The surviving son of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh wants to make something abundantly clear: He is no murderer.
Buster Murdaugh, who testified on his father’s behalf during the latter’s double homicide trial in Walterboro, South Carolina last month, issue a statement on Monday morning shooting down rumors of his alleged involvement in a case that has been linked to the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga.
Murdaugh issued his statement in connection with the still-unsolved murder of Stephen Smith – a Hampton County teenager who was killed on July 8, 2015.
“These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false,” Murdaugh said in the statement, which was released exclusively to NBC’s Today show. “I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death.”
Here is the statement from Buster Murdaugh in its entirety …
I have tried my best to ignore the vicious rumors about my involvement in Stephen Smith’s tragic death that continue to be published in the media as I grieve over the brutal murders of my mother and brother. I love them so much and miss them terribly.
I haven’t spoken up until now because I want to live in private while I cope with their deaths and my father’s incarceration.
Before, during and since my father’s trial, I have been targeted and harassed by the media and followers of this story.
This has gone on far too long.
These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false.
I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family.
I am requesting that the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me.
– BUSTER MURDAUGH 3/20/2023
Smith’s body was found in the middle of Sandy Run Road near Crocketville, S.C. where it was discovered by a passing motorist at approximately 4:00 a.m. EDT on the morning of July 8, 2015.
His death was initially classified as a vehicular hit-and-run by Erin Presnell, a forensic pathologist at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Presnell reached this conclusion even though Smith’s injuries – which included a 7.25-inch laceration on the right side of his forehead – were inconsistent with a vehicular strike.
There was also zero evidence of a vehicular strike on the roadway where Smith’s body was found.
“I saw no vehicle debris, skid marks or injuries consistent with someone being struck by a vehicle,” trooper D.B. Rowell of the S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP) wrote in his report describing the crime scene. “We see no evidence to suggest the victim was struck by a vehicle.”
Another SCHP investigator who walked the scene found “no evidence of car parts or pieces” on the scene, and the location of Smith’s body in the middle of the roadway was inconsistent with a vehicular strike.
The investigation into Smith’s death reemerged on the radar in a big way after it was prominently featured in the hit Netflix documentary ‘Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal.’
Agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) opened a homicide investigation into Smith’s death just two weeks after the savage slayings of 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh on June 7, 2021 at Moselle – the Murdaugh family’s 1,700-acre hunting property straddling the Salkehatchie River on the border of Colleton and Hampton counties.
“Significant progress” has been made in the investigation, we are told – although as I have previously reported that progress does not appear to be focused on any members of the Murdaugh family (at least as it relates to Smith’s murder).
Furthermore, sources familiar with the status of the inquiry have consistently debunked rumors that any “evidence” – or any other information – related to Smith’s murder was obtained from Moselle in the aftermath of the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh. Those rumors are false.
The information which led SLED to open its homicide investigation into Smith’s death was contained in the original 2015 SCHP report – not anything related to the Moselle murders.
“Everyone assumed it was the Murdaughs,” one Hampton, S.C. source told me last fall. “But there were a lot of people in (Stephen Smith’s) little black book.”
(Click to view)
This news outlet recently reviewed files extracted from at least one personal electronic device purportedly used by Smith (and in his possession) at or around the time of his death. That review strongly suggested Smith was engaged in what could charitably be described as high-risk behavior at the time he was killed.
According to my sources, law enforcement investigators have been digging through these files in the hopes of identifying who is responsible for his unsolved murder.
This news outlet published an extensive update on the Smith case earlier this month … and just last week Smith’s mother, Sandy Smith, launched a GoFundMe campaign seeking to raise money for her late son’s exhumation and an independent forensic examination of his body.
That page raised more than $60,000.
Sandy Smith held a news conference on Monday morning with her new attorneys, Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, announcing they were launching a “new investigation” into Smith’s death – including a petition to exhume Smith’s body. That petition is expected to be filed within the next ten days, with Bland telling reporters he was “confident” the court would approve it.
This news outlet called for an independent forensic review of Presnell’s autopsy findings – including the exhumation of Smith’s body from its resting place in Gooding Cemetery in Crocketville, S.C. - over a year ago.
“It is abundantly clear an independent review of Presnell’s autopsy of Stephen Smith must be conducted immediately – up to and including the exhumation of Smith’s body from its resting place in Gooding Cemetery in Crocketville, S.C.,” I wrote last February. “Such a drastic step may be the only way to start uncovering the truth.”
During their news conference on Monday morning, Bland and Richter were asked about Buster Murdaugh's statement.
"There's no reason to discuss Buster Murdaugh - and there's no reason to comment back to Buster Murdaugh," Richter said.
Moments later, though, Bland indicated the investigation was not focused on either Buster or the Murdaugh family.
"We have no knowledge of Buster or any of the Murdaughs having anything to do with this," Bland said.
SLED had no immediate comment Monday morning in response to any of the new developments in Stephen Smith's case. Nor did the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson, which has been leading all of the various Murdaugh-related prosecutions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...
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.
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