Buster Murdaugh has denied ‘vicious rumors’ that he was involved in Stephen Smith’s death after the teen’s family raised $60,000 to exhume his body.
The 26-year-old surviving son of double-murderer Alex Murdaugh released a statement Monday saying that speculation ‘has gone on far too long.’
Buster, who supported his doomed father every day during his trial last month, said he wanted privacy to ‘grieve over the brutal murders of my mother and brother.’
He wrote: ‘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.’
It comes after Smith’s family announced last week that the body of the 19-year-old nursing student would be exhumed for a private autopsy.
Buster, who supported his doomed father every day during his trial last month, said he wanted privacy to ‘grieve over the brutal murders of my mother and brother’
Stephen Smith’s family raised $60,000 to exhume his body, and announced that they would be looking into the death of the teenager again
Smith was found dead on July 8, 2015, on a rural road near the Murdaugh property with a blunt-force trauma injury to the head.
His family announced that they will exhume his body following the renewed attention on the case after Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of murder.
The teen’s death was initially ruled a hit and run, but highway patrol officers have since claimed that they did not believe the scene was consistent with a road traffic accident.
Patrol officers told state law enforcement that they believed the teen was murdered, but there was no further investigation.
Since then, two documentaries by HBO and Netflix have aired rumors that Buster was involved in a romantic relationship with Smith.
Lawyers for the Smith family said at a press conference today that they ‘do not accept’ the cause of his death was vehicular manslaughter.
Ronnie Richter, partner at Bland Richter LLP, said: ‘It’s going to be hard to open an investigation up after eight years, but it has to start with an exhumation of his body and an independent determination of the true cause of death, which we don’t accept to be vehicular manslaughter.
‘Stephen has a right not to have his grave disturbed, as do other people who are buried.
Alex Murdaugh (left) has been jailed for the murders of his wife Maggie (second left) and youngest son Paul (second right)
In the statement Monday, shared by Alex Murdaugh’s trial lawyer Jim Griffin, Buster called the claims as ‘baseless’
‘So, we’re going to have to petition the court, show facts that would indicate that a fresh set of eyes — a new autopsy — may yield a different conclusion that Stephen was not killed on Sandy Run Road in Bamberg County. That maybe he was killed somewhere else.’
His mother Sandy said she wants to find the ‘real reason’ for her son’s death, and has stood by her opinion that he would have ‘walked through the woods’ if his car broke down – not the road.
In the statement Monday, shared by Alex Murdaugh’s trial lawyer Jim Griffin, Buster wrote: ‘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.
Smith was found dead on July 8, 2015, on a rural road near the Murdaugh property with a blunt-force trauma injury to the head
A GoFundMe for Stephen Smith, who died in 2015, has surpassed its target. Buster Murdaugh’s name has long been linked to Smith’s
‘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.’
Authorities reopened the investigation into Smith’s death in June 2021 following information uncovered during the investigation into Maggie and Paul’s deaths.
However, they have never publicly admitted if there was a link between Smith’s death and the Murdaugh family – despite witnesses claiming there was a possibility for foul play involving Buster.
A Netflix documentary explored their alleged relationship, though at the time Buster refused to give a comment.
More than half of the people interviewed during the investigation mentioned hearing about rumors of Buster Murdaugh’s possible involvement in Smith’s death – but was never brought in for questioning.
Maggie Murdaugh is seen with her husband Alex and sons Buster (right) and Paul (left). Paul was shot dead beside her in June 2021
A Netflix documentary explored their alleged relationship, though at the time Buster refused to give a comment
Eric Bland, a lawyer who is now representing Stephen Smith’s mother Sandy, said: ‘As we sit here today, Buster is a victim. He lost a mother, brother, now his father’s in jail.
‘We have no knowledge at all of Buster or the Murdaughs having anything to do with this right now.’
Buster is currently thought to be holed up at his lawyer girlfriend’s property in Hilton Head, and was spotted walking dogs at the property several times during the trial.
Smith’s mother, Sandy, shared the news that they would be exhuming her son’s body and pushing forward with an independent autopsy on Thursday on a GoFundMe page.
She wrote: ‘Our family is so very grateful to all of you who came together to help us in our fight for justice for Stephen.
‘I could not have imagined when we began this fundraiser that it would take off the way that it did. Thank you for not allowing Stephen’s story to be swept under a rug.’
It comes as friends of Maggie Murdaugh broke their silence for the first time after her husband was convicted of her murder.
The 52-year-old was described as a ‘fun and witty’ woman who was devoted to her sons and husband.
Caroline Price said she worried Maggie’s story had been drowned out in the noise around the case
Shellie West lived with Maggie Murdaugh after graduation from the University of South Carolina
Maggie’s friends said they felt she had got lost in the scandalous saga, telling CBS news that she wanted people to know ‘she was fun’.
Shellie West said: ‘ ‘She had a personality, that she was witty. She loved things. She loved her family.’
‘She wasn’t the type of person that would stand out in a crowd, but she was always there, you know, to back everybody up.’
Caroline Price said she ‘absolutely’ felt Maggie’s personality was drowned out in the coverage.
The three had been friends since they were at the University of South Carolina together.
Price was Murdaugh’s ‘big sister’ in the Kappa Delta sorority; Murdaugh and West lived together after graduation.
Both women were in the Murdaughs’ wedding. Price said Alex was ‘larger than life’ while Maggie Murdaugh ‘wasn’t flashy at all.’
Price continued: ‘She loved her family. I mean, her boys. She was also very close to her parents and her sister.
‘She was a dutiful wife, you know, supporting Alex.’
West added: ‘She was a person, she was a mother, she was a sister, she was a friend, she was a daughter.
‘You know, she’s not ‘the wife that was murdered.’ I mean, we don’t want her to be remembered that way.’
Alex Murdaugh was sentenced on March 3 to two consecutive life sentences. On March 9, his lawyers filed a notice to appeal the conviction.
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