The body of a teenager found dead near the Murdaugh estate in 2015 will be exhumed
- For years, rumors swirled around the county that Stephen Smith’s death was linked to the Murdaugh family.
- With the spotlight on Alex Murdaugh, the Smith family feels it’s time to shed some new light on their murder case.
- On March 10, Sandy Smith set up a GoFundMe page to help fund the exhumation and autopsy of Stephen Smith. In one week, the fund raised over $41,000.
Following Richard “Alex” Murdaugh’s double murder conviction, the family of a South Carolina teenager found dead in 2015 are stepping up their efforts to uncover the truth in this years-old “cold case”. Funds have now been raised for an independent exhumation and autopsy, the teenager’s mother said.
While Murdaugh’s trial attracted worldwide media and public attention from January 23 until its conclusion on March 2 – when Murdaugh was found guilty of murdering his wife and son – Sandy Smith has eagerly awaited its own conclusion. But she has been waiting for eight years.
The body of her son, 19-year-old nursing student Stephen Smith, was found lying in the middle of a rural road in Hampton County, not far from the Murdaugh property in Colleton County, July 8, 2015 . He is dead. blunt force trauma to the head, but there was controversy surrounding the case from the start.
Officials initially ruled the death a hit and run, but investigators later ruled it a homicide based on evidence at the scene.
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For years, rumors swirled around the county that the case was linked to the Murdaugh family. This name has appeared dozens of times in witness statements to the police, but the case has cooled and to date there have been no arrests or even official confirmation that the case is, in fact, related to Murdaugh or not.
The unsolved murder mystery took on new life in July 2021, when the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division opened a new investigation into Smith’s homicide, “based on information gathered over the course of of the investigation into the double murder of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh”.
With the spotlight on Alex Murdaugh, the Smith family feels it’s time to shed some new light on their murder case. A GoFundMe reader has been launched to raise money for an independent exhumation and autopsy of Stephen Smith’s remains.
Notice:Why did Alex Murdaugh escape the death penalty? Maybe it’s because he’s white and rich.
GoFundMe raises over $41,000 in just over a week
On March 10, Sandy Smith hosted a GoFundMe page to raise money for the independent exhumation and autopsy.
The fundraising goal was $15,000 – but in just one week, this page says it raised $41,034.
According to the GoFundMe page, if Smith’s body is exhumed, the Smith family does not want the state to conduct an autopsy at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where such studies normally take place in the area.
“We believe it is essential to pursue a new goal – an independent exhumation and autopsy,” the page reads. “While the state may elect and fund an exhumation and re-autopsy, we understand it would be performed at MUSC, where his death was originally classified as a hit-and-run despite no supporting evidence.”
“We need a new, unbiased look at his body and an accurate determination of his cause of death based on facts. There was no debris in the road and his injuries were not consistent with a hit and run.”
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The site also says the autopsy alone is expected to cost $7,000. In addition, “a private medical examiner must be present from the beginning of the exhumation until the end of the examination period, at a cost of approximately $750 per hour”.
Thanks to generous recent donors, it now seems possible.
“Stephen N. Smith’s family is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received from Standing for Stephen and the community at large. You have been monumental in shedding light on the story of Stephen and the lack of justice,” says Smith’s Page.
“Thank you for not letting Stephen’s story be swept under a rug. We will continue the exhumation immediately and provide updates along the way.”
#StandingForStephen gives way to #JusticeForStephen
When media reports of the Murdaugh cases started sweeping the country, it sparked a movement for justice and support for LGBTQ teens like Smith called #StandingForStephen. This movement gathered thousands of people and helped the Smith family erect a memorial at their son’s grave.
#StandingForStephen has now been replaced by a new initiative, #JusticeForStephen.
This effort appears to have begun during the height of Murdaugh’s murder trial. In February, Smith started talking about it on his Facebook page and revealed plans to exhume his son’s body for further investigation.
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Smith family release statement after Alex Murdaugh verdict
In the days following Alex Murdaugh’s double murder conviction, the Smith family released the following statement: