Buster Murdaugh Denies Involvement in Death of Gay ‘Hit and Run’ Victim Stephen Smith as Exhumation, Autopsy Loom

The scion of the Murdaugh family broke his silence and denounced ‘vicious’ and ‘defamatory’ rumors linking him to Smith’s death.

AP/Chris Carlson
Buster Murdaugh arrives at the Colleton County Courthouse at Walterboro, South Carolina, March 3, 2023, for his father's sentencing. AP/Chris Carlson

The elder son of Alex Murdaugh, Buster Murdaugh, spoke out to deny his involvement in the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, 19, after a Netflix series focusing on his father’s crimes brought renewed attention to another mysterious death in the South Carolina Low Country.

“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,” Mr. Murdaugh, 26, said Monday. “I love them so much and miss them terribly.”

Buster Murdaugh has claimed that he has faced harassment since his father was convicted of the murders of Buster’s brother and mother, Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.

Alex Murdaugh, 54, was convicted in early March and was sentenced with the maximum punishment of two consecutive life terms without parole. Murdaugh is facing a variety of other charges as well, including breach of trust with fraudulent intent and charges relating to the alleged theft of $8.5 million over 11 years.

Before Murdaugh was convicted of murder he was the head of his family’s law firm as well as of a family business that went back four generations in the Low Country.

The same attorneys representing the victims of Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes are now representing the family of Stephen Smith, an openly gay teenager who was found dead on a rural road in summer 2015.

Buster Murdaugh’s statement Monday came shortly after the attorneys for the Smith family announced that Smith’s body would be exhumed for an independent autopsy. South Carolina law enforcement officials reopened the case last summer as the various Murdaugh investigations gained speed.

“Thank you for not allowing Stephen’s story to be swept under a rug,” Smith’s mother, Sandy Smith, said in a statement on a GoFundMe page raising autopsy funds. “We will pursue the exhumation immediately and provide updates along the way. 

Smith’s death was classified as a hit and run by the state’s autopsy, angering Smith’s family members, who claim the evidence does not point to a hit and run as cause of death. Investigators claimed Smith had blunt trauma to the head, possibly caused by a car mirror. Smith’s family counters it could have been a gunshot wound.

Although no suspect was officially named in Smith’s murder, a family friend of the Smiths, Susanne Andrews, told Live 5 WCSC that the Murdaugh name came up repeatedly in the police investigation into Smith’s death.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,“ Ms. Andrews said. “There has to be something to it, whether indirectly or directly there has to be some kind of tie to that.”

On Monday, Mr. Murdaugh firmly denied what he calls “baseless rumors” alleging his “involvement with Stephen and his death.”

“I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family,” Mr. Murdaugh said. “I am requesting that the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me.”

Correction: The Murdaugh name came up repeatedly in the police investigation into Smith’s death, according to Susanne Andrews. The extent of the possible involvement between Murdaugh and Smith was misstated in an earlier version.

The New York Sun

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