On Friday, it was revealed that the family of a young man from South Carolina, who died under mysterious circumstances just a few miles away from the notorious Murdaugh family’s residence, is planning to exhume his body.
Stephen Smith passed away on July 8, 2015, and after his death received renewed attention during Alex Murdaugh’s trial, his family announced on Thursday that they would seek an independent autopsy.
According to WYFF, Smith’s family decided to exhume his body due to the renewed interest in the case. Smith was only 19 years old when he was discovered dead on Sandy Run Road, near the Moselle estate where Alex Murdaugh killed his wife and son six years later, in Hampton County.
Smith’s death was initially attributed to a hit-and-run incident, but in June 2021, authorities reopened their investigation into the case. The decision was made based on information uncovered during the investigation into the shooting deaths of Alex Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and son Paul, which occurred earlier in the same month.
Despite speculation from some witnesses regarding possible foul play involving Smith’s classmate, Buster Murdaugh, the eldest son of the Murdaugh family, authorities have never publicly disclosed whether there is a connection between Smith’s death and the Murdaugh family.
On a GoFundMe page set up to raise $15,000 to fund an independent autopsy, Sandy Smith, the mother of Stephen Smith, announced on Thursday that they would proceed with the exhumation. As of Friday morning, the fundraiser had exceeded its goal and raised over $40,000. In an update on the page, Sandy expressed her gratitude to those who donated and supported their fight for justice for Stephen. She said, “Thank you for not allowing Stephen’s story to be swept under a rug.”
After Alex Murdaugh received two consecutive life sentences for the murders of Maggie and Paul, Sandy expressed her relief that the legal scion was finally behind bars. “That jury done excellent. They seen through the lies and a Murdaugh is finally brought down,” she told The Post.
“They can now focus on Stephen’s case full-time since this case is over,” said an unnamed source. The announcement of Smith’s exhumation came as two of Maggie Murdaugh’s college friends spoke publicly for the first time, describing Maggie as a devoted wife and mother to her two sons.
Caroline Price, who served as Maggie’s “big sister” in the Kappa Delta sorority at the University of South Carolina, expressed on Thursday to CBS News’ Nikki Battiste that she feels Maggie’s identity was overshadowed by her husband’s trial. When asked if she thinks Maggie was lost in the fanfare around her husband’s trial, Price responded with an affirmative “absolutely.”
“[Maggie] was a person, she was a mother, she was a sister, she was a friend, she was a daughter,” her friend Shellie West added. West wanted the public to know that Maggie “was fun…she had a personality.” West also mentioned that Maggie, who was nicknamed “Magnolia” by her friends, was not as flamboyant as her “larger than life” husband.
The fond recollections of Maggie from her mourning friends offer a much-needed deviation from the never-ending cascade of embarrassments exposed during her husband’s trial. Amidst these proceedings, Maggie’s sister Marion Proctor accused Alex Murdaugh of infidelity over a decade ago, but this information was not presented to the jury.
Throughout Alex Murdaugh’s trial, there were several embarrassing moments, but the memories shared by Maggie’s loving friends offer a much-needed contrast. However, during the proceedings, there were some disturbing events, such as Judge Clifton Newman admonishing the court after a shocking autopsy photo of Maggie, showing a shotgun entry wound near her left ear, was leaked during a live stream.
Alex Murdaugh, who is now serving his sentence at Kirkland Correctional Facility in Columbia, has filed an appeal for his double-murder conviction. Sources have indicated that he is being held in maximum security due to concerns about other inmates targeting him. On the other hand, Buster, who is 26 years old, is apparently staying at his lawyer girlfriend’s Hilton Head condo.8
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