith’s family, said in a statement sent to the press.

Earlier this week, Sandy Smith, Stephen’s mother, raised enough money to have her son’s body exhumed.

“SLED officials have revealed that they did not need to exhume Stephen Smith’s body to convince them that his death was a homicide,” Brand and law partner Ronnie Richter said in a joint statement. “However, they will be present and participate in any exhumation of Stephen’s body to gather more evidence. We are committed to finding out what really happened, and getting the peace and justice the Smith family deserves.”

The announcement stems from a phone call between Bland and SLED Chief Mark Keel, during which SLED apparently revealed that they wanted to wait until Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial was over before making any announcements about Stephen Smith. Murdaugh was convicted earlier this month of murdering his wife Maggie, and son, Paul.

For years, people have claimed that Paul and his older brother Buster had something to do with Stephen’s death, even though no known evidence links them to the case. Earlier this week, Buster Murdaugh released a statement through his attorney Jim Griffin denying any involvement in Smith’s death:

I have tried my best to ignore the vicious rumors about my involvement in Stephen Smith’s tragic death that continue to be published in the media as I grieve over the brutal murders of my mother and brother. I love them so much and miss them terribly.

I haven’t spoken up until now because I want to live in private while I cope with their deaths and my father’s incarceration.

Before, during and since my father’s trial, I have been targeted and harassed by the media and followers of this story. This has gone on far too long. These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false. I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family.

I am requesting that the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me.

Investigators initially said in 2015 that Smith apparently was hit by a vehicle and killed while standing near his own car on the side of the road after apparently running out of gas. An investigator’s report obtained by The Island Packet initially said Smith had a “defensive wound” on his hand, but the medical examiner wrote that Smith had been struck in the head by a car mirror during a hit-and-run.


No glass or other car debris was found in the area where Smith was found dead, however, the Packet reported.

The inconsistencies led many to speculate that Smith, who was openly gay, may have been murdered.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  South Carolina Law Enforcement Rule Teenager’s Death A Homicide Days After Buster Murdaugh Denies Involvement