Buster Murdaugh releases statement on death of Stephen Smith, Smith family plans to exhume body

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 6:01 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 20, 2023 at 4:28 PM EDT
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HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - The family of Stephen Smith and their attorneys held a news conference Monday morning.

Stephen’s mom, Sandy Smith, was joined by attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter of Bland Richter law firm, who are now representing her.

Smith was 19-years-old when he died in July of 2015 in a presumed hit-and-run along Sandy Run Road in Hampton County. The case went cold.

According to the report from SC Highway Patrol, the Murdaugh name was mentioned multiple times while they were investigating the death. The investigation into his death was reopened on June 22, 2021 due to evidence found during the Murdaugh murder investigation, according to SLED.

Bland and Richter say they are planning to petition the court to have his body exhumed and to bring in experts to help with the investigation.

The attorneys and Smith’s family believe Smith may have been killed in a separate location and then his body was moved to the spot on Sandy Run Road.

Richter explained some of their reasoning, and why he believes they have a chance to prove to the court this exhumation is necessary.

“We could still hire investigators to kind of go back and recreate the steps and look back at those communications like Eric said, see if we can find some fresh new leads. But it kind of has to start with a fresh new look at the body and an independent determination about that cause of death. And as Eric said, it might be that that investigation is confirmatory of what has already been said about the cause of death. We don’t think that’s true,” Richter said.

The attorneys also plan to file a civil suit at some point so they have the authority to subpoena phone records and other evidence from people Smith was in contact with leading up to his death.

Before the news conference, Buster Murdaugh released the following statement, “I have tried my best to ignore the vicious rumors about my involvement in Stephen Smith’s tragic death that continue to be published in the media as I grieve over the brutal murders of my mother and brother. I love them so much and miss them terribly.

I haven’t spoken up until now because I want to live in private while I cope with their deaths and my father’s incarceration.

Before, during and since my father’s trial, I have been targeted and harassed by the media and followers of this story.

This has gone on far too long.

These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false.

I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family.

I am requesting that the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me.”

SLED released the following statement to WTOC on Monday after the news conference, “SLED has made progress in the death investigation of Stephen Smith, however this investigation remains active and ongoing.”

You can watch the news conference below:

You can view a timeline of the Stephen Smith case below:

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