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Trooper Who Investigated Death Of Buster Murdaugh’s Classmate Says It’s ‘Definitely’ Murder — But Case Was Quickly Deemed Hit-And-Run

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Courtesy MEGA/

Mar. 23 2023, Published 10:02 a.m. ET

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A former South Carolina state trooper says the death of a teenager on a road near the Alex Murdaugh home in 2015 is “definitely” murder.

Thomas Moore, who was one of the first law officers on the scene of Stephen Smith's death, claimed this week that state and county officials refused to consider his reasoning.

“If they had done their job that day, I don’t think we would be here today," Moore told WCIV-TV as reported by a Savannah, Georgia TV station.

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As has reported, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which first determined Smith died from a hit-and-run driver, changed its official stance this week and now calls the case a homicide. It will help Smith's family exhume the body for examination.

Moore said from what he saw a few miles from the Murdaugh home, there was no sign that Smith was hit by a vehicle. For one thing, he had only a minor road rash.

“I definitely think he was murdered; he was murdered there or murdered elsewhere and dropped there,” Moore said.

But the former trooper added that his superiors at the Highway Patrol did not take his theories to SLED. Moore says he then went to the Hampton County Sheriff's Office with a file explaining his view.

“They would physically not take it with their hands,” Moore said.

A lack of helpful witnesses meant no further investigation. Moore said in an HBO documentary that it smelled to him like “somebody’s trying to cover something up.”

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The Daily Beast obtained a statement from SLED Wednesday saying it never closed its investigation of Smith. The division simply was never asked to process any evidence.

But things changed in June 2021, when SLED began investigating the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh. Alex Murdaugh was convicted of killing them in early March.

Son Buster Murdaugh issued a statement Monday adamantly denying rumors that he was somehow involved in Smith's death.

Moore admits he has a bad relationship with Alex Murdaugh. He says the former attorney stole $100,000 in insurance money from him after he had a neck injury while on patrol.

Murdaugh admitted on the witness stand during his trial, “I did take his [Moore's] money.” But he denied lying to Moore.


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