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Exhumed: Stephen Smith's Body Dug Up 8 Years After Teen Found Dead on Road Near Murdaugh Family Home

stephen smith case
Source: GoFundMe

Apr. 3 2023, Published 12:24 p.m. ET

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The body of Stephen Smith, who was killed near the South Carolina estate where Alex Murdaugh murdered his wife and eldest son, was exhumed after his family raised money for an independent investigation to be conducted.

“Thank you for not allowing Stephen's story to be swept under a rug,” Sandy Smith, wrote on GoFundMe about her son.

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The remains of 19-year-old Stephen Smith were removed from Gooding Cemetery in Hampton County on March 31.

Sandy Smith noted donors’ “kind words, prayers and donations” made the exhumation possible. “This is Stephen's year,” she added.

Stephen Smith, who was openly gay, was found dead on the side of a road in July 2015. At the time, his death was ruled the result of a hit and run after investigators concluded he had been walking after his vehicle ran out of gas.

Newly released photos show the teenager’s body was found in a pool of blood just miles from the Murdaugh estate, and the graphic images suggest he may have suffered a head wound.

Following the recent conclusion of Murdaugh’s trial and his convictions for the murder of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul Murdaugh, investigators are now reexamining Stephen Smith’s case as a possible homicide.

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The teen was a classmate of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh’s son, Buster Murdaugh. A 2016 letter from Sandy Smith to the FBI quoted an unnamed “young man” as alleging Buster Murdaugh beat her son with a baseball bat.

“They were out smashing mailboxes when they came upon Stephen, and Buster seized the opportunity,” the witness reportedly alleged. “He claimed it was because Stephen was gay.”

Buster Murdaugh, 26, adamantly denies he had anything to do with the teenager’s death, calling the rumors “baseless... false... vicious.”


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