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Crime & Courts

Stephen Smith Investigation: Exhumation, ‘Persons Of Interest’ Update

Are there even more Murdaugh connections to this unsolved mystery?

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Last week, this news outlet caused something of a stir when we posted our latest file drop from the ongoing murder investigation of Hampton, South Carolina teenager Stephen Smith – whose body was exhumed over the weekend from its resting place at Gooding Cemetery in Crocketville, S.C.

Family attorney Ronnie Richter confirmed the exhumation of Smith’s body to reporter Riley Benson of WCBD TV-2 (NBC – Charleston, S.C.) late Saturday. Public information director Renée Wunderlich of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – the agency overseeing the process – declined to comment.

Readers will recall this news outlet first called for the exhumation – and an independent review of controversial initial autopsy conclusions – over a year ago.

“Such a drastic step may be the only way to start uncovering the truth,” I noted at the time.

I am glad to see this process is finally underway …

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To recap: Smith’s body was discovered by a passing motorist (a tow truck driver) at approximately 4:00 a.m. EDT on July 8, 2015 in the middle of Sandy Run Road near Crocketville, S.C.

Initially misclassified as a vehicular hit-and-run, the investigation was originally handled by the S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP) “Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team” (MAIT).  It wasn’t until nearly six years later that it became an active murder case handled by SLED.

SLED opened a homicide investigation into Smith’s death shortly after the savage slayings of 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh on June 7, 2021 at Moselle – a 1,700-acre hunting property straddling the Salkehatchie River which until recently belonged to the Murdaugh family.

Disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh – a scion of this once-dominant legal dynasty – was convicted of those killings and sentenced to life in prison in March of this year.

(Click to View)

Investigators on the scene of Stephen Smith’s murder on July 8, 2015 (SCHP)

Smith’s case has attracted international attention after it was prominently featured in the hit Netflix documentary, ‘Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal.’

What, exactly, is the Murdaugh connection to the case, though? That remains a mystery … but the family’s name has been all over the case from the beginning.

As this news outlet reported last week, two individuals currently viewed by SLED as persons of interest in connection with Smith’s death – Patrick Wilson and Shawn Connelly – were embroiled in various legal actions tied to the Murdaugh family in the months following Smith’s murder.

Not only that, it was a Murdaugh who pointed the finger at them in the first place.

On December 18, 2015 – five months after Smith’s murder – SCHP investigators received a tip from Wilson’s self-described step-father, Darrell Williams of Varnville, S.C. According to Williams, Wilson claimed that Connelly – another Hampton County teenager – was driving a vehicle which “struck and killed Stephen Smith.”

Who told him to share this information? According to the report, Randy Murdaugh – Alex Murdaugh’s older brother.

According to case notes contained in the MAIT report, Williams stated “the reason he was passing this information on was because Randy Murdaugh told him to call.”

Take a look …

(Click to View)

MAIT report case notes (SCHP)

On December 21, 2015, SCHP corporal Michael Duncan conducted an interview with Nick Ginn – who at the time was an officer with the Hampton, S.C. police department. Ginn has since been elected to Varnville town council.

Duncan told Ginn that SCHP investigators had tried to contact Wilson but “he avoided the call, the contact and all.”

According to Ginn, Williams relayed to him in a phone call in early December 2015 that Smith was struck by a vehicle – specifically, one of the side mirrors of Connelly’s truck.

“Basically, Darrell called me and he said, ‘Look … he said this is what I was told – he said Patrick (came) over here to the house … he told me that Shawn Connelly was drunk and hit something,’” Ginn said. “He said he went back the next day to see what it he had hit and he (saw) a lot of police out there. So he talked to one of the cops, and then he had left and then he learned – I guess by media – that somebody had been killed in that same area. That’s why the police were there.”

According to Ginn, Williams told him “Shawn called (Wilson) crying, saying that that’s what had happened.”

Wilson was reportedly so distraught after retelling the story he became nauseated.

“Patrick was crying telling him and after he got finished telling the story, he walked outside his house and threw up,” Ginn said, referring to his conversation with Williams.

This response convinced Williams that Wilson was telling the truth, according to Ginn.

(Click to View)

FITSNews/ YouTube

Ginn also told Duncan he believed Connelly had repaired damage to the mirror of his truck in the aftermath of Smith’s death.

“(Supposedly), he had fixed his mirror – he had patched one of the mirrors up on the truck,” Ginn told Duncan.

Asked by Duncan whether Wilson described how Smith was struck, he referred once again to the mirror.

“Supposedly it was the mirror,” Ginn said, noting he had sent SCHP “pictures of the truck that (Connelly)’s driving and he would have been driving that night.”

Readers will recall Marc Bickhardt – who claimed to have been Smith’s boyfriend – said Smith had mentioned two “rednecks” in a pickup truck who had allegedly harassed him at Snider’s Crossroads on Highway 63 between Walterboro and Varnville, S.C. on the night he was murdered.

According to Bickhardt, Smith claimed the two individuals who harassed him were riding in a “big truck” with mud tires.

(Click to View)

A SCHP trooper walks the scene of Stephen Smith’s murder on July 8, 2015 (SCHP).

“The last time we talked that night – before the phone went down – and I said to him, ‘are you walking or not?’ … I know at one point I heard big mud tires,” Bickhardt said. “Big mud tires. They’re like coming toward him or going past because they sounded loud – and they were getting louder. And that, I believe was the last time I talked to him.”

So … would Smith being struck by the side mirror of a truck explain the absence of vehicular debris on the scene?

Possibly … but how would it explain the location of Smith’s body in the middle of Sandy Run Road?

Again, had Smith heard a truck (or any vehicle) approaching … wouldn’t he have moved to the side of the road?

SLED interviewed Ginn in the fall of 2021 – a few months after the agency launched its murder investigation. It is not immediately clear what information was obtained by agents during the course of this interview. Also, a private investigator working for Charleston, S.C. attorney Andy Savage – who was representing Stephen Smith’s family at the time – attempted to interview Ginn around the same time and was given a completely different story than the one he told investigators in December 2015.

According to the private investigator – former U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent Steven Peterson – Ginn recanted his prior statements about Connelly, the truck mirror and the pictures he purportedly provided to SCHP.

“Ginn denied all of that when I spoke with him,” Peterson said.

Meanwhile, Williams reportedly changed his story as well – telling Peterson he “never said anything about Randy Murdaugh telling him to go to the police about Patrick Wilson.”

Whatever happened, there remain multiple Murdaugh connections to both Wilson and Connelly. As previously noted, at the time of Wilson’s “confession” he was facing attempted murder charges – charges which were later dropped by the office of S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor Duffie Stone.

As our regular readers are well aware, Stone followed Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather into office and “served at the pleasure of the Murdaughs,” according to one Hampton historian. Stone also employed Alex Murdaugh as a badge-carrying assistant solicitor at the time Smith was murdered.

Adding a layer of suspicion? Wilson was represented in his attempted murder case by none other than Cory Fleming of Beaufort, S.C.

(Click to View)

Cory Fleming (Kershaw County Detention Center)

Fleming is currently facing eighteen criminal counts including conspiracy, breach of trust, money laundering, computer crimes and obtaining property by false pretenses in connection with a scheme to defraud insurers following the 2018 death of Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield. Alex Murdaugh is facing a dozen charges in connection with the same scheme.

Fleming also accompanied Murdaugh to SLED headquarters in Walterboro, S.C. in August of 2021 for his third (and final) interview with investigators probing the Moselle double homicide.

S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman is expected to set a trial date for the Satterfield charges soon.

As if these connections weren’t sufficient to raise eyebrows, on August 7, 2015 – a month after Smith’s death – Randy Murdaugh filed a motor vehicle accident lawsuit against Connelly on behalf of his client, Christopher Still. Less than a year later – on May 17, 2016 – another Murdaugh attorney filed a separate motor vehicle accident lawsuit against Connelly.

Both actions were later dismissed by Murdaugh-friendly judges in the fourteenth judicial circuit.

Were these cases being used as leverage? And if so, to what end?

Let me be clear: I am not saying Connelly and/ or Wilson killed Smith – accidentally or otherwise. Nor am I saying they were being positioned as patsies by the powerful Murdaugh family following the crime (perhaps in the hopes of deflecting attention from something more sinister).

All I know is SLED has reportedly zeroed in on Connelly and Wilson “as the top suspects in the investigation” as the agency brings additional resources to bear on this crime. Also, according to our law enforcement sources, at least one of these ‘persons of interest’ attempted to manufacture an alibi regarding their whereabouts on the evening Smith was murdered – which is obviously a major red flag.

And one of the reasons for the added scrutiny …

Hopefully Smith’s exhumation will yield useful evidence for investigators as they try to piece together what happened on that fateful evening nearly eight years ago on Sandy Run Road.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks on phone
Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks on phone
Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

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.

***

WANNA SOUND OFF?

Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to proactively address? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.

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17 comments

SubZeroIQ April 2, 2023 at 11:52 pm

Really FITS, do cottonmouth snakes and wild hogs disappear from the grass and woods of low-country South Carolina in July just because a 19-year old decides to walk three miles at night? The middle of the road is EXACTLY where a night-walker would be safest from snakes and hogs on either side of the road in July. The coverage of everything Murdaugh-related made me disbelieve (or at least doubt) everything I read or hear in any media except possibly NPR, and even they are losing my confidence and respect when they parrot, without scientific proof, that puberty blockers are safe and effective and necessary to prevent trans suicides. Be that as it may, you did run the actual July 2015 interwiews of Stephanie and Sandy Smith. Three things I could reliably conclude are: (1) it was a disfunctional family; (2) Sandy Smith was not ” a poverty-stricken single mother” but a jacuzzi-owning divorcee whose children lived, not with her, but with their father; and (3) Stephen Smith was not a nursing student yet but was taking some courses to complete his high-school requirements. I see no reason for the pathologist to have lied and expect nothing more than confirmation of a skull fracture in exhumed 8-year old bones. No soft tissues remain after that long. The flesh-eating critters, like the cottonmouth snakes, do not change their natural ways for Stephen Smith or for anyone. Give it a rest and try to say something useful about the budget deficits.

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Anonymous April 4, 2023 at 10:02 pm

Or, he was killed elsewhere and placed there.

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stephen henry Top fan April 3, 2023 at 1:08 pm

SubzeroIQ lives up to her handle.

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Jill Downey Top fan April 3, 2023 at 4:20 pm

Stephen Henry I’ll say. About as uneducated about the facts and as hateful as one can get.

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SubZeroIQ April 5, 2023 at 10:24 am

Why was Mandy Matney at the exhumation but not FITS? And why does Sandy Smith take another woman’s coat during the exhumation? Sandy’s own own daughter, Stephanie, told police early on that Sandy was fixated on “Mac (Brickhart) did it; Marc did it.” Then Sandy wrote, without any evidence, to the FBI that Buster beat Stephen with a baseball bat. Then Sandy fired two previous lawyers who would not go along with pretending Buster is involved. Then Sandy Smith turned her vitriol on the professional Dr. Erin Presnell. Now that even Dr. Michelle Dupree has admitted that Dr. Presnell had done a very professional first autopsy and that experts can disagree, and now that even Kinsey, Ph.D. has stated it could have been a hit-and-run after all, will Sandy Smith have the courage or decency to apologize to all the people whose reputations she ruined? If I, JUST FOR EXAMPLE, said Sandy Smith was the 5-foot-2 second shooter of Paul and Maggie, I would get eaten alive. Sandy Smith used false sympathy to raise money when CLEARLY she did not care enough for Stephen during his life to have him live with her but instead sent him to live with his father. The facts are all there in the early interviews and in the rape kit, the results of which we are not told about. Sooner or later, someone will wake up to Sandy Smith’s schemes. You cannot fool all the people all the time.

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Clare Grossman Top fan April 8, 2023 at 3:43 pm

Dear SubZero – thanks. I am in agreement that Sandy Smith is a grifter but “a sucker is born every minute” which explains the GoFundMe haul. Stephen gets a halo because he is gay and nobody wants to face the truth that he was working for an agency that traffics in underage boys. Apparently, he was also dealing drugs. But the Murdaugh family is now like Trump i.e. anyone that criticizes them is a media darling. Alex Murdaugh was a big supporter of Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden which is rarely reported, not that it matters. The media generates lots of clicks by insinuating Buster killed Stephen. Time will tell.

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SubZeroIQ April 6, 2023 at 11:54 pm

Yeah, all it was was a ruse to raise money with which to bribe or threaten someone to point the finger at Sandy Smith’s suspect du jour. They did not need a second autopsy and are NOT saying what its results, if any, were. They are not releasing the result of the rape kit even though they insist it was not lost. And on and on and on. It all adds up to one thing: the evidence is pointing to suicide, perhaps by siphoning gasoline then standing in the middle of the road to be hit, but they want to milk the death for all it’s worth by blackmailing someone. Maybe by this time Sandy Smith decided the “powerful man” her son puffed and bluffed about dating is Lindsey Graham. Am I the only one baffled by the hypocrisy of all this fawning over Sandy Smith, who eight years ago lost a son who did not even live with her, while being so cruel to Buster who lost a mother and a brother?

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SubZeroIQ April 8, 2023 at 6:24 am

“uneducated and hateful”? Well, Kenny Kinsey, Ph.D admitted on Julie Grant’s show that the woods are “unforgiving” and that it could be a hit-and-run after all. Please eat your “uneducated and hateful” words against me. Real hate is the cruel mocking of the decent ladies who wrote to Alex Murdaugh (“AM”) to comfort him in his prison, which is one of the main things Jesus Christ said for Christians to do: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the imprisoned. Thanks!

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Nancy Bryson Top fan April 9, 2023 at 9:44 am

Sub-Zero and Clare Grossman make good sense.

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Tj April 24, 2023 at 1:58 am

SubZeroIQ sounds like they have it all figured out. It also sounds like they need to go outside and get some air and sunshine. Your biased opinions have something in common with a certain body part.

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SubZeroIQ April 12, 2023 at 11:36 am

Sandi Smith is South Carolina’s 21st Century Susan Smith with a couple of twists. Susan Smith drowned her own children to get them out of the way of her social climb to marry the heir to a textile factury. Sandi Smith emotionally abused her children so she can use them to blackmail the heirs to a prosperous law firm. Notice she has “allocated” $35K from the money she raised on her Go-Fund-Me page for info leading “to the conviction” of someone for Stephen Smith’s murder? Notice she did that after the “second autopsy” she had insisted on and which SLED itself had said is unnecessary? One answer explains everythign and has NO holes: Stephen Smith tried to commit suicide by siphoning and swallowing the gasoline from his car; but when that did not work, he decided to commit suicide by walking from there into oncming traffic until hit. By her own admission in her 28 September 2016 letter to the FBI, Sandi and her late ex-husband accepted Randy Murdaugh’s offer of representation in what they all thought was a hit-and-run. When it became clear it was really a suicide by walking into oncoming traffic, and Randy abandoned the Smiths’ claims for compensation, Sandi Smith tried to turn the claim against the Murdaughs themselves and blackmail them.

Let’s examine the beaten-to-death-by-a-baseball-bat theory against the known PHYSICAL facts. It had to have been done anywhere between where Stephen’s car was stopped and where his body was found. Why would Stephen have gotten out of his car, locked it, and gone with people, at least one of whom was armed with a baseball bat? And why he would have stood there to be hit with a baseball bat without even INSTINCTIVELY raising his arm to cover his head? Why is there NOT ONE DROP of blood at the car and no defensive wounds on Stephen’s arms? Stephen walked in the middle of the road ON PURPOSE to get hit. Taste for great litterature? That is how Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina died, with the slight difference of her having stood in the path of an oncoming train, not truck. Taste for local history? That is how the Murdaugh Dynasty Founder died, with his car on the path of a train. That is how a majority of suicides with an eye to the family collecting from uninsured motorists or life insurance happen. Why would Stephen Smith be above all mortals who decide on suicide in moments of despair? Because he was gay? We are told that the suicide rate is high among gay youths? Did he have a bright future? NOT REALLY! He had not even completed the courses necessary to enroll in some community college; and was cutting even his remedial classes. His now-feted mother had sent Stephen to live with his father who did not accept his lifestyle. Stephen’s sister and so-called boyfriend were apparently only interested in pimping Stephen out. He did not find love on Craig’s list. The powerful man Stephen dreamt of exploiting either did not exist or called Stephen’s bluff. In her refusal to acknowledge that she failed Stephen in his life, Sandy Smith is ruining Dr. Erin Presnell’s reputation and setting Buster Murdaugh up for a false conviction or for a vigilante murder as she did Paul. Remember? Her letter to the FBI accused BOTH Paul and Buster. Someone killed Paul for her; and another yelled Buster is next upon Alex Murdaugh’s wrongful conviction. Most tellingly, the lawyer Sandi Smith did not fire after firing all others who said Buster is not involved, Eric Bland, shut up after the second autopsy and tried to tell everyone to leave alone the very facts Sandi & Co. cried to have “re-examined.” Tell me which of the above did not happen.

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SubZeroIQ April 12, 2023 at 11:00 pm

I am amazed at how stupidity can become gospel if repeated often enough. No one was afraid of the Murdaughs back in 2015. No one was afraid to spread the baseball bat story about Buster. Law enforcement were not, in 2015, afraid to tell supposed “tipsters” “Buster has been on our radar for a while.” Sandi Smith was not, back in 2016, too afraid of the Murdaughs to write to the FBI that falsehood about Buster AND PAUL having beaten Stephen to death with baseball bats. Most of all, I am amazed at how people accept that Alex shot his son Paul on whom he doted and to whom he was hoping to bequeath Moselle so easily yet cannot see how Sandi Smith, who by her own admission to the FBI knew her son was in a supposed relationship with a powerful man but did not stop it as harmful to Stephen, drove Stephen to suicide by walking into oncoming traffic just as some people commit suicide by walking on train rails. BTW, the blue chewing gum was in Stephen’s stomach, not his mouth, at autopsy. It means he chewed the gum then swallowed it instead of spitting it out sometime before his death. The chewing gum in Stephen’s stomach has absolutely no ability to prove or disprove the cause and manner of Stephen’s death.

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SubZeroIQ April 13, 2023 at 10:45 pm

I would have to give FITS his due for the interview with Steven Peterson IF FITS would stop calling it a murder. Neither Theory A nor Theory B is a murder; one is an accident and the other manslaughter.
What really stinks to high heaven is Sandy Smith HERSELF having given the all-important I-Pad to “Darryll and Darryll” then gone crying to high heaven that evidence was tampered with, hidden, and destroyed.
It is also now established that Sandy Smith has used NONE of the Go-Fund-Me money for the exhumation or the second autopsy but that SLED paid $100K for that. Also Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter claim to be working for Sandi Smith pro bono; and Kenny Kinsey, Ph.D. said on other shows that he did not bill yet.
Sandi Smith “allocated” $35K as a reward that will never be paid because there will never be a conviction.
All the schmucks who paid Sandi Smith’s Go-Fund-Me cannot admit they were duped; so, they kling even harder to the Buster-baseball-bat filthy confabulation.
Come to think of it, perhaps Bland-Richter are not really in it pro bono but with an eye to telling Buster, “See? We pinned two muders on you dad; we can pin a third one on you. Cough up the rest of the money.” That explains what Mark Tinsley said at the trial, “an offer he can’t refuse.” It also explains why SLED re-opened the Stephen Smith investigation right after the Maggie and Paul murders. It was a back-up in case Alex got acquitted. Now, SLED does not know where to go after painting itself into a corner: kow-towing to Sandi Smith but having no evidence to frame Buster. So, we hear NOTHING from SLED two weeks after the second autopsy was done.

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SubZeroIQ April 15, 2023 at 1:17 am

May I add some medical points, which anyone can check elsewhere if they doubt me? First, the bleeding. You need the heart to be pumping for arteries to bleed. Veins, if cut or torn. can continue to bleed after death, specially the head and neck veins. The one blow to Stephen Smith’s head caused a long fracture on the right side of his head, which tore a lot of emissary veins and perhaps a venous sinus. Second, if you saw footage of an actual hanging or if you saw a mouse after the mouse trap fell on its neck, there is instant death but a twitch or two below the neck. When the stem is severed from the higher brain, the lower spinal cord reflexes still work for a moment but are not regulated by the higher brain. So, it is possible for the body to not be totally flat on the road. Third, the knocked-off-their-shoes thing totally depends on the vectors of the forces. So, if the sole point of impact was of the metal casing of a side mirror of a truck at the height of Stephen Smith’s forehead, the velocity of the vehicle multiplied by its mass would be enough to break that side of his skull but would not necessary have been transmitted to his feet to knock his shoes off. Fourth and foremost, and this goes back to the Alex Murdaugh (“AM”) trial, narcissism in Psychiatry is NOT a synonym for selfishness. Some arrogant police officers and some well-meaning lay people were willing to jump to the conclusion that AM murdered his wife and son because he stopped to ask a newly arriving officer, “how are you doing?” Poetry describles, Science measures. Fiction speculates, Science observes. Some experiments cannot ethically be done. So, the next best thing are the natural experiments, meaning events that would have been unethical to reproduce in a laboratory but that happened in real life under circumstances where they can be accurately observed and measured. I think the best “natural experiment” of a reaction of a loved one’s brain’s blown off is Jackie’s reaction to JFK’s shooting; and it is recorded on film of which we know the rate was 18 frames per second, meaning 1/18th of a second from one frame to the next. If you compare Frames 370 and 371 in the Zapruder film, you cannot say that AM’s reaction convicts him of the murders anymore than you can say it was Jackie who shot JFK.

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SubZeroIQ April 15, 2023 at 1:10 pm

Kenny Kinsey, Ph.D face the truth: Bland-Richter did not trust you, nor do they actually believe you can contribute anything to this scam except your credibility. They hired you because you are popular and because you have that southern country boy spiel perfected. You actually testified that you cannot rule out a second shooter. You met Sandi Smith. How tall is she? Add an inch or two because post-menopausal woman lose bone and height; and she still would have been between 5-2 and 5-4 in June 2021. You unwittingly (I am still choosing to believe it was not intentiontional on your part) contributed to the wrongful conviction of an innocent man. Now what is your excuse in delaying the exoneration of his surviving son? You cannot be oblivious to the real risk that someone will harm Buster Murdaugh because of all those false and filthy rumors that he killed Stephen Smith with a baseball bat. You should take the courageous stand of DEMANDING that both Mark Keel and Eric Bland appear for a press conference AND TAKE QUESTIONS on the fact that the second autopsy showed ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE of a gang attack with baseball bats or even of one strike with a baseball bat. If Mark Keel and/or Eric Bland will not to that, you should IMMEDIATELY sever your ties with them. You owe the late Paul Murdaugh at least that much. You well know that the filthy and false rumors implicated him too. Don’t drink more of the coolaid. Do the right thing.

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SubZeroIQ April 17, 2023 at 11:50 am

? The possibility that Stephen Smith wanted to commit suicide yet let appear like an accident must be seriously investigated. It happens all time in vehicular suicide. In that flat country, there was no cliff for Stephen Smith to drive off of; so, he chose the next available option. Or maybe he did not move fast enough, or moved in the wrong direction. There are so many other PHYSICALLY-PLAUSIBLE possibilities consistent with the PHYSICAL FACTS but that are being ignored because idiots want to parrot “Murdaughs paid even the pathologist off but Sandi Smith is a saint even though she let her son cut school and plan to go on rich old man’s yacht.” That is what I find most “odd.” ?We must also question THAT “MOTHER” and not let others become victims of some of HER OWN previously-determined OBJECTIVELY-false assertions. I am also offended by the double-standard, which I believe comes mainly from coveting the Murdaughs’ money (no matter how they got it), of the total heartlessness about Alex Murdaugh’s grief over his son Paul, to the point of even the jurors closing their minds to Alex’ tears, while everyone is fawning over Sandi Smith, whom no one ever saw shed a tear over Stephen, and with whom Stephen did not even live. I am all for critical thinking; but I am NOT for selective application of critical thinking. It is now clear that police did NOT look for any other possible killer of Maggie and Paul and IMMEDIATELY assumed Alex is the killer just because he said “how are you doing?” to a late-arriving officer. For all I know, Sandi Smith herself could have been the 5-foot-2 shooter of Paul whom she had, without basis, accused of killing Stephen with a baseball bat in a 2016 letter to the FBI. Or it could have been someone who bought Sandi Smith’s Buster-baseball-bats falsehoods; or it could have been that man who shouted “Buster is next. Your son is next, Alex.” Heck, if it so easily accepted that Alex shot his own son is such cold blood just to gain few days of sympathy, why can’t we investigate if it was Stephen’s own now-deceased father who mowed Stephen Smith down? We know that Stephen’s father did not accept that life style. How do we rule out the possibility that Stephen Smith called his own father to come get him, was walking in the middle of the road to be easily seen, and when the father arrived, he hit Stephen Smith instead? Why do the same people who insist Alex shot his son reject the idea that the Smiths killed Stephen then tried to milk his death for whatever? These, too, are serious questions.

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SubZeroIQ April 17, 2023 at 3:03 pm

Classical diagnostic alogarithm. Take the known PHYSICAL FACTS and see if they fit the most common diagnosis (think horses before zebras when hearing gallops), if not, keep going to the next less common and down the line until you reach the diagnosis NOT refuted by the physical facts. First set of physical facts from the four-page COMPLETE and PROMPT report of the first autopsy: No entry wound, no exit wound, and no radio-opaque projectile on radiographs. Also no shell casings reported. Shot in the head out. Second set of physical facts from the photos (unless optical illusion) much blood under the head and flowing from the head location to the shoulder of the road in one direction. Head fell on the highest point of grading in the middle of the road and bled out to the shoulder of the road. Conclusion: death occurred where body was found. Third set of physical facts from the autopsy: one continuous (not comminuted) fracture of the skull with subgaleal hemorhage. No fracture of arms or forearms as would be in a face-protecting posture. Conclusion: one high-momentum impact. Ruled out multiple assailants with baseball bats. Also, no blood around car but blood in airways. Could be inhaled blood through bleeding through the cribriform plate or through attempted swallowing of siphoned gasoline. Walking in the middle of the road: could be to avoid bites from nocturnal animals in the woods or intentional suicide. Social facts from recorded interviews of family members and “boy-friend” by law enforcement: had NOT started “clinicals,” had not completed requirements to enroll, was cutting classes, and told sister would be “nude-dancing or doing escort to pay for school.” Parents divorced, father seeking workman’s comp and is dying of something. In sum: financial difficulties, academic failures, and no effective family support. Therefore, the diagnosis which cannot be ruled out is suicide by walking into oncoming traffic at night. Perhaps the car malfunction was the last straw. What are the physical and social facts which could rule out that diagnosis?

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