What’s happened so far in the Stephen Smith investigation

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 2:55 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2023 at 5:16 PM EDT
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HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Stephen Smith died on July 8, 2015.

Questions surrounding the 19-year-old’s death have lingered ever since. After looking through more than 100 pages of case notes - here’s what we know.

Smith’s body was found in the middle of a Hampton County road and showed he had blunt force trauma to the head. Investigators could not agree on what happened to Smith or how his body ended up in the roadway.

Deputies and the county coroner told troopers with the South Carolina Highway Patrol that it looked like a homicide and not a traffic accident.

They said they needed SLED, not the troopers, to work the case.

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

A pathologist then looked at Smith’s body and ruled his death a hit-and-run, sending the case back to highway patrol and out of SLED’s hands.

Troopers documented a heated conversation with the pathologist, asking how she could call it a hit-and-run when there was no evidence, like skid marks or car parts, found at the scene. They say she told them it was not “her job to figure out” what happened.

Smith’s mother and sister told troopers he had been secretive leading-up to his death. Smith’s boyfriend - listed multiple times in the case - was not named a suspect.

Multiple Murdaugh family members were also named.

Someone sent an anonymous tip naming a member of the Murdaugh family as being involved in Smith’s death. One person contacted investigators and named a different suspect, saying he was told to call in this tip by a member of the Murdaugh family.

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

Eventually, investigators said they were not able to make any progress on the case, leaving it without a conclusion.

Smith’s case was reopened in 2021 after SLED said its agents found information related to Smith’s death, while investigating the murders of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.

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