The family of a South Carolina teenager found dead near the Murdaugh family home have called for an independent autopsy to be performed.
The death of Stephen Smith, whose body was found on a country lane in 2015, has been re-investigated about 15 miles from the Moselle hunting ground of disgraced lawyer Alex Murdaugh.
There Murdaugh was convicted of murdering his wife Margaret Murdaugh (52) and Paul Murdaugh (22).
Stephen Smith Found Dead Under Mysterious Circumstances In 2015 (Family Handout)
The brutal murder at the Colleton County estate in June 2021 has prompted investigations into other deaths in the area with ties to the Murdaugh family.
A GoFundMe page has now raised more than $56,000 to pay for the exhumation and reexamination of Smith’s body.
The 19-year-old’s mother, Sandy Smith, thanked supporters on the site for “not allowing Stephen’s story to be swept under the rug”.
“Our family is very grateful to all of you who have come together to help us in our fight for justice for Stephen. When we started this fundraiser I never imagined it would take off like this,” she wrote.
And she added: “We will follow up on the exhumation immediately and provide updates along the way. Thank you for the kind words, prayers and donations. You made this possible and it means the world to us. This is Stephen’s year.”
During its investigation into the Murdaugh murders, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced an investigation into Smith’s death “based on information gathered during the course of the double homicide investigation.”
Upon initial investigation, investigators concluded that Smith had been hit by a vehicle while standing on a country road near his car after running out of gas.
One report said Smith had a “defense wound” to his hand, but a coroner said his death was caused by being hit in the head by a car mirror during an apparent hit-and-run.
Smith’s death was featured in a series of documentaries focused on the Murdaugh murders as he was reportedly a friend of Alex Murdaugh’s eldest son, Buster Murdaugh.
The story goes on
No member of the Murdaugh family has ever been publicly linked to the death by authorities.
The Hampton County coroner also asked investigators to reopen the case of Murdaugh housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, who died in a 2018 accident on the Moselle River.
Alex Murdaugh is accused of stealing millions of dollars from Satterfield that were owed in an insurance settlement on her estate.
“The death certificate listed the manner of death as ‘natural,’ which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident,” the coroner wrote to state investigators.
Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of the murders of his wife and son earlier this month and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
He is still on trial on a slew of financial crime charges for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars from clients and the law firm his family founded