A grieved mother has raised money to have her son’s body exhumed after he was found dead near the Murdaugh estate.
The murder trial of Alex Murdaugh has drawn attention not only to the formerly prominent lawyer who fatally shot his wife Maggie and their youngest son Paul, but also to an unsolved case that has since been uncovered.
Stephen Smith’s body was discovered on July 8, 2015 on Sandy Run Road in Hampton County, South Carolina.
The 19-year-old nursing student’s death was initially believed to be a hit-and-run, but was later ruled a homicide based on evidence found at the scene.
Stephen died from blunt force trauma to the head, but police never found his killer.
Six years later, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division opened a new investigation into Stephen’s death “based on information gathered during the course of the Paul and Maggie Murdaugh double homicide investigation”.
Stephen’s body was found not too far from Murdaugh’s million-dollar Colleton County estate, but it’s unclear what connection the Murdaugh family may have to Stephen’s death investigation.
Stephen’s mother, Sandy Smith, doesn’t give up on finding her son’s killer but wants to do it on her own terms.
On March 10, she began raising funds on GoFundMe for an exhumation and independent autopsy.
The site nearly quadrupled its $15,000 fundraising goal, with $59,353 for the family to spend on exhumation and autopsy costs.
Sandy explained the “critical” need to have the autopsy performed independently by the Medical University of South Carolina at Charleston.
“We feel it is critical to pursue a new goal – an independent exhumation and autopsy,” Sandy wrote on the GoFundMe page.
“Although the state can choose and fund an exhumation and a new autopsy, we understand this would be done at the MUSC, where his death was initially ruled a hit-and-run, despite the lack of evidence to support it.”
She added: “We need a fresh, unbiased look at his body and an accurate determination of his cause of death based on facts.
“There was no debris on the road and his injuries were not consistent with hit-and-run.”
Sandy thanked her family’s supporters on the GoFundMe page.
“Stephen N. Smith’s family is incredibly grateful for the love and support we have received from Standing for Stephen and the entire community,” she said.
“You monumentally shed light on Stephen’s story and lack of justice.”
Standing for Stephen was a movement for justice in Stephen’s death and in support of LGBTQ teenagers like Smith.
The movement raised funds and helped the Smith family erect a memorial on Stephen’s grave.
Sandy added: “Thank you for not letting Stephen’s story be swept under the rug.
“We will follow up on the exhumation immediately and provide updates along the way.”
Following Alex Murdaugh’s guilty verdict, the Smith family released a statement in which Sandy said: “We know firsthand the agony and frustration of being in the dark about how a family member was killed and I’m grateful for the full story was submitted to the jury in a public hearing.
“I pray the same thing happened for my Stephen one day, but today we should honor and remember the sacrifices of this man who was trusted by so many people,” she said, referring to the disgraced lawyer.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/7669715/alex-murdaugh-update-teen-dead-near-estate-exhumed/ New twist in the Alex Murdaugh case as mother gets teenage son Stephen Smith’s body exhumed after he was found dead near the property