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Hit-and-run death reviewed as part of Murdaugh inquest is being investigated as a homicide

The death of a South Carolina man who was found on a rural road about 15 miles from the home of now-convicted killer Alex Murdaugh has been investigated as a homicide, an agency said Tuesday. of state law enforcement.

Lawyers for the family of 19-year-old Stephen Smith said the homicide investigation was a major development. The South Carolina Division of Law Enforcement (SLED) said it has been investigating since 2021.

“SLED is investigating the 2015 death of Stephen Smith as a homicide and has been investigating since 2021,” agency spokeswoman Renée Wunderlich said Tuesday.

The confirmation, which family lawyers say came in a phone call with SLED chief Mark Keel, came nearly three weeks after Murdaugh was found guilty of murdering his wife and of her adult son in a high-profile case.

No one has been arrested or charged in Smith’s death. Her body was found around 4 a.m. on July 8, 2015, on a rural road in Hampton County, about 15 miles from the Murdaugh home.

An autopsy report at the time listed the cause of death as having been struck by a vehicle, as Smith was a pedestrian, apparently walking after running out of gas.

Smith’s family members do not believe it was a hit and run.

Smith’s death received renewed attention in 2021 when SLED said it was opening an investigation into his death “based on information gathered during the investigation into the double murder of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh”.

The agency did not specify what this information was.

Alex Murdaugh, an attorney for a prominent South Carolina family, was convicted on March 2 of murder and other counts in the murder of his wife, Maggie, and their youngest son, Paul, 22 years old.

Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He was also charged with financial crimes.

Wunderlich, the spokesperson for SLED, said Tuesday that the investigation into Smith’s death is ongoing.


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