Hampton Co. residents hoping Stephen Smith’s family receives closure

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 4:55 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2023 at 6:14 PM EDT
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HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - A mysterious death almost eight years ago in Hampton County has now turned into a homicide investigation.

19-year-old Stephen Smith, a high school classmate of Buster Murdaugh, was found dead back in 2015 and the South Carolina Law Enforcement division says they opened their investigation into how he died in 2021.

Now, the attorneys representing Smith’s family say the investigation is officially a homicide.

LINK >>>> Law firm says SLED now considers Stephen Smith’s death a homicide

Police found Smith’s body almost eight years ago on the side of a rural Hampton County road.

Hampton County residents have been waiting years for answers, now just praying the Smith family can find some.

“I just hope that Sandy gets some relief and some peace in knowing what did happen,” Peggy Smith said.

That’s what the family’s new attorneys say they’re looking for, specifically calling out the rumor that Smith’s Wade Hampton High School classmate Buster Murdaugh had anything to do with this homicide.

“Buster, as we know has nothing to do with this. And whatever is mentioned in the records, that’s what investigators are going to look at but we have no knowledge at all about Buster of the Murdaughs having anything to do with this right now,” said Eric Bland, the attorney for the Smith family.

Buster making a statement of his own this week saying in part, “These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false.”

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

People WTOC spoke with around town are less concerned with who was involved, and more focused on the Smith family getting the closure they deserve.

“It’s time for SLED or whoever to really do some interviewing of people and some real investigating and find out what happened one way or the other.”

Wednesday, SLED released a statement saying they’ve assigned an additional agent to the case in hopes that people who may have information are more willing to speak now than they were in the past.

There has been no date provided on when Smith’s body will be exhumed for an independent autopsy.

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

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