SC - Stephen Smith, 19, homicide, Hampton Co, 9 Jul 2015 *new death investigation 2023*

Stephen Smith’s phone, tablet unlocked by South Carolina officers



  • Stephen Smith’s death was first ruled a hit-and-run in 2015
  • The case is being reinvestigated by South Carolina authorities
  • Buster Murdaugh has denied ‘any involvement’ in Smith’s death


Although rumors have swirled in South Carolina’s Lowcountry about Smith and Murdaugh’s son, Buster, there is currently no known evidence linking any Murdaugh family members to Smith’s death.

Stephen Smith’s phone, tablet unlocked by South Carolina officers

Updated: Nov 28, 2023 / 03:06 PM CST
 
Video is 4 + minutes - SS: "all I want is peace and to know what happened to my son"


"48 Hours" investigates cold case of Stephen Smith​


"48 Hours" investigates the unsolved death of Stephen Smith, who was killed in 2015 in South Carolina. The 19-year-old's case went cold for years until 2021 when the high profile murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh stirred new interest in his case. Now, Stephen's mother, Sandy, is working with a team of lawyers and experts to find out what happened to her son. Nikki Battiste joins "CBS Mornings" with a preview of her report.
 
5 minute video


Stephen Smith’s phone, tablet unlocked by investigators: ‘It will yield some information’ | CUOMO​


The death of Stephen Smith, one of Buster Murdaugh’s high school classmates, was ruled a hit-and-run after Smith’s body was found in the middle of a road in 2015, but the case is now being reinvestigated as a homicide. Authorities have not released any evidence linking any Murdaugh family members to Smith’s death. Smith’s mother, Sandy, and her attorney, Eric Bland, believe key evidence may live in Smith’s phone and tablet that investigators have finally unlocked.
 
Updated with opinion of Dr. Kenneth Kinsey -- no baseball bat and SS most likely hit at the road scene by passenger side vehicle mirror or ladder.


11/26/23

Dr. Michelle Dupre: It split his skull.

They were also able to put to rest some rumors, including the one that Stephen had been beaten with a baseball bat.

Nikki Battiste: It wasn't a baseball bat?

Dr. Michelle DuPre: No. … those type of injuries would cause something that we call pattern injuries, and we don't see that here. … This is a linear fracture — as well as this is here (points to a diagram of the head).


Just as important as what they found, DuPre says, is what they didn't find.

Dr. Michelle DuPre: We didn't find fractures of any part of the body, except for the head. … There was a little road rash, which you would expect.

[..]

Dr. Michelle DuPre: We don't believe that he was placed there. We believe that … whatever happened — happened right there.

Dr. Kenny Kinsey agrees.


Nikki Battiste: You think he was killed right here?

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: Right there.

A crime scene expert and star prosecution witness in the Murdaugh murder trial, Kinsey worked with DuPre to analyze Stephen's case. He says the evidence at the scene is clear.
Dr. Kenny Kinsey
: That's a massive amount of blood. And if he had that kind of injury somewhere else, it wouldn't be that uniform.

Due to their sensitive nature, "48 Hours" created versions of the crime scene photos in which the blood and body are shown as graphics.

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: The quantity of blood, the direction of the flow in the road, and then the direction of all … the - the blood on his person — led me to … the only conclusion.

Kinsey's convinced an object attached to a vehicle traveling at high speed caused the single fatal blow to Stephen's head.

Dr. Kenny Kinsey
: Whatever hit him was fast and it was large.

Nikki Battiste: So a hit and run, but an atypical hit and run?

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: Yeah, very atypical.

[..]

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: And from what I understand from interviewing neighbors, it's been there for well over a decade.

Kinsey theorizes Stephen was walking along the road, trying to flag someone down for help.

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: He is walking this direction in the — in the lane facing traffic. … whatever was attached to the vehicle or hanging off of the vehicle … whenever it struck Stephen … he went down in — in this area somewhat on this line (lying in the road as Stephen was found).

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: The vehicle that struck Stephen was coming toward him just like that vehicle in the — photograph.


Nikki Battiste: Like this?

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: Yes, goin' that direction.

Kinsey says the evidence suggests the driver saw something in the road and changed lanes.

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: And sometime before it struck Stephen, I believe it changed into the oncomin' lane …

That's when he says an object from the passenger side struck Stephen.

Nikki Battiste: What kind of object could it be?

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: It could be anything. It could be a ladder … hangin' off the back of — a work truck. It could be a extended side mirror … the metal type that you see on some farm vehicles or some larger vehicles.

That scenario matches up with the tip from 2015 involving Patrick Wilson and Shawn Connelly, which Kinsey calls plausible.

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: That certainly would be possible … that would be one of the places I would start.

SLED has kept its investigation close to the vest, but Bland and Richter say a grand jury was empaneled and issuing subpoenas.

Eric Bland: They're honing in on specific individuals. And I think there's about five or less that SLED believes has information regarding Stephen's death.

View attachment 464190
BBM: The Doctor is talking about that a bat was not used because that usually causes a pattern of injuries. I don't agree with him. This was one blow. Not a pattern of blows. I know I'm not a Doctor but this is what my opinion. I believe that if it was a side mirror, there would have been glass or parts of the mirror on the highway. JMO
 
I just lost my brother weeks ago to a hit and run. And the severe injuries sustained to a body being hit and thrown by a moving vehicle are no way comparable to the blunt, skull fracture sustained by SS here. Something at SS's head level struck him only in the the head.

Kinsey's convinced an object attached to a vehicle traveling at high speed caused the single fatal blow to Stephen's head.

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: Whatever hit him was fast and it was large.

Nikki Battiste: So a hit and run, but an atypical hit and run?

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: Yeah, very atypical.

CBS/48-HOURS
I am so very sorry for your loss, @Seattle1

I read your post earlier this afternoon and could not reply right away....too many memories. My son was hit by a truck at age 6. He barely survived but it took years to get him back to himself and able to function and live life again.

My very deepest condolences for you and your family's loss. But by the grace of the Great Spirit would I know the pain you feel. My son was spared and it makes me feel guilty but so very grateful at the same time.

I am so very sorry....I have to say that again. I too know and saw what a truck can do to a human being. I wish for you the absence of thoughts, memories of that accident and I hope you only remember your brother as he once was.

May the Great Spirit hold and keep you close during this time.
 
Sandy questions why it took BM nearly eight years to make a statement about SS's death and that he was at the beach house with his mother when SS was killed.


11/28/23

South Carolina authorities reinvestigating the death of Stephen Smith have now unlocked the deceased teen’s phone and tablet, attorney Eric Bland told NewsNation host Chris Cuomo on Monday evening.

[..]

Bland and Smith’s mother, Sandy, believe renewed access to the teen’s electronic devices may reveal key evidence in the case that could potentially provide a link to the Murdaugh family.

“I think between the phone and the tablet, it will yield some information that, close in proximity to when Stephen was killed, should explain: Was he (Stephen) going away with a prominent person, as he told his mother? But more importantly, SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) will be able to talk to the investigating officers and confirm whether Alex Murdaugh was at the accident scene,” Bland told Cuomo.

Sandy Smith insists she saw Alex Murdaugh on the scene in 2015.

“It’s very simple. Somebody’s going to have seen him there. I believe my client. I don’t think she’s told one single untruth in this whole process, and she doesn’t have an axe to grind with anybody,” Bland said.

Smith’s body was discovered in the middle of a rural road in Hampton County, South Carolina, in July 2015. It was reportedly found a few miles from a Murdaugh family property.
Exactly this!!! BM now wants to give an alibi but the witnesses are dead. I know he has support from his Murdaugh family and probly his girlfriend but he is AM 2.0, IMO. He was, is and will always be an empty suit and unlike AM doesn't have the b*lls, ambition or fortitude to be anything but a follower and a wannbe. A little man in a grown man's body,all JMO.

I believe Sandy, and true to the Murdaugh way, AM and RM are on the scene trying to control what goes on. Grandpa must have been busy that morning. How would they know and why would they care that SS was a victim of a fatal accident unless a family member or LE told them and they knew him or his lifestyle?? As ambulance chasers, there was no one to sue, yet. There's more to it than RM's connection to father Joel, JMO.
 
I still think the guy who owns the store/place where AM could go to cash checks and SS also knew and I THINK that reference to his lifestyle was made is involved in some way. Didn't SS go on fishing trips with him??? or did I dream this?? All JMO.
 
5 minute video


Stephen Smith’s phone, tablet unlocked by investigators: ‘It will yield some information’ | CUOMO​


The death of Stephen Smith, one of Buster Murdaugh’s high school classmates, was ruled a hit-and-run after Smith’s body was found in the middle of a road in 2015, but the case is now being reinvestigated as a homicide. Authorities have not released any evidence linking any Murdaugh family members to Smith’s death. Smith’s mother, Sandy, and her attorney, Eric Bland, believe key evidence may live in Smith’s phone and tablet that investigators have finally unlocked.
It's interesting that RM wanted to represent the Smith family pro-bono and that SS (SS's mom) saw AM at the crime scene assisting RM, according to the video.

Similar to the Murdaugh (at the hospital) activity with the boating crash which caused the death of Mallory Beach.




Hospital staff also told investigators that they observed Paul's father Alex Murdaugh going from room to room, attempting to speak with the other survivors. A security guard also reported that he overheard him on the phone saying "She's gone. Don't worry."
 
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In the quoted link, Dr. Kinsey opines that SS was likely in the roadway trying to flag down the driver who likely changed lanes when they saw somebody in the road, and the something on the passenger side of the vehicle struck SS.
So maybe it was a tragic hit and run accident. The driver swerved or changed lanes to avoid running him over. I can visualize it now but being in the road like that is dangerous.

Now the question becomes...a cover up or gross incompetence?
 
So maybe it was a tragic hit and run accident. The driver swerved or changed lanes to avoid running him over. I can visualize it now but being in the road like that is dangerous.

Now the question becomes...a cover up or gross incompetence?

The "hit" may have been accidental, but the "run" was almost definitely not. IMO, leaving someone to die at the scene of an accident is both a cover up *and* gross incompetence.

And, I should add that if the driver swerved, it's just as likely that he was trying to frighten Stephen and misjudged the distance. It's not an uncommon occurrence:

 
So maybe it was a tragic hit and run accident. The driver swerved or changed lanes to avoid running him over. I can visualize it now but being in the road like that is dangerous.

Now the question becomes...a cover up or gross incompetence?
Probly a little of both. Something is still wrong with this!!! Even after the experts!! And if so, why didn't the person stop???? They would likely not charged with anything.
 
Probly a little of both. Something is still wrong with this!!! Even after the experts!! And if so, why didn't the person stop???? They would likely not charged with anything.
Maybe they had alcohol or drugs in their system. In a blackout. Or scared they'd go to jail? I'd say if I accidentally killed a person trying to avoid the collision and stopped I'd be tested for drugs. If positive then I'd be charged with a crime. IMO.

I am not defending nor condemning anyone.
 
Maybe they had alcohol or drugs in their system. In a blackout. Or scared they'd go to jail? I'd say if I accidentally killed a person trying to avoid the collision and stopped I'd be tested for drugs. If positive then I'd be charged with a crime. IMO.

I am not defending nor condemning anyone.
There were already allegations of a drunk driver by two officers but the drunk driver allegedly recanted and lawyered up:

OFFICER: Darrell called me and he said … Patrick come over here to the house. … He said … that Shawn Connelly was drunk and hit something … he went back the next day to see what it was he had hit. And he seen a lot of police out there ...

OFFICER: Patrick was crying, telling him. And after he got finished telling the story, he walked outside his house and threw up.

CPL. MICHAEL DUNCAN: … Did he go into any detail about how it happened? …

OFFICER: Supposedly he had … fixed his mirror … one of the mirrors up on the truck.


The side mirror story matched Stephen's original death certificate. For reasons that are unclear, there is no record of Duncan or Proctor ever speaking to Connelly or Wilson.

CBS/48 HOURS
 
I just lost my brother weeks ago to a hit and run. And the severe injuries sustained to a body being hit and thrown by a moving vehicle are no way comparable to the blunt, skull fracture sustained by SS here. Something at SS's head level struck him only in the the head.

Kinsey's convinced an object attached to a vehicle traveling at high speed caused the single fatal blow to Stephen's head.

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: Whatever hit him was fast and it was large.

Nikki Battiste: So a hit and run, but an atypical hit and run?

Dr. Kenny Kinsey: Yeah, very atypical.

CBS/48-HOURS
So sorry about you losing your brother. I lost my big brother a year ago and it hits hard.
 
All - thank you so much from the depths of my broken heart for your kind words, thoughts, prayers, and support. We were born only 16 months apart and were always close. To be honest, I'm still very much in denial. xx :(
 
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