Crime & Courts

FITSFiles ‘Death On The Tracks’: Manner of Death

Autopsy review revelations …

Slowly but surely, emerging truths are starting to guide the investigation into the unsolved murder of Daniel Reed “DJ” Smith of Dorchester County, South Carolina. And for the first time, Smith’s family is finally getting answers to some of their most pressing, unresolved questions.

The latest episode of FITSFiles – part four of our ongoing “Death on the Tracks” story – is available now on  AppleSpotifyGoogle or wherever you download podcasts.  Our story continues with an independent, expert analysis of DJ’s autopsy. The findings of an emergency doctor and trauma expert – who reviewed the file on the condition of anonymity – has the investigative team exploring multiple crime scenes in the search for justice.

Smith’s body was discovered on a remote stretch of railroad tracks near Ridgeville, S.C. on August 11, 2018.  Despite an early statement from the local coroner’s office indicating DJ was murdered and then placed on the tracks, investigators seemed intent on blaming the victim for what led him to such a horrific end. In the process, they seemed to ignore that key evidence provided by the railroad – Norfolk Southern – was both incomplete and misleading. 

The expert autopsy analysis – presented in this week’s podcast in its entirety – explained many of Smith’s injuries while at the same time confirming the family’s suspicions that foul play was involved in his death.

Although our investigation remains far from over, producer and lead investigator Jenn Wood was able to deliver with certainty two key conclusions: 1) DJ did not die where his body was recovered, and 2) his initial internal injuries were so significant he would have been unable to survive even if he had received immediate medical attention.



DJ’s mother, who has long suffered nightmares of the unknown circumstances surrounding his final moments, was finally able to know for sure that her son died immediately – and did not suffer. Following his death, someone moved Smith to that place on the railroad tracks where his body and his belongings were eventually found.

But who … and why?

This week, the FITSNews team is visiting that spot on the tracks in search of evidence and information that will lead to more answers – and hopefully the identification of suspects in his death.

Investigations by the Dorchester County sheriff’s office and the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) neglected to interview or even identify some witnesses. More importantly, they failed to find evidence supporting the most basic of conclusions – that this tragic event was a murder and not an accident or suicide.

As noted in the podcast, we want you to participate in this ongoing conversation – to be a part of the resolution.  Let us know what you think happened!  No one should be shy about sharing their perspectives, observations and conclusions as we continue to seek the truth on behalf of DJ and his family – and other victims of unsolved crimes.

Anyone with information about the circumstances surrounding the murder of DJ Smith is encouraged to make contact by emailing

FITSFiles is written, produced and hosted by our team of dedicated journalists including this reporter, research director Jenn Wood, special projects director Dylan Nolan and founding editor Will Folks. New episodes drop every Wednesday morning. Be sure to like and subscribe to FITSFiles on your podcast platform of choice (including AppleSpotifyGoogle and others) so you won’t miss a single episode.



Callie Lyons (Provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher, and author whose investigative work can be found in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world – most recently in the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and a German documentary for ProSieben. Lyons also appears in Citizen Sleuth – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.



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1 comment

J Monday Top fan September 28, 2023 at 6:45 am

After listening to the latest episode, I’m confused. It is believed he was struck by a vehicle…intentionally? His fellow drug user cohorts? Not a random vehicle that accidentally hit him & tried to cover it up? These bits & pieces that have been offered by his cohorts led to the conclusion of intentional murder as opposed to accident or manslaughter?


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