Alex Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster, has spoken out about the mysterious death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith in 2015 and the “vicious rumors” that have been going around about it.
Buster, who is 26 years old, said in a statement on Monday that he had nothing to do with Smith’s death. At the same time, Smith’s family held a press conference to say that they were going to dig up his body and have an independent autopsy done.
“I’ve done my best to ignore the nasty rumors in the media that I had something to do with Stephen Smith’s tragic death while I’m still upset about the murders of my mother and brother. In a statement released by his lawyer, Jim Griffin, Buster said, “I love them so much and miss them so much.”
“I haven’t said anything until now because I want to be alone while I deal with their deaths and my dad being locked up.
“Before, during, and after my dad’s trial, the media and people interested in this story have harassed me.
“This has been going on for a long time. These false rumors that I had something to do with Stephen’s death are not true.
“I absolutely deny that I had anything to do with him dying, and my heart goes out to the Smith family.” I want the media to stop publishing these false statements and rumors about me right away.”
In the weeks since his father’s high-profile murder conviction, Buster and his girlfriend Brooklynn White have filed multiple police reports about being followed and harassed by the media.
Buster, the oldest and only son of Maggie and Alex Murdaugh who is still alive, stood by his father during his trial for killing his mother and brother Paul in a brutal way. Buster and his family went to every day of the trial to show their support.
Buster also testified in his father’s defense. He said that after his mother and brother died, Murdaugh was “devastated” and “heartbroken.”
But after Murdaugh was found guilty of killing two people, all eyes turned to Buster.
As his father was being led out of the courthouse after being sentenced to life in prison, a bystander yelled “Buster is next!” for “justice,” which seemed to be a reference to the Smith case.
Smith, a 19-year-old openly gay nursing student, was found dead in a road in Hampton County, South Carolina, early on July 8, 2015, just 15 miles from where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were killed six years later.
Smith’s head was hurt by a blow, and his car was found about three miles away from his body.
At the time of his death, it was said that he was killed in a hit-and-run. His mother, the investigators who looked into the case at the time, and people in the area have long disagreed with this conclusion.
Smith’s loosely tied shoes were still on his feet, and there were no skid marks around his body. His family thinks that these things make it unlikely that he was hit and killed by a car.
Police reports also showed that Smith had some injuries that didn’t make sense if she had been hit by a car.
Smith’s mother has thought for almost eight years that her 19-year-old son had been killed.
During the first investigation, the name Murdaugh came up 40 times in official documents, and there have been rumors for a long time that a “Murdaugh boy” may have been involved, according to Live5News.
Buster and Smith were in the same class, and there were rumors that they were dating around the time he died.
For six years, the case was over and nothing new happened with it.
Then, on June 7, 2021, Murdaugh shot and killed Maggie and Paul on the wealthy family’s 1,700-acre estate in Islandton. The Smith case was once again in the news.
Just a few days after Maggie and Paul were killed, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) said it was reopening the investigation into Smith’s death because new information had come to light during the investigation into their deaths.
It is not clear what information started the investigation into Smith’s death, and no other information has been made public.
In January 2023, all SLED said about the case was that it had “made progress.”
Smith’s mother, Sandy Smith, and her lawyers, Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, held a press conference on Monday to talk about how the family would pay for an independent investigation, which would include digging up Smith’s body and doing a private autopsy. The family had already raised more than $65,000 through a GoFundMe campaign.
Mr. Bland said that they think Smith was killed “somewhere else” before his body was “placed” in the middle of the road, where it was later found.
“We don’t think he died on that road that night,” he said, adding that they “don’t think it was a car accident.”
Mr. Bland said that Smith’s lawyers will ask a judge for permission to dig up Smith’s body by filing a petition.
He said he hopes the judge will agree that there is “good reason” to think that “a fresh set of eyes and a new autopsy could lead to a different conclusion” about what happened to the 19-year-old victim.
The investigation will also “look at [Stephen’s] life,” focusing on the 90 days before his death on July 8, 2015. This includes who he was hanging out with, who his friends were, who he was dating at the time, as well as his communications and plans before he died.
“A lot of what people say before they die can be useful, and what some people say after they die could also be useful,” he said.
If, on the other hand, the investigation comes to the same conclusion as the first one—that Smith was hit and left for dead—Mr. Bland pointed out that the person or people who did it are still free.
Even though Mr. Bland is related to the Murdaugh family, he said that this is not about Alex Murdaugh or Buster.
“This isn’t Alex Murdaugh 2.0 or any other 2.0 version of Murdaugh. “This is a version 2.0 of Stephen Smith,” he said.
“This is about Stephen,” he said, adding that all they want to do is “give a mother answers” about her son’s death.
Ms. Smith said at the press conference that she hopes to finally find out the “real reason” for her son’s sudden death after almost eight years.
She said, “I want to find out the real reason Stephen died and why.”