Attorneys: Stephen Smith’s death now considered a homicide
HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Attorneys representing the family of a Hampton County teen found dead in the middle of a Hampton County road in 2015 say the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has deemed the death as a homicide.
Attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter on Tuesday announced Stephen Smith’s death is now considered a homicide by SLED agents.
“We have a chance to right eight years of wrongs, and we intend to do just that,” Bland said in a press release Tuesday night.
This comes eight years after Smith’s body was found in the middle of Sandy Run Road in Hampton County on July 8, 2015.
The family launched an online fundraiser on March 9 to Smith’s body independently exhumed and examined. As of Tuesday night, that fundraiser which set a goal of $15,000, had raised more than $80,000.
The money raised will be used to exhume the body, conduct the autopsy, and to hire experts who can investigate any findings. The attorneys estimated an exhumation could cost between $10,000 and $25,000, and some expert trial witnesses can cost up to $600 or $700 per hour. But they vowed there would be “full transparency” on how the money will be spent.
Richter said that it would be “a significant setback” if the courts denied a motion to exhume the body.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division re-opened the case in June 2021, shortly after the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh based on information discovered during that initial investigation.
In the year and a half since, no new details have come to light but SLED reports it has “made progress” and the case remains “active and ongoing.”
No suspects have ever been officially named in the teen’s death but the Murdaugh family name comes up several times in investigative files.
Buster Murdaugh, the surviving son of Alex Murdaugh released the following statement Monday morning in response to ongoing rumors that he was involved in Smith’s death.
Documents show investigators fielding tips about the Murdaugh family in the days and months following Smith’s death.
You can read the full statement from the Bland Richter law firm here.
SLED has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.