Stephen Smith’s death is now being considered a homicide by South Carolina law enforcement eight years after the friend of Buster Murdaugh was found dead on a rural road near the Murdaugh family property.
Bland Richter Law Firm announced Tuesday night that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is now considering Smith’s death a homicide.
The firm, which is representing Smith’s family, said SLED Chief Mark Keel revealed in the call that they did not need to exhume Smith’s body to convince them that his death was a homicide.
But SLED officials will ‘be present and participate in any exhumation of Stephen’s body to gather more evidence.’
It comes just a day after Buster denied ‘vicious rumors’ that he was involved in Smith’s death after the teen’s family raised $60,000 to exhume his body.
Stephen Smith’s death is now being considered a homicide eight years after the friend of Buster Murdaugh was found dead on a rural road near Murdaugh family property
The announcement was made by the family’s lawyers, Bland Richter, on Twitter Tuesday night following a phone call with SLED Chief Mark Keel
Smith’s family announced that they will exhume his body following the renewed attention on the case after Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of murder. There have been rumors that Murduagh’s son Buster (pictured) was involved in a romantic relationship with Smith
The 26-year-old surviving son of double-murderer Alex Murdaugh released a statement Monday saying that speculation ‘has gone on far too long.’
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.
Smith’s 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.
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.
Maggie Murdaugh is seen with her husband Alex and sons Buster (right) and Paul (left). Paul was shot dead beside her in June 2021
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
A GoFundMe for Stephen Smith, who died in 2015, has surpassed its target. Buster Murdaugh’s name has long been linked to Smith’s
In a statement on 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.
‘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.
A Netflix documentary explored their alleged relationship, though at the time Buster refused to give a comment
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.
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.’
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