South Carolina authorities are now investigating the death of Stephen Smith, whose body was found near the family estate belonging to the Murdaughs, as a homicide.
The news comes just weeks after disgraced lawyer Alex Murdaugh was convicted of murdering his wife, Maggie, and one of his sons, Paul.
What are the details?
Smith was found dead in July 2015 not far from the Murdaugh property. His death was ruled a hit-and-run, but his family long believed that Smith was murdered because of the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
The investigation into his death was reopened in 2021, when investigators discovered new evidence about Smith’s death as they were gathering evidence in the double murder of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.
Finally, officials revealed on Tuesday that Smith’s death is now officially being investigated as a murder.
According to a statement released by the attorneys retained by Smith’s family, state investigators with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division had been waiting until the conclusion of Alex Murdaugh’s trial to announce the investigative change. With Murdaugh’s conviction in the rearview mirror, SLED Chief Mark Keel informed the attorneys of the development on Tuesday.
The change comes after Smith’s mother began raising money earlier this month for an independent autopsy of her son. However, police told her attorneys that they “did not need to exhume Stephen Smith’s body to convince them that his death was a homicide.”
“I’ve been waiting on this news for almost eight years!” said Smith’s mother, Sandy Smith. “I’m in shock, I’m elated, I’m waiting for the next chapter!”
What did Murdaugh say?
Buster Murdaugh, whose brother and mother were murdered by his father, released a statement on Monday denying that he was involved in Smith’s death. Swirling rumors allege that Smith and Buster had been involved in a relationship.
“This has gone on far too long. These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false,” Murdaugh said. “I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family.”
Murdaugh said he waited to speak publicly because he wants to maintain his privacy as he copes with his father’s incarceration and the deaths of his brother and mother.
“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,” Murdaugh said. “I love them so much and miss them terribly.”
Authorities confirm Stephen Smith probe is a homicide l GMA
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