Buster Murdaugh and Stephen Smith homicide investigation includes these 5 things to know

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Murdo’s family addresses keep coming up. The most recent one concerns the South Carolina Division of Law Enforcement (SLED)’s announcement that it is reclassifying the 2015 death of high school student Stephen Smith as a homicide, whose body was found on a remote country road not far from the Murdo family’s property.

As the agency that arrested Attorney Alex Murdaugh for the murder – leading to his dramatic televised trial – the announcement has now led to speculation that the family’s eldest son Buster could be involved in Smith’s death.

But is there real evidence for that? And what does SLED do to investigate it?

Stephen Smith death probe: South Carolina law enforcement says progress has been made

First, some context: As the police investigate the various crimes committed by patriarch Alex Mordeau, shocking discoveries emerge about the influential family – including a past body count. In 2018, Gloria Satterfield, the Murdue family’s housemaid, died after reports of her falling down the family’s front steps.

In 2019, Paul Murdo’s 19-year-old boyfriend, Mallory Beach, died in a boating accident while an apparently drunk Paul was at the helm.

Then there’s the death of Stephen Smith in 2015. After his car broke down, Smith was found dead in the middle of the night on a road about 15 miles from Murdo’s cottage. Smith suffered a blunt force wound to his right forehead. Given the condition of the body—midway, shoes still open, one localized wound visible—the responding officers assessed death as fatal by gunshot.

Buster Murdaugh “has nothing to do” with Steve Smith’s death investigation: Smith’s family attorney

However, after an autopsy, due to the location of the body and the lack of bullet fragments, the medical examiner ruled the case to be shock and flight. Despite the apparent objections of the officers who were on the scene, the case went to the South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP).

Which is where it seems to be getting cold. While much is not public — South Carolina law heavily protects official documents — what has been released shows the last investigative activity was in 2016.

Until 2021. Because, while Alex Murdaugh investigated for murderSLED detection something Which prompted them to announce the opening of the case in the Smith case. And as of last week, not as a hit-and-run, but as a murder.

Concurrent with all of this was the relentless campaign by Stephen’s mother, Sandy, to properly consider her son’s death. “The only difference I had was that it wasn’t a hit-and-run,” she said in a recent interview. “I felt like my son was killed. He was beaten to death.”

Obviously, the events proved successful. She has now raised the funds to have her son’s body exhumed and re-examined by an independent pathologist.

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So what does SLED have to do with this eight-year-old case? Here are five things to know.

1. Original case documents

Officers were on site taking pictures, submitting reports, and recording impressions in emails. The reason some officers questioned the hit-and-run theory was that there were no skid marks or debris typical of pedestrian vehicle collisions. Smith’s loosely tied shoes were still afloat—unusual for a fatal compound crash. Moreover, the position of the body in the center of the road seems unlikely for a pedestrian to be injured while walking on the side of the road.

While the exhumed body may provide more insight into the nature of Smith’s injuries, the original photographs, drawings, and reports (including the original autopsy report) likely tell us more.

2. Digital Forensics

Reports indicate that South Carolina Highway Patrol They obtained Smith’s iPhone and iPad during the original investigation. A search warrant request was also sent to Verizon for Smith’s cell phone records. Aside from providing the primary context of Smith’s life and final hours through emails, texts, app usage, etc., here’s this interesting fact: Smith was found three miles away from his broken down car. Did his phone record the steps he was going to take? Or was he, as some believe, killed in another place, and the scene staged?

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The phone was unlocked, the current Smith family attorney reports, so emails and texts must shed light on Smith’s personal life. Smith was gay, and reportedly had at least one liaison with an older man.

Does the answer to why he requested a rape test within 13 hours of discovering his body lie in the digital record? And who ordered this test, for the hit-and-run?

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3. Traditional forensics

If the body was indeed exhumed and examined, it may not be in a condition which tells us much. Smith’s remains They were sent to a funeral home, where small blue paint flakes were reportedly found on his clothes. Was this from a car or something else? Are the clothes still available? Can it be examined for evidence of hair, fiber or DNA? Smith’s wallet was found in his abandoned car. Can its contents be re-examined? Is the same car available?

4. Witnesses and informants

During the initial investigation, Buster Mordo’s name came up repeatedly. While the record shows that the Highway Patrol chased these rumours, Buster himself was never interviewed.

Smith had taught Buster in high school and played together on a baseball team, so the two knew each other; There were rumors of an affair between them. Is there anyone who can put Buster near the scene that night? Or just as important is his acquittal?

Highway Patrol documents also included Several persons of interest, developed with tips from the public. All of these will likely be played again. Could enough warrants be developed for any of these individuals? Can rebellious witnesses be pressured to provide new information?

5. What does Buster Murdo know?

Has Buster finally been interviewed? In the end, this last category is probably the most important. Without a witness who can place someone at the scene, access to an arrest and indictment will be difficult. But at the moment there is no direct evidence linking Buster Mordo to the murder, Slade Frankly That the case was reopened due to the investigation of his father, Alex.

Buster Mordo continues to deny any involvement in Stephen Smith’s death.

Then there is this. According to a recent Netflix documentary about the Murdo family, after the 2019 boating accident involving his father, Paul Murdo, Alex Mordo, He arrived at the hospital. Attorney Alex was offered to the Mallory Beach survivors by the family’s law firm – without a request. It appears to be an attempt to “run” the story of Paul’s involvement in Beach’s death according to survivors and their families.

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Something similar happened in 2015. According to an article in The Daily Beast, Stephen’s mother Sandy Smith said that the Murdo family members inexplicably arrived at her son’s crime scene on that remote country road.

Then, the first call she received after being notified of Stephen’s death was from attorney Randolph Murdaugh – Alex Murdow’s brother. Sandy says he offered her the services of a family law firm. Free. unwanted.

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