Stephen Smith

A recent report says that investigators looking into the 2015 death of Stephen Smith ordered a rape kit to be used on the victim’s body. This is an unusual step for what was said to be a traffic accident death.

The body of a 19-year-old nursing student from South Carolina was found near the property of the Murdaugh family. At first, officers on the scene thought the death looked like a murder, but an autopsy showed it was a hit-and-run.

Mike Duncan, a now-retired corporal with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, told NewsNation it was the first time he had heard of a rape kit examination ordered for a death in a traffic collision. The report says that the exam was ordered 13 hours after Smith’s body was found.

When asked if he had seen something like that before, Duncan said, “Never in a traffic accident.”

“It was the first time ever. I did not understand why it was being asked for. We didn’t know it had been ordered until after the fact,” he told the show’s host, Ashleigh Banfield. “So no, I have no answers for you for why they would order a rape kit for a, what would be suspected as a hit-and-run, which it wasn’t, but I will never understand that.”

Duncan, the leader of his unit, said that his team was called off the case around the time that the rape kit was ordered.

“I didn’t understand why we weren’t given the chance to be a part of it from the start,” he said. “When we finally got to work on the case, it all made sense.”

He also said that by the time he retired, investigators “had never been told anything” about what the rape kit had found.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) looked into the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh at the same time they looked into the death of 19-year-old Smith.

Disgraced legal scion Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of killing his wife Maggie and son Paul early this month.

A few days later, SLED said it was looking into Smith’s death as a murder, but it hasn’t said what other evidence was found.

Early on in the investigation into Smith’s death, the name of the Murdaugh family came up many times, according to a local news source, FITSnews. However, the family was never mentioned in early police reports. Nobody from Smith’s family was ever asked about his death.

Smith was a classmate of Buster, Murdaugh’s only son who was still alive. Smith was gay. Buster has never been officially blamed for his death, and there has never been any proof that he did.

But he just recently put out a statement condemning “defamatory comments and rumors” that have been going around the area since 2015 and say that he had a secret relationship with Smith and wanted to shut him up.

“These false rumors that I had something to do with Stephen’s death are not true. I deny without a doubt that I had anything to do with him dying, and my heart goes out to the Smith family,” his statement said.

In July 2015, Smith’s body was found in the middle of the road near the Murdaugh family’s huge Moselle estate. He had a big cut on the right side of his head.

Smith was hit by a car while walking up the road because his car had run out of gas, according to the official police report. The car was found more than three miles from where his body was found. His wallet was in the car, and the gas cap was open.

The teen probably hurt his head when he was hit by a semi-mirror truck’s as it drove by, a coroner said, according to the Associated Press. However, other investigators have since questioned and disproved this theory.

A lawyer looking into the case, Ronnie Richter, recently told reporters: “There were no skid marks around his body. There was no vehicular debris found. His shoes were still on his feet, which were only loosely tied. It is our job today to launch a new investigation into this death in the hopes of finding real answers.”

According to FITSnews, Smith’s mother, Sandy Smith, told the FBI in a letter in 2016 that the Murdaugh family quickly got involved in the 2015 investigation.

“The first call my family got after Stephen was killed was from the police telling us he was dead,” Smith wrote in the letter. “The second came quickly from lawyer Randolph Murdaugh the next morning. In fact, he called my ex-husband’s cell phone as we waited in the police station for a positive identification. He said he heard of the case and was interested in working pro bono as a liaison between the family and investigators.”

She remembered that a “young man” had talked to Chris, Stephen’s older brother, and said, “I was there when Stephen was killed and saw everything with my own eyes.”

“He said that the nephew of Solicitor Murdaugh, Buster Murdaugh, who went to high school with Stephen, killed Stephen with a baseball bat. “He said Stephen was gay, so that was the reason,” she wrote, according to the report. “The witness said they were out breaking mailboxes when they saw Stephen, and Buster took advantage of the situation.”

Sandy Smith has since raised enough money to start the process of having her son’s body dug up. She has also hired a legal team to lead the investigation into what happened to the body after it was dug up.

Buster Murdaugh said in a statement earlier this week that he had tried “to ignore the vicious rumors about my involvement in Stephen Smith’s traffic death that continue to be published in the media while I grieve over the brutal murders of my mother and brother.”

“Progress has been made,” SLED said Wednesday about its investigation.

“From SCHP case notes, it was clear that the SCHP did not think Mr. Smith’s death was caused by a hit-and-run,” the agency said.

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