The death of Stephen Smith, whose body was found in the middle of a South Carolina road in 2015, is now being investigated as a homicide, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division told CNN on Tuesday.
The announcement came a day after Buster Murdaugh — the son of Alex Murdaugh, who was convicted earlier this month in the deaths of his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul — issued a statement saying he had nothing to do with Smith’s death.
Murdaugh and Smith were high school classmates.
Smith’s body was found on a road in Hampton County on July 8, 2015, not far from the Murdaugh hunting property where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were killed.
Officials said Smith’s cause of death was blunt head trauma sustained from being hit by a vehicle.
On Tuesday, however, SLED confirmed there was no indication in the investigation that Smith was hit by a vehicle.
Smith had injuries to his left arm, hand and head, according to notes taken by a SLED investigator at the scene.
Smith’s vehicle was found about three miles away from where his body was found. According to the report, the car’s gas tank door was open and the gas cap was hanging out on the side of the car. The vehicle’s battery worked, but the car would not start, investigators said.
SLED announced in June 2021 it was opening an investigation into Smith’s death based on information learned while investigating the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh that had happened earlier that month, CNN reported.
SLED has not revealed what, if any, connection there is between Smith’s death and Alex or Buster Murdaugh.