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GoFundMe For Late Stephen Smith Raises Over $110,000 In 18 Days As Police Investigate Death As 'Homicide'

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Source: gofundme

Mar. 27 2023, Published 3:30 p.m. ET

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In only 18 days since it was created, a GoFundMe page for the late Stephen Smith, a former high school classmate of Buster Murdaugh, raised over $110,465, has learned.

The campaign was titled "Justice for Stephen N. Smith, the GoFundMe aimed to drum up financial support for Smith's case — and donations went towards funding an "independent exhumation, autopsy and investigation."

Following the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh in June 2021, investigators uncovered evidence that led to the reopening of Smith's 2015 death, which had previously been ruled a hit-and-run, although all injuries were consistent with a homicide.

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Spearheaded by Smith's mother, Sandy, the campaign outlined the family's fight for justice — and the necessary reasons for an independent investigation to be conducted — 8 years after the Hampton County, South Carolina, teenager's body was found in the middle of a desolate country road, miles from the Murdaugh family's private ranch.

Sandy wrote in the description that "the state can elect and fund an exhumation and new autopsy," however, it was her family's "understanding that it would be carried out at MUSC, where his death was initially classified as hit-and-run despite no evidence to support it."

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Sandy pleaded for donations, so that "a new, unbiased look at his body and an accurate determination of his cause of death based on facts." could finally be determined for her late son.

The grieving mother stated that "there was no debris in the road, and his injuries were not consistent with a hit-and-run."

Luckily, the expected $7,000 cost for an independent autopsy was covered by generous donations from supporters of Smith's case, as well as the $750/per hour cost to have a medical examiner present through the exhumation and autopsy.

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The GoFundMe page additionally informed donators that all proceeds would benefit the family's independent investigation — and would not be kept by Sandy or go towards expenses for her attorneys, "Eric Bland & Ronnie Richter who are donating their time to the exhumation effort."

Since investigators reopened Smith's case in 2021, initial records were reexamined and it was found that the Murdaugh family name was mentioned dozens of times, throughout the investigation's early days and tip hotlines.

It was rumored amongst locals that Buster, the only surviving son of convicted murderer and former state solicitor Alex Murdaugh, and Smith were romantically involved.

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Due to the prominent family's established legacy in the area, it was alleged that the relationship between Buster and Smith would have been frowned upon, if true.

Sandy shared an update to the GoFundMe page after donations overwhelmingly surpassed its initial goal of $15,000.

"Our family is so very grateful to all of you who came together to help us in our fight for justice for Stephen. I could not have imagined when we began this fundraiser that it would take off the way that it did," Sandy wrote in her update. "Thank you for not allowing Stephen's story to be swept under a rug. We will pursue the exhumation immediately and provide updates along the way."

"Thank you for the kind words, prayers, and donations. You have made this possible, and it means the world to us," Sandy added. "This is Stephen's year."

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Buster has denied any involvement in the death.

He said, “I have tried my best to ignore the vicious rumors about my involvement in Stephen Smith’s tragic death that continue to be published in the media as I grieve over the brutal murders of my mother and brother. I love them so much and miss them terribly. I haven’t spoken up until now because I want to live in private while I cope with their deaths and my father’s incarceration."

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Buster added, "Before, during and since my father’s trial, I have been targeted and harassed by the media and followers of this story. This has gone on far too long. 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. I am requesting that the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me.”



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