Hampton Co. residents want to know what happened to Stephen Smith

Published: Apr. 3, 2023 at 6:40 PM EDT
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HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Stephen Smith was found dead along a roadway back in 2015. Law enforcement originally declared him a victim of a hit-and-run.

Last month, SLED announced his death is now considered a homicide.

Stephen’s body has been returned to Gooding cemetery.

This after Smith family lawyers say his body was exhumed and underwent a second autopsy over the weekend.

These new developments are renewing conversation among many in Hampton County who say they too want to know what happened to Stephen.

Flowers are placed on top of Stephen Smith’s burial site following his exhumation and autopsy over the weekend.

Attorneys for Stephen’s mother Sandy say the reexamination comes with a push for answers in Stephen’s death.

“The investigation will unfold. We’re confident that SLED has made a commitment to use its full force and authority to try to find justice for Stephen and find out who killed him,” Eric Bland said.

Last month Sandy Smith started a GoFundMe to pay for the private investigation with the goal of finding “an accurate determination of his cause of death.”

That GoFundMe has raised more than $100,000.

“This is a trying time for the Smith family.”

SLED reopened Smith’s case in 2021 citing information obtained during their investigation into the shooting deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.

Investigators have not said what that new information is only that they’ve made progress on the case.

The flood of donations to Sandy Smith’s GoFundMe doesn’t surprise some Hampton County residents.

“They’re feeling what she’s feeling. You know, maybe a lot of them who donate have kids and think about their kids. Then there’s some, you know, whose heart goes out to the family,” Hampton County Resident Marie Perry said.

Just like the family many say they hope these latest efforts help find answers in this case.

“Hopefully, the family can get some peace with this,” Perry said.

The law firm representing the Smith family says they will use $35,000 of the money raised on GoFundMe as a reward for information that leads to the arrest of any responsible party in Stephen’s death.

They’re asking anyone with information to contact SLED.