Stephen Smith was a 19-year-old nursing student at Orangeburg–Calhoun Technical College whose death has drawn significant attention due to potential connections with the Murdaugh family, a prominent legal family in South Carolina.
Background on Stephen Smith:
- Death: Stephen Smith was found dead from blunt force trauma on a rural road in Hampton County, near the Murdaugh family’s Moselle estate, on July 8, 2015. Initially, his death was ruled a hit-and-run accident.
- Personal Details: Smith was openly gay and known to be a high school classmate of Buster Murdaugh, Alex Murdaugh’s eldest son.
Investigation and Speculations:
- Initial Investigation: The case went cold with no arrests made, despite early investigations and interviews.
- Allegations and Rumors: There were rumors and allegations in the Hampton County area regarding a potential cover-up and the possible involvement of members of the Murdaugh family in Smith’s death. Witnesses during the initial investigation had mentioned Buster Murdaugh’s potential involvement in a relationship with Smith, but no conclusive evidence was provided at the time.
- Reopening of the Case: In June 2021, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) reopened the investigation into Stephen Smith’s death. This decision was based on unspecified evidence found during the investigation into the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, which occurred in June 2021.
- Change in Case Classification: On March 22, 2023, SLED announced that they now classified Smith’s death as a murder rather than a hit-and-run accident.
- No Charges or Indictments (as of December 2023): As of the latest information available to me, there have been no charges or indictments issued in relation to Stephen Smith’s death. The investigation remains ongoing.
- Denial of Involvement: Buster Murdaugh, through a statement to the press, denied any involvement with Stephen Smith and his death, calling the rumors about his involvement “baseless.”
The case of Stephen Smith remains a complex and unresolved matter, with renewed interest due to its potential connections to the Murdaugh family. The reopening of the case and its reclassification as a murder investigation suggest that new evidence or insights have emerged, though specific details and the implications for the Murdaugh family remain unclear.