In light of concerns regarding Stephen Smith’s 2015 death that surfaced during the investigation into the killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, his parents have declared that they will exhume his body.
State police initially believed that Smith had been hit by a car while running for assistance after experiencing car difficulty when he was discovered dead on a country road not far from the Murdaugh residence.
But, fresh information uncovered during the double murder investigation has cast doubt on the manner of his demise, and his family has gathered more than $44,000 to pay for an impartial autopsy.
Smith’s mother, Sandy Smith, started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for an impartial autopsy, prompting the decision to exhume Smith’s body.
The Smith family is hoping that by applying for a permit to exhume his body in South Carolina, a fresh, objective look at his body will be given, allowing for a fact-based judgement of his cause of death.
State police reopened the case in June 2021 after discovering fresh information about Smith’s death during the investigation into the killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.
Early in the morning, Smith was discovered dead on a South Carolina road with a head injury caused by blunt force. Three miles distant, his yellow Chevy was discovered with the gas cap unscrewed and his wallet inside.
While there was no road debris and Smith was discovered with his shoes still on, which is a rare occurrence for accident victims, some officers questioned the initial judgement that he had been hit by a car.
In addition, Seth Stoughton, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, questioned whether the initial conclusion—that hit and run is the proper conclusion—was accurate.
An independent autopsy will give Smith’s family an objective, fact-based judgement of his cause of death because they feel he was murdered.
The community’s compassion and support for the family has been overwhelming, and the fundraising campaign exceeded its initial target of $15,000 by almost three times.
They appreciate Standing for Stephen’s and the community’s help in bringing attention to Stephen’s case and the injustice that has been done.
An independent autopsy costs roughly $7,000, while online advertisements from private autopsy companies list exhumation autopsy fees between $3,000 and $6,500.
Once concerns regarding Stephen Smith’s 2015 death surfaced during the investigation into the killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, the decision was made to exhume his body.
His family is appreciative of Standing for Stephen and the community’s support and they are hopeful that an independent autopsy will accurately identify his cause of death based on facts.
The story serves as a reminder of the value of carrying out exhaustive investigations and requesting independent autopsy when doubts exist regarding the cause of death.
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