Stephen Smith's death being investigated as homicide after Buster Murdaugh accused of killing teen
HAMPTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: South Carolina Law Enforcement Division stated that the investigation into Buster Murdaugh's classmate Stephen Smith's death was not opened until 2021, after Margaret and Paul Murdaugh had tragically died. Smith's death, which had previously been classified as a "hit and run," is now being looked into as a homicide.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, March 22, law enforcement officials stated, "SLED was not requested by the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office or the South Carolina Highway Patrol to investigate Mr Smith's death in 2015," according to DailyMail. A special documentary from Netflix and HBO revealed that Smith's body was discovered next to a vehicle on a country road not far from the Murdaugh residence, and police were later informed about an alleged gay relationship between him and Buster.
'Baseless rumors': Buster Murdaugh denies involvement in classmate Stephen Smith's death
Buster Murdaugh, 26, and his father Alex 'got very drunk' 2 months after Maggie and Paul were murdered
Probe into Stephen Smith's death was 'never closed'
The stement by SLED officials said, "SLED Crime Scene Agents were dispatched from SLED’s Headquarters and responded to the scene. Upon arrival, SLED Crime Scene Agents processed the crime scene." The statement continued by saying that they were only cleared after medical examiner Erin Presnell determined that Smith died as a result of being hit by a car.
The statement read, "Due to the medical examiner's determination, the Hampton County Sheriff's Office requested the South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP) to investigate Mr. Smith's death. SLED was not requested by the Hampton County Sheriff's Office or the South Carolina Highway Patrol to investigate Mr Smith's death in 2015."
However in June 2021, when the SLED opened an investigation into his death in response to new information, things changed. Officials said that after further inspection, it seemed like Smith did not die in a hit-and-run.
The statement read, "From SCHP case notes it was apparent that the SCHP did not believe Mr. Smith's death was a hit and run by a motor vehicle. SLED's investigation into the death of Mr Smith was never closed - it remains a homicide investigation." Smith's family members continue to demand that the truth be revealed as the investigation is still ongoing.
Is Stephen Smith's death connected to Murdaughs?
Smith's mother, Sandy Smith, sent a letter to the FBI in 2016 naming Buster Murdaugh as a potential suspect in her son's mysterious death. She also made mention of the duo's suspected covert relationship. She wrote, "The first call my family received after the murder was from authorities notifying us of Stephen's death."
Sandy added, "The second came very quickly the same morning from solicitor Randolph Murdaugh. In fact, he called my ex-husband's cell phone as we waited in the police station for a positive identification. He said he heard of the case and was interested in working pro bono as a liaison between the family and investigators."
The Smith family accepted the offer, although they were puzzled as to how Randolph had learned of his death so quickly. It also states that Randolph abandoned the family in the weeks that followed. Sandy's letter goes on to say that many teenagers went to Smith's twin sister, Stephanie, in the days following his death and accused Buster and Paul of being the killers.
Christopher, Smith's older brother, was informed by a different teen that he witnessed Buster murder Smith "with a baseball bat." "He claimed it was because Stephen was gay. The witness said they were out smashing mailboxes when they came upon Stephen and Buster seized the opportunity," Sandy wrote.