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South Carolina detectives say they were not asked to investigate Stephen Smith’s 2015 ‘hit and run’ death until years later when Alex Murdaugh’s wife and son were killed. 

A new statement from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division states the agency did not look into the death of Buster Murdaugh’s classmate until 2021, after Margaret and Paul Murdaugh both died mysteriously. 

‘SLED was not requested by the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office or the South Carolina Highway Patrol to investigate Mr. Smith’s death in 2015,’ law enforcement officials said in a statement released Wednesday. 

Smith’s body was found alongside a vehicle on a rural road not far from the Murdaugh home and cops were later tipped off about an alleged gay relationship between him and Buster, Netflix and HBO claim in a special documentary. 

Earlier this month, his mother Sandy launched a GoFundMe to exhume his body to get a ‘new, unbiased look at his body and an accurate determination of his cause of death based on facts,’ the fundraiser states. 

This comes as a letter to the FBI written by Sandy in 2016 has also resurfaced in which she implicates Buster Murdaugh in her son’s death and claims the investigation was ‘deliberately derailed.’ 

Stephen Smith was found dead on July 8, 2015, on a rural road not far from the Murdaugh hunting lodge that would become a bloody murder scene six years later

Stephen Smith was found dead on July 8, 2015, on a rural road not far from the Murdaugh hunting lodge that would become a bloody murder scene six years later

Following Smith's death, cops were tipped off about an alleged gay relationship between him and Buster which was being gossiped about at the local high school, Netflix and HBO claim in a special documentary

Following Smith’s death, cops were tipped off about an alleged gay relationship between him and Buster which was being gossiped about at the local high school, Netflix and HBO claim in a special documentary

Following Smith's death, cops were tipped off about an alleged gay relationship between him and Buster (far right) which was being gossiped about at the local high school, Netflix and HBO claim in a special documentary

Following Smith’s death, cops were tipped off about an alleged gay relationship between him and Buster (far right) which was being gossiped about at the local high school, Netflix and HBO claim in a special documentary

Earlier this month, his mother Sandy launched a GoFundMe to exhume his body to get a 'new, unbiased look at his body and an accurate determination of his cause of death based on facts'

Earlier this month, his mother Sandy launched a GoFundMe to exhume his body to get a ‘new, unbiased look at his body and an accurate determination of his cause of death based on facts’

Despite there being ‘no debris in the road’ and injuries that were ‘not consistent with a hit-and-run,’ according to Sandy, SLED did not further pursue the case. 

In their new statement released on March 22, SLED officials said at the time they had no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary in the case. 

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‘SLED Crime Scene Agents were dispatched from SLED’s Headquarters and responded to the scene,’ the statement reads. 

‘Upon arrival, SLED Crime Scene Agents processed the crime scene,’ it continues.

The statement went on to say that it was only after medical examiner Dr. Erin Presnell concluded Mr. Smith died from being struck by a motor vehicle that they were dismissed. 

‘Due to the medical examiner’s determination, the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office requested the South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP) to investigate Mr. Smith’s death,’ the statement indicates. 

‘SLED was not requested by the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office or the South Carolina Highway Patrol to investigate Mr. Smith’s death in 2015,’ it reads. 

That changed, however, in June 2021 after SLED opened an investigation into his death due to new information. 

While the statement does not share what the information may have been, they could be referring to rumors that Smith had a relationship with Buster Murdaugh. 

Upon review, officials say it then appeared Smith did not die from a hit and run. 

‘From SCHP case notes it was apparent that the SCHP did not believe Mr. Smith’s death was a hit and run by a motor vehicle. SLED’s investigation into the death of Mr. Smith was never closed – it remains a homicide investigation,’ the statement reads. 

The investigation remains ongoing as Smith’s loved ones continue to push for the truth to come out. 

Detectives say they hope that people are now ‘more willing to speak freely’ than they might have been in 2015 or in 2021. 

This is the new statement from SLED officials released on Wednesday

This is the new statement from SLED officials released on Wednesday 

SLED reopened the investigation into Smith's death in 2021, citing new evidence that was uncovered while investigating murders of Buster's mother Maggie Murdaugh and brother Paul

A Netflix documentary explored their alleged relationship, though at the time Buster refused to give a comment

Alex Murdaugh (left) has been jailed for the murders of his wife Maggie (second left) and youngest son Paul (second right)

Alex Murdaugh (left) has been jailed for the murders of his wife Maggie (second left) and youngest son Paul (second right)

The mother's fundraiser to exhume her son's body has so far raised more than $92,000. Her initial goal was $15,000

The mother’s fundraiser to exhume her son’s body has so far raised more than $92,000. Her initial goal was $15,000

Stephen Smith's car found along Sandy Run Road in Hampton, South Carolina

Stephen Smith’s car found along Sandy Run Road in Hampton, South Carolina

Sandy and her lawyers have always stated they do not believe Smith was killed in a hit and run, but rather that he was killed elsewhere and his body was placed there. 

The mother’s fundraiser to exhume her son’s body has so far raised more than $92,000. Her initial goal was $15,000. 

She and her team are hoping to get an independent autopsy that will confirm their suspicions. 

In interviews earlier this week, Sandy’s lawyers said they believe the truth could come out with their own research.  

‘A fresh set of eyes and a new autopsy may yield a different conclusion that Stephen was not killed on Sandy Run Road in Bamberg County, that maybe he was killed somewhere else,’ attorney Eric Bland said this week.

They have already begun their petition to a judge in South Carolina to allow them to exhume Smith’s body. 

If and when that happens, SLED officials plan to ‘be present and participate in any exhumation of Stephen’s body to gather more evidence,’ lawyers said. 

This comes after the lawyers claim the law enforcement agency said they don’t even believe the exhumation is necessary to convince them of foul play.  

‘SLED officials have revealed that they did not need to exhume Stephen Smith’s body to convince them that his death was a homicide,’ the lawyers added.

Smith's death was officially ruled a hit and run despite highway cops stating that they found no evidence of the usual tell-tale signs

Smith’s death was officially ruled a hit and run despite highway cops stating that they found no evidence of the usual tell-tale signs

Eric Bland said witnesses could now speak 'without fear' following Alex Murdaugh's conviction for killing his wife and son

Eric Bland said witnesses could now speak ‘without fear’ following Alex Murdaugh’s conviction for killing his wife and son

Buster Murdaugh, 26, the sole surviving son of the disgraced legal scion, on Monday denied 'vicious rumors' that he was involved in his former classmate's death

Buster Murdaugh, 26, the sole surviving son of the disgraced legal scion, on Monday denied ‘vicious rumors’ that he was involved in his former classmate’s death

The latest developments come as one outlet has also published a letter written by Sandy in 2016 where she begs the FBI to investigate Smith’s death. 

Sandy wrote that it was ‘apparent’ that critical evidence was being covered up and that she needed outside investigators to do the job.   

‘This investigation is being deliberately derailed,’ the grieving mother wrote.

She directly connected Buster to the crime and alleged the Murdaugh family was attempting to cover up the crime. 

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Sandy said the Murdaughs inserted themselves into their lives after Smith’s death and even before he was confirmed to have been the ‘hit and run’ victim. 

‘The first call my family received after the murder was from authorities notifying us of Stephen’s death,’ she wrote at the time.   

‘The second came very quickly the same morning from solicitor Randolph Murdaugh. In fact, he called my ex-husband’s cell phone as we waited in the police station for a positive identification,’ the letter continued. 

‘We also weren’t sure how he found out so quickly – even before it was confirmed to be our son,’ the mother wrote to the FBI. 

After Smith’s death, his twin-sister Stephanie also was allegedly approached ‘multiple times by peers’ who said the Murdaughs were involved. 

‘As a family, it was suspicious to us since he had taken such an immediate interest in the case and then became unreachable so quickly,’ the mother wrote at the time. 

This is part one of the letter Sandy Smith sent to the FBI in 2016

This is part one of the letter Sandy Smith sent to the FBI in 2016

In the letter, the mother pleads with the FBI to investigate her son's death

In the letter, the mother pleads with the FBI to investigate her son’s death

Sandy wrote that it was 'apparent' that critical evidence was being covered up and that she needed outside investigators to do the job

Sandy wrote that it was ‘apparent’ that critical evidence was being covered up and that she needed outside investigators to do the job

'This investigation is being deliberately derailed,' the grieving mother wrote in her letter

‘This investigation is being deliberately derailed,’ the grieving mother wrote in her letter

Sandy said the Murdaughs inserted themselves into their lives after Smith's death and even before he was confirmed to have been the 'hit and run' victim

Sandy said the Murdaughs inserted themselves into their lives after Smith’s death and even before he was confirmed to have been the ‘hit and run’ victim 

Investigators have never revealed if there was a link between Smith’s death and the Murdaugh family, even as witnesses allegedly gave tips linking them together.

A Netflix documentary explored their alleged relationship, though at the time Buster refused to give a comment.

More than half of the people interviewed during the investigation mentioned hearing rumors of Buster’s possible involvement in Smith’s death – but he was never brought in for questioning, the documentaries said.

Buster is currently thought to be holed up at his lawyer girlfriend’s property in Hilton Head, and was spotted walking dogs at the property several times during the trial.

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