According to reports, South Carolina authorities have exhumed the body of gay teenager Stephen Smith and reopened the investigation into his 2015 murder.
Friday, Smith’s body was exhumed for an independent autopsy, according to sources close to the investigation who spoke to WCIV.
In July 2015, the 19-year-old was discovered dead on the side of a road in Hampton County. His death was initially attributed to a possible hit-and-run. Last month, after nearly eight years, Smith’s death was ruled a homicide.
Interest in Smith’s death has been renewed since the double-murder conviction of Alex Murdaugh earlier this month.
Buster, the surviving son of Murdaugh, is associated with Smith, and the two attended high school together.
Sandy, the mother of Smith, successfully raised funds to conduct an independent exhumation and autopsy on her son last month.
In a letter to federal investigators, she linked Buster to her son’s death and accused local law enforcement of botching the investigation into her son’s death.
However, Fitsnews revealed Thursday that South Carolina authorities have reportedly zeroed in on two 25-year-olds, Patrick Wilson and Shawn Connelly, who were initially implicated in Smith’s death case.
Six years later, Alex Murdaugh murdered his wife Maggie and son Paul on their 1,700-acre estate in Moselle. At the time, the pair were teenagers and lived within a few miles of where the Smiths’ mutilated bodies were discovered.
Five months after Smith’s murder, Wilson’s stepfather, at the urging of Alex Murdaugh’s older brother, Randy Murdaugh, informed investigators of the boys’ involvement in the crime.
Wilson allegedly told his stepfather that Connelly, who has a lengthy history of traffic violations and DUIs, was behind the wheel of the vehicle that “struck and killed Stephen Smith.”
Randy Murdaugh insisted that his father relay the information to the authorities, and his father complied.
Wilson was facing attempted murder charges for an incident that was unclear at the time of his confession.
These charges were dropped shortly thereafter by a lawyer who “served at the Murdaughs’ pleasure,” according to a historian from Hampton.
Within a year of Smith’s death, Randy Murdaugh filed two motor vehicle accident lawsuits on behalf of clients against Connelly, both of which were dismissed by Murdaugh-friendly judges.
Despite the confession, neither man was thoroughly investigated by the original team of investigators. The police initially determined that Smith’s death “appeared to be a homicide,” but ultimately determined that he was the victim of a hit-and-run.
Police have not publicly excluded the Murdaughs from their investigation; however, a law enforcement source told FitsNews that there is evidence proving the Murdaughs’ innocence.
Police said last week they “quickly” put Buster Murdaugh on their radar as part of the reopened investigation following rumors that he killed Smith in order to hide a secret love affair between the two baseball teammates.
Buster has “unequivocally” denied “vicious rumors” that he was involved in the murder as he continues to grieve the loss of his mother and brother and deals with the imprisonment of his killer father.