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Back in February, my news outlet issued a call for an independent forensic review of the autopsy of Stephen Smith – the Hampton County teenager whose 2015 death has become a central focus of the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga.

Smith’s body was found in the middle of Sandy Run Road near Crocketville, S.C. in the early morning hours of July 8, 2015. His death was controversially ruled a vehicular hit-and-run by Erin Presnell, a forensic pathologist at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

What led Presnell to reach that conclusion? That’s a question people are still asking nearly seven years later … as none of the investigators on the scene found any evidence to support that conclusion.

Last spring, agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) opened an investigation into Smith’s death. In fact, they announced the inquiry just two weeks after the high-profile murders of 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh at the family’s hunting lodge in Colleton County, S.C.

At the time, a SLED spokesman said the agency was opening the Smith case “based on information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.”

Fifty-three-year-old attorney Alex Murdaugh remains a person of interest in connection with the double homicide – which is currently unsolved.

Also unsolved? Stephen Smith’s murder– although there is reportedly significant motion in this case as the statewide grand jury probing the broader Murdaugh saga has ramped up its efforts.

Actually, we have learned there are two investigations related to Stephen Smith – one into who killed him and a second probing allegations of obstruction of justice in the aftermath of his murder.

In an effort to get to the bottom of this mystery, forensic expert (and podcaster) Shannon Ferguson has taken this news outlet up on its challenge. Earlier this month, Ferguson traveled to South Carolina with her team – which includes fellow forensic experts Harlette Lacau and Bertha Hurtado.

(Click to view)

(Via: Dylan Nolan/ FITSNews)

Ferguson (above) told me the Smith case has fascinated her as a professional, but horrified her as a human being – and as a mother.

“It was brought to me because of my forensic background – people thought I would have a great interest in it,” Ferguson told me this week. “When I heard the whole case – my stomach sank. When I heard the entire case – which if you ask me, started with Stephen Smith.”

“It just hit me in the pit of my stomach – what would I do if it happened to my child?” Ferguson added.

Ferguson, Lacau and Hurtado spent several days in the Palmetto State Lowcountry earlier this month – walking the crime scene, reviewing documents and meeting with local sources.

(Click to view)

(Via: Dylan Nolan/ FITSNews)

“What we really want to do is bring justice for Stephen,” Lacau told me. “That’s our mission here and our goal.”

“It’s been too many years,” Hurtado added. “And still a lot of questions that went unanswered.”

Describing the team’s decision to take on the Smith case, Hurtado said it was “a commitment” the three woman unanimously agreed was worth undertaking.

“And once you commit, you commit to the cause, you commit to the family – you commit to the person,” Hurtado said.

Ferguson, Lacau and Hurtado hope their visit to the Palmetto State – and their appearance on FITSNews – helps facilitate the sort of collaborative relationships necessary to solve this mystery.

“Hopefully this opens a door for people to be willing to collaborate and provide what’s needed to solve the case,” Lacau said.

Which reminds me … if anyone has information related to the Stephen Smith case that they would like to provide the team, they can submit it via email by clicking here. All information will be considered confidential and the team will not reveal their sources … to anyone.



(Via: FITSNews)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. Oh, and unlike some leaders in the S.C. General Assembly, he knows how to tie a Windsor knot.



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BANNER VIA: Dylan Nolan/ FITSNews