Victim Reportedly Found Dead Near Infamous Murdaugh Family Residence To Be Exhumed For Independent Autopsy

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Julianna Frieman Contributor
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The body of a young man who reportedly died near the Murdaugh family residence will be exhumed for independent autopsy, the victim’s mother says.

The death of young South Carolinian Stephen Smith accumulated attention as the Alex Murdaugh trial made headlines in 2023. Smith’s family announced the autopsy seven years after the 19-year-old’s July 8, 2015, death on Sandy Run Road, miles from the Moselle property where Alex Murdaugh murdered his wife and son in 2021, according to the New York Post.

Smith’s mother, Sandy, exceeded her $15,000 GoFundMe goal Friday, raising more than $40,000 to move forward with the exhumation and independent autopsy, according to WYFF. She is reportedly skeptical of her son’s cause of death, which was initially designated as a hit-and-run. (RELATED: ‘It Might Not Have Been You’: Judge Responds To Murdaugh After he Claims He Is Innocent)

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) reopened the investigation into Smith’s death in June 2021 based on the investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh’s deaths, WYFF reported.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Sandy told WJCL 22. “When they told me hit and run I said that’s impossible because Stephen wouldn’t have been walking in the road to start with. He would’ve cut through the woods. He would not have been in the highway.”

Stephen Smith attended Wade Hampton High School with Buster Murdaugh, Alex Murdaugh’s eldest son, the NY Post reported in a separate article. Sandy has reportedly speculated about whether the family had any ties to Stephen, but any alleged connections have not been publicly disclosed by authorities, according to the outlet.

Sandy’s husband, Joel, allegedly received a call from Randy Murdaugh, Alex Murdaugh’s older brother, before Stephen’s remains were identified.

“Randy called my husband, Joel, and offered his help looking into Stephen’s death,” Sandy said, according to the NY Post. “And that was before we even knew it was Stephen. Before the sheriff’s department told us that it was Stephen.”

Sandy has not explicitly accused the Murdaughs of having any direct connection to the death of her gay son, dismissing rumors of a romantic relationship between Buster and Stephen, according to the outlet.

Onlookers heckled Buster Murdaugh his father’s sentencing March 3. Someone shouted, “Justice for Stephen Smith … Buster is next,” as the Murdaughs walked out of court.

“Sandy and I both believe that this was a murder. We’ve made no secret about what our goal is. Whoever did this to Stephen should go to prison. If anyone helped cover up what happened, they should be held accountable,” Mike Hemlepp, the Smith family attorney, told People in July 2022.