After Alex Murdaugh’s life sentence for killing his wife and younger son last month, the corpse of 19-year-old Stephen Smith, a hit-and-run victim and Buster Murdaugh’s ex-schoolmate, was unearthed. Smith was discovered dead on a dark road in Hampton County, South Carolina, in July 2015. Smith’s death had previously been deemed a hit-and-run by the constable coroner. Unfortunately, the findings of his autopsy did not match the injuries he had before his death. He has a cut on his head that seems to have been caused by the impact of an item or a gunshot. There were no injuries below his chest, suggesting he was likely not in an automobile accident.
The Location Where Smith’s Corpse was Discovered:
The case file from the Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team, or MAIT, of the South Carolina Highway Patrol states that early on July 8, 2015, a motorist in Hampton County saw Smith’s body in the middle of Sandy Run Road and called the authorities. In the original incident report, an officer noted that Smith had received blunt force damage to the head. Yet, according to schematics of the incident, the officer witnessed no indication of a car collision when his corpse was on the road, lying on the highway’s centre line.
According to the report, the responding officer saw “no car debris, skid marks, or injuries consistent with someone being struck by a vehicle,” which also said that Smith’s shoes were on and loosely laced, and investigators found no evidence that he was hit by a vehicle. According to the report, his truck was discovered around three miles away with the petrol tank door open and the petrol cap hanging out the side of the car. According to the statement, the vehicle’s battery was working but wouldn’t start.
Smith Suffered a Head Wound:
The case file demonstrates that initial responders at the site had a working assumption that Smith’s death was a murder rather than the consequence of being hit by a vehicle. According to one State Highway Patrol trooper’s notes, when he arrived on the scene, the county coroner “immediately indicated to me it was a murder,” and pointed to a gash on Smith’s skull that the coroner suspected was a gunshot wound. According to other accounts, two additional responders – an EMS worker and a sheriff’s officer – believed a gunshot caused Smith’s head wound.
Significantly, the report states that SLED agents disputed whether a gunshot caused the head injury, and no bullet casings were discovered. Smith’s family was offered many hypotheses at the time, according to his mother, who spoke to CNN. They were first informed it was a gunshot, she claimed. Then there was a pounding. Then there was a hit-and-run, she stated. One investigator questioned the judgement that Smith died due to a hit-and-run. At least two people asked the pathologist who did the autopsy, and their notes show that the county coroner disagreed with her judgement.
SLED said in June 2021 that it would launch an investigation into Smith’s death based on evidence gleaned while investigating the killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh earlier that month. The murder investigation finally led to the prosecution of patriarch Alex Murdaugh. He was convicted and given a life term in prison this month for the 2021 slayings of Maggie and Paul. Murdaugh has appealed the decisions that resulted in his convictions.
The first South Carolina Highway Patrol inquiry into Smith’s murder, which the patrol disclosed to CNN, indicates the Murdaugh name was cited hundreds of times by both witnesses and investigators, including the name of Alex Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster.