Stephen Smith: Teenager’s body exhumed after Murdaugh trial

Stephen Smith's hit-and-run death is now being treated as a homicide (Image: GoFundme)

The body of a teen found in 2015 near the South Carolina home of convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh has been exhumed following tips since the trial.

Last month police in South Carolina said Stephen Smith’s hit-and-run death was now being treated as a homicide.

Murdaugh was found guilty in March of killing his wife and son. His surviving son, Buster, Smith’s classmate, has denied any involvement in his death.

Smith’s is the second body exhumed after the Murdaugh case publicity.

Last year, after Murdaugh’s arrest, South Carolina law enforcement announced they would exhume the body of Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, who was ruled to have died from an accidental fall at the home.

No new findings or arrests have been announced in the deaths of Smith or Satterfield.

The police inquiry into Smith’s death was reopened in 2021, based on information found during its investigation into the deaths of Alex Murdaugh’s wife and son. Authorities did not say what that information was, neither did they make any link between Smith’s death and the Murdaugh family.

Smith’s family say they believe he was murdered because he was gay, and started a fundraiser to pay for a post-mortem examination.

Eric Bland, a lawyer representing the Smith and Satterfield families, tweeted on Sunday to thank law enforcement for agreeing to allow the family to perform another autopsy on Smith.

“A tremendous amount of planning went into this past weekend by a lot of people,” he said, thanking the funeral home, coroner, excavators and investigators with the State Law Enforcement Division (Sled).

“I now believe that Stephen can really rest at ease because Sled and our team are going to do everything possible to find out just how he died,” Mr Bland wrote.

He said the move would bring comfort to the tragic teenager’s mother Sandy Smith, “who was seriously grieving for her son”.

Last month Buster Murdaugh released a statement through his lawyer denying any involvement in Smith’s death.

He said he had “been targeted and harassed by the media and followers of this story”.

“This has gone on far too long,” he said.

“These baseless rumours 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.”

Ronnie Richter, another lawyer for the Smiths, says they have no evidence Buster Murdaugh was involved in anything with Smith.

Smith’s family have suggested he could have been murdered because of his sexual orientation.

“This was not random, this was not drug or gang-related,” Mr Bland told the¬†Greenville News¬†last week.

“The only thing that sets Stephen Smith apart from other 19-year-olds is that he was openly gay in an area of the state where it’s not easy to do that in 2015,” said Mr Bland.


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