A GoFundMe account to help cover the costs of exhuming the body of a South Carolina teen, whose death is possibly tied to the family of convicted killer and attorney Alex Murdaugh, has raised more than $30,000 so far, doubling the fundraising goal.
Stephen Smith’s body was found in the middle of a South Carolina road in 2015. At the time, it was determined that Stephen died from a hit-and-run. To this day, no arrests have been made in the case.
In 2021, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced they were reopening the case based on information gathered during the murder investigations into the deaths of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.
Earlier this month, Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole after he was found guilty in the killings of his wife and son.
In a statement obtained by WYFF-TV, authorities with SLED said they have “made progress in the death investigation of Stephen Smith, however, this investigation remains active and ongoing.”
Stephen Smith’s mother, Sandy Smith, has set up a GoFundMe with the intention of exhuming Stephen’s body for an independent autopsy. She had initially set a goal of $15,000.
“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,” the GoFundMe page says.
In an update on the GoFundMe page, Sandy Smith thanked everyone for their support: “I could not have imagined when we began this fundraiser that it would take off the way that it did. Thank you for not allowing Stephen’s story to be swept under a rug. We will pursue the exhumation immediately and provide updates along the way.”
Stephen Smith’s body was found about 15 miles from the family home where Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were found shot to death near dog kennels in Colleton County on June 7, 2021.
Sandy Smith has said for years that she thought her son was beaten to death and not hit by a vehicle in Hampton County and she thought someone in the area covered up the crime.
“Smith’s case was initially investigated by the South Carolina Highway Patrol before going cold in 2016,” according to FITSnews. In that investigation, the Murdaugh name — a powerful local family known for their longstanding law firm — was mentioned dozens of times as possibly being connected to Smith’s death, FITSnews reported. “However, no member of the Murdaugh family was ever questioned in Smith’s death and no charges were ever filed,” People Magazine reported.
“We’ve been waiting on this forever,” Sandy Smith said at the time. “Stephen’s always been put on the back burner. It’s like nobody’s looking for answers. Stephen’s had no justice.”
In a statement on the GoFundMe page, loved ones, add, “We believe 2023 is Stephen’s year. Thank you all again for the love and support.”
Earlier this month, Cox Media Group’s Nicole Bennett spoke with Philip Holloway, legal analyst for 95.5 WSB in Atlanta, Georgia, about Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial.
>> Listen to the full episode below.
Information from The Associated Press, WYFF-TV, and People Magazine was used in this article.
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