The storm cloud looming over Alex Murdaugh's remaining family members continues to grow as his only surviving son Buster's late classmate Stephen Smith's body is set to be exhumed following his mysterious 2015 death, RadarOnline.com has learned.
Amid the season of reckoning in South Carolina's Low Country, Smith's tragic and unsolved case was reopened — and a shot a justice was renewed by public support.
Smith's family confirmed the news, revealing they will exhume his body for an independent autopsy following the attention his death gained during Alex's murder trial — and after raising enough money to do so thanks to a GoFundMe.
Within seven days of its launch, the GoFundMe page created to fund "an independent exhumation and autopsy" exceeded its $15k goal. According to the page, organized by Smith's mother, Sandy, the family has raised a whopping $44k.
The body of Smith, 19, was found in the middle of Sandy Run Road — located a short distance from Moselle, the Murdaugh's private ranch, and the crime scene for Alex's wife Maggie and son Paul's 2021 murders.
Initially, Smith's death was ruled a hit-and-run by the coroner — although the teenager's body showed trauma and injuries inconsistent with that type of accident.
Smith was found with blunt force trauma to his head, believed to be a gunshot wound, as well as injuries to his left arm and hand. He was also discovered with his shoes on, an unlikely occurrence in cases of fatal impact by a vehicle.
The Smith family and highway patrol officers, who were originally assigned Smith's case, refused the coroner's ruling — but their requests for an independent investigation were ultimately ignored.
When Smith's case was reopened following Paul and Maggie's murders, past allegations linking Buster to his former classmate emerged.
- Stephen Smith's Death Officially Ruled Homicide 8 Years After Body Found Near Convicted Murderer Alex Murdaugh's Home
- GoFundMe For Late Stephen Smith Raises Over $110,000 In 18 Days As Police Investigate Death As 'Homicide'
- Investigators 'Making Progress' On Reopened Case Into Death Of 19-Year-Old Stephen Smith, Alex Murdaugh's Son Buster Accused Of Having Link To Victim
During the initial investigation, Buster and his family name were documented dozens of times in information gathered from tips and interviews. It was claimed that Buster and Smith could have been involved in a romantic relationship, which would have been frowned upon by his powerful family.
While Smith's mother, Sandy, denied the rumor, she remained steadfast in her pursuit of answers about her son's death.
Thanks to the generosity of strangers, the Smith family was one step closer to receiving those answers.
"Our family is so very grateful to all of you who came together to help us in our fight for justice for Stephen," Sandy wrote in a statement. "I could not have imagined when we began this fundraiser that it would take off the way that it did."
"Thank you for not allowing Stephen’s story to be swept under a rug," she added to the GoFundMe page update.
It was a long road that ended with Alex being convicted of Maggie and Paul's murders. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Alex's attorneys plan to appeal the verdict.