Second Autopsy Conducted on Stephen Smith

Teen was found dead near Murdaugh property in 2015
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2023 3:06 PM CDT
Updated Apr 8, 2023 12:50 PM CDT
Body of Teen Found Dead Near Murdagh Estate Exhumed
Alex Murdaugh is led to the Colleton County Courthouse by sheriff's deputies for sentencing Friday, March 3, 2023 in Walterboro, SC, after being convicted of two counts of murder in the June 7, 2021, shooting deaths of his wife and son.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Stephen Smith, the 19-year-old found dead near the Murdaugh family property in South Carolina in 2015, can "really rest at ease" now that a second autopsy has been conducted, a lawyer for his mother says. Eric Bland says Smith's body was exhumed for the autopsy and returned to his resting place over the weekend, People reports. Smith was found dead on a dark road in July 2015 and the deputy coroner ruled the death a hit and run, though his injuries did not seem consistent with an accident and mother Sandy Smith fought to have the death reclassified, reports TMZ. The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division—SLED—reopened the investigation in 2021.

Last month, SLED said it was reclassifying the death as homicide based on information uncovered during the investigation of Alex Murdaugh for the murders of his wife and son Paul, CNN reports. Buster, Murdaugh's other son, was a classmate of Smith's but he has denied any involvement in the case. A GoFundMe campaign raised almost $120,000, more than seven times the initial target, to pay for the exhumation and autopsy. Lawyers announced Monday that a $35,000 reward is being offered for information in the case.

Smith's mother has said he may have been murdered because he was openly gay. "This time is a very solemn time, as you can imagine, for Sandy," Bland said in a statement. "It’s so bittersweet. Stephen, for many many years, I can only imagine, was not so much at peace in his grave. He probably was pounding on his coffin, saying, to anybody that could hear: 'I was not hit by a car. But I was intentionally killed.' And now we’ve told him we hear his voice." (More Alex Murdaugh stories.)

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