CBS’s 48 Hours investigates Stephen Smith’s death


The death of Stephen Smith in 2015 in Hampton County was re-examined when the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh focused the spotlight on Smith once again. At the time the death was ruled a hit and run. Sandy Smith has always pushed for a second opinion certain Stephen’s death was not an accident. Now working in conjunction with lawyers (Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter) and other experts, Sandy Smith is more than determined to find out what happened to her son.

Stephen’s body was exhumed in April of 2023. Dr. Michelle DuPre, previously an investigator and forensic pathologist supervised the examination. DuPre’s findings stated that Stephen Smith died from a single blow to his forehead causing severe fracture to the skull. DuPre commented the blow “split his skull”. The only other injuries present were a small amount of road rash. The lack of any other fractures, no signs of a struggle, and no signs of physical assault eliminate the chances of Stephen being struck by a vehicle. DuPre also assessed the findings also disprove earlier thoughts that Smith’s body was staged. DuPre and fellow doctor, Dr. Kenny Kinsey both agree that the evidence (quantity of blood, direction of flow, and the blood on Smith) points to Stephen died where he was found. Kinsey stated that he is “as close to a degree of scientific certainty as [he’s] ever felt” that something attached to a vehicle moving at a high rate of speed caused the deadly blow to Smith’s head. “Whatever hit him was fast and it was large”, Dr. Kinsey declared. He theorized an object from the passenger side of a vehicle struck Stephen as he was walking down the road after his vehicle became disabled. However, even with this new evidence it cannot be said with absolute certainty that Stephen’s death was accidental or intentional. Regardless, Attorney Ronnie Richter asserts Stephen was left in the road and in that state, which is a felony.

The Murdaugh connection came with the initial investigation into Smith’s death. The investigation looked into rumors that Smith and Buster Murdaugh were romantically involved and that Murdaugh was in the vehicle that was involved in Smith’s death. After Smith’s death was labeled a homicide, Buster released a statement saying “these baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false. I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family”.

At the helm of all this is Stephen’s mom, Sandy Smith. To keep Stephen’s memory alive, she established a college scholarship in his name. In addition, she is offering a $30,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest in the case. He call to action is, “now it’s your turn that if you know something, that you say something”.

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