Crime & Courts

‘Person of Interest’ In Stephen Smith Case Appears In Court

But not in connection with the famous unsolved homicide …

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One of the ‘persons of interest’ in the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED)’s homicide investigation into the 2015 death of Hampton, S.C. teenager Stephen Smith appeared in Colleton County magistrate court on Tuesday.

His appearance had nothing to do with the unsolved mystery of Smith’s apparent murder eight-and-half years ago, however.

Shawn Levi Connelly, 27, of Brunson, S.C., was charged on December 15, 2023 with a watercraft violation, according to court records. The charge was related to the titling of a watercraft – and specifically, to Connelly’s failure to provide a bill of sale on a recently purchased vessel.

The charging officer in the case was Justin Deloach of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).

Connelly was fined $50 for the infraction. His appearance sent the social media rumor mill into overdrive with many speculating it had something to do with the Smith case. It did not.

The other ‘person of interest’ in the Smith case – 26-year-old Patrick A. Wilson of Brunson, S.C. – has also been brought up on unrelated charges in recent months. Wilson was taken into custody in Greenville County last August and held for four days ahead of a bench trial on an alcohol violation. That case also had nothing to do with Smith’s death … or the famed Murdaugh family which has been so often linked to it.

State and local law enforcement agencies remain quiet about the ongoing homicide investigation, which was said to be the subject of an ongoing grand jury investigation.



For those of you unfamiliar with this high-profile unsolved mystery, Smith’s body was discovered in the middle of Sandy Run Road near Crocketville, S.C., in the early morning hours of July 8, 2015. Smith had a horrific head injury initially believed to have been caused by a gunshot wound – but it was later (and quite controversially) determined to have been the result of a vehicular hit-and-run.

Connelly was named in a S.C. Highway Patrol Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) report on Smith’s death – along with Wilson. Our media outlet exclusively published that document (.pdf) back in March. Shortly thereafter, we reported on Wilson and Connelly’s shared status as persons of interest in connection with the Smith case.

Smith’s homicide investigation, which had long remained stagnant amidst rumors of the involvement of Murdaugh family members, attracted international attention after it was featured in media coverage and documentaries related to the financial crimes of Alex Murdaugh – and the murder of his wife and son. While there is no evidence of Murdaugh involvement, the association elevated the case – and the public outcry for justice. Last year, Smith’s body was exhumed for a second autopsy in hopes of discovering clues that could lead to an arrest – and justice for the Smith family.

Connelly and Wilson became persons of interest after Darrell Williams of Varnville, S.C. – who described himself as a sort of step-father to Wilson – contacted a member of law enforcement to divulge information Wilson told him about being in Connelly’s vehicle when he “struck and killed Stephen”.

Despite renewed interest in Smith’s case, the appropriation of new law enforcement resources and the convening of a state grand jury to investigate the incident – no arrests have been made and no record of the grand jury proceedings has been made public.

Count on this media outlet to keep our audience in the loop in the event any of that changes …



Callie Lyons (provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher and author. Her 2007 book ‘Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal’ was the first to cover forever chemicals and their impact on communities – a story later told in the movie ‘Dark Waters’. Her investigative work has been featured in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world. Lyons also appears in ‘Citizen Sleuth’ – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.



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Avatar photo
The Colonel Top fan January 18, 2024 at 11:09 am

Minor editorial question – “…or the famed Murdaugh family…” aren’t they now “…the infamous Murdaugh family…”?

SubZeroIQ January 19, 2024 at 1:10 pm

The death of Sanctimonious Sandi Smith’s (“SSS”) teen-age prostitute son is NO LONGER an “unsolved mystery” and NO HONEST REASON remains to call it “a murder.”
An honest reporter, which this post of yours made me doubt that you, Callie, are, would have noted that the second autopsy CONFIRMED what the first autopsy had determined: there was NO “gunshot” and NO “hit with a baseball bat.” It was indeed motor vehicle v. pedestrian; AND the collision was where Stephen Smith’s body was found.
All the lies spread by SSS about her son having been “murdered” somewhere else and transported to where his body was found ARE SOUNDLY DISPROVED.
You, Callie, should have reported on that, including Kenny Kinsey, Ph.D.’s admission on AT LEAST TWO recent national shows that he has “scientific certainty” that Stephen Smith’s death occurred EXACTLY where the body was found.
Also, the obvious possibility of suicide was either not investigated OR investigated and not reported.
Stephen Smith had many reasons to commit suicide and, most likely, walked into on-coming traffic to disguise his suicide as an accident.
Contrary to SSS’s lies that her son “was on his way to becoming a doctor,” Stephen Smith was failing his midddling nursing school classes. That is a FACT easily confirmed by his nursing school records, which no one cared to FOIA or subpoena.
Stephen Smith also lacked money for gasoline, and could not REALLY get “rich and powerfull” men interested in his made-up girlish looks and photos with pouting lips.
In fact, AM’s truthful testimony in his two-murder trial included his report of his mistrust of SLED because they STILL fail to publicly exonerate Buster in SSS’s son’s case even after having CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE that Buster has nothing to do with SSS’s son’s death.
That, of course, did not stop Eric Bland, from using his “free” representation of SSS to throw stones at AM and at Buster.

There are scientific ways of determining suicide. It is called the psychiatric autopsy. A good reporter should have investigated whether a psychiatric autopsy was performed on Stephen Smith OR should have demanded one instead of parrotting THE LIES that Stephen Smith’s death is an unsolved murder.
It is neither a murder nor unsolved. It is a suicide-motivated accident.

Anonymous April 5, 2024 at 10:54 am

Sub Zero is a great description of your IQ level! You old prune

SubZeroIQ January 21, 2024 at 6:33 pm

Thank God, Ron DeSanctimonious is giving us at least a four-year rest from his xenophobia. Hopefully, Sanctimonious Sandi Smith (“SSS”) will now give us a permanent rest from her Murdaugh-phobia.
Because I have no more free articles left this month, and because articles like this one strengthen my resolve to NOT subscribe to FITSNews, I need to post here my comment on FITSNews’ latest Week-in-Review, specially now that Ron DeSantis has just dropped out.
But before I do, three more things:
(1) DeSantis cannot be Trump’s VP pick because the Constitution requires the President and the Vice President to be from different states; and Trump has officially made himself a Floridian more than two years ago.
(2) Those South Carolina politicians DeSantis has gathered to attack Haley must now have much egg on their face. I always knew that “southern gentleman” BS was code for incompetent white male who feels most threatened by a female of some color. And parenthetically, Nikki needs some color, not melanin but hemoglobin. She is getting too thin and pale for her own good. A little self-care, Nikki! Learn from Simone Biles; but do not take a whole season, just a week between Nevada and South Carolina.
(3) Not that I support “corporatism” or war hawks. But isn’t a corporation BASICALLY a mom-and-pop business which “grew up”? The differences between FITSNews and FOX News are the generation and the size; but each started as a small LOCAL news operation
Now to my post on WIR:
Why should Nikki Haley drop out if she does not win New Hampshire, or even South Carolina for that matter?
It’s a great big country out there; and not all of it thinks like Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina.
Heck! Not even Georgia or North Carolina thinks like South Carolina.
The REAL math: Nikki Haley can rout Trump if you add the blue bicoastals (they have Republicans, too, but of a different kind) and even some of the OTHER heartland.
“First in the South” does NOT mean “first AND LAST in the South.”
If Mahatma Ghandi had given up the first time the British refused to evacuate India, India would still have been a British colony today.
You guys do not understand immigrant perseverance.

Ray February 22, 2024 at 9:56 am

anyone who would call a mother, whose son died and wants to get the bottom of it “sanctimonious” for wanting the truth, says everything any reader would want to know about who you are. and, the notion the murdaugh’s are outstanding citizens is by itself so laughable.

SubZeroIQ January 26, 2024 at 3:54 pm

What do people represented by Eric Bland do other than spread filthy vicious lies about the Murdaughs?
Now we know that the Judge-Clifton-Newman-appointed forelady (Juror 826) of Alex Murdaugh’s (“AM”) two-murder trial is represented by Eric Bland and has a “Bible study” vacation!
When the camera panned on her as AM was led out after the guilty verdict was read, the forelady pretty much looked like Becky Hill herself. Birds of a feather!
Too bad that juror did not go on a “Bible SELF-study” of what the Bible says about taking the Lord’s name in vain and about bearing false witness against one’s neighbor.
In the SLED-provided chart of juror interviews, Jurors 826, 530 and 572, are the ONLY ONES who answer “NO” to all three questions. Are Jurors 530 and 572 represented by Eric Bland, too?
I should be an easy matter to find out what Craig Moyer’s juror number is. He is the one who was falling over himself giving as many media interviews as he could to the effect that Alex Murdaugh (“AM”) was only producing snot ON DEMAND, not crying real tears out of his eyes.
AND it is in the introduction (the non-plagiarized part, that is) of Becky Hill’s book.
One of my brilliant quotables is that words have fingerprints.
Becky Hill’s words’ fingerprints are on Craig Moyers’ media interviews.
Why is all that being swept under the rug?

SubZeroIQ January 27, 2024 at 11:12 am

Because Eric Bland is one of the lawyers downplaying “the Remmer presumption” and elevating “the Green holding,” I want to emphasize that the trial transcript of State [of South Carolina] v. Fabian LaMicheal Rashaad Green shows that what the bailiff said there to a juror is light years different from what Becky Hill allegedly said to the Murdaugh jurors.
Still, South Carolina’s supreme court said the bailiff’s comments were clearly improper AND bailiffs should be better trained.
Apparently no one listened to that last comment because, even the fact that it was made speaks AGAINST South Carolina’s court system.
And not only because a long-time bailiff did not know to not make such an improper comment; but also because South Carolina’s Supreme Court is totally failing its administrative duties EVEN THOUGH it arrogates to itself more administrative POWERS than other state courts of last resorts.
Whom did Justice Kittredge expect to train South Carolina’s bailiffs? The tooth fairy?
In his EXTREME hypocrisy, John Williamson Kittredge ups and drags someone for a five-hour hearing before South Carolina’s ENTIRE supreme court on stupid contempt-of-court charges. Kittredge claimed he has a God-given duty to keep South Carolina’s system orderly; and apparently he had no confidence in trial judges to do that but had to drag his colleagues on the supreme court to a five-hour hearing no one saw any reason for.
YET, when Kittredge himself finds a South Carolina court bailiff made an imporper comment to the jury and that all South Carolina court bailiffs should be better trained, Kittredge did not lift a finger to initiate or organize such training for South Carolina’s courts’ bailiffs.
Maybe if Kittredge had put some of the court’s time where its mouth is and AT THE TIME OF THE GREEN DECISION also organized training for bailiffs (and clerks of court) about what to NOT talk to jurors about, this whole Alex Murdaugh and Becky Hill fiasco would not have existed.
And ever-bluffing Eric Bland (“EBEB”) would not have needed to “defend” the jurors’ verdict because that verdict without tampering would have been NOT guilty.

SubZeroIQ January 29, 2024 at 7:16 pm

Now Sanctimonious Sandi Smith and Malicious Mandi Matney, and other Murdaugh haters and idiot cannibals, will come out in force gloating and celebrating.
It is not as if Jean Toal was really at loss where to look for law after she found AS FACTS that Becky Hill is a non-credible state actor who made prejudicial and improper comments to at least one juror.
All Jean Toal had to do was to look at all the jurisprudence of suppression of improperly seized evidence and the societal purpose behind “when the constable fumbles, the criminal walks,” meaning even true evidence needs to be suppressed to DETER violations of the Fourth Amendment by law enforcement.
Indeed, none other than Jean Toal’s “friend,” John Williamson Kittredge, said it to students whom South Carolina’s Supreme Court itself tries to “enlighten” on the law and on civics: there is truth and there is fairness. And sometimes fairness requires suppression of true evidence.
BTW, Kittredge is the author of Green and wrote that clerks of court should train bailiffs to not make comments like that made by the bailiff in Green.
Too bad Kittredge never asked himself, who trains the clerks of court to not make inappropriate comments themselves?
As I expected, Jean Toal started with the result she wanted to reach and manipulated the law to reach it.
Neither Remmer nor Green ever said the trial judge needs to look at the weight of the evidence supporting the conviction.
Further, it is circular thinking: if the evidence was weighed by an admittely tainted jury, then the fact that said tainted jury held the weight of the evidence sufficient to support a conviction prevents the court from vacating the product of that tainted jury’s decision.
It is another version of Holmes v. South Carolina where a unanimous U.S. Supreme Cout reversed Jean Toal’s own decision that if the Prosecution presents a strong enought case of the defendant’s guilt, then the defendant does not get to present evidence of third-party guilt.
I pray Jean Toal reconsiders.
Stay strong Alex Murdaugh! God will not forget you.

SubZeroIQ January 30, 2024 at 4:24 pm

People say a new murder trial for Alex Murdaugh (“AM”) would not have been a waste of money. And a second autopsy for Stephen Smith was not?
The real waste of money is the state’s bringing the murder case against AM in the first place.
AM is innocent OF THE MURDERS; the Prosecution knew it; that is why they asked Becky Hill to tamper with the jury to get a wrongful conviction and that is why they are now protecting Becky Hill no matter what wrongs she does.
Indeed, the judge’s own ruling is a sophistacated way of saying EXACTLY that: the system will forgive everything you do, however bad, so long as you help getting “the bad guy” framed.
After all, prosecutors have for decades, if not centuries, dropped or reduced charges against co-defendants who turn state’s evidence.
Sanctimonious Sandi Smith (“SSS”), Malicious Mandy Matney (“MMM”), and Becky Hill should be prosecuted for false police reports; but none will.
Wait and see.

SubZeroIQ February 2, 2024 at 2:13 pm

And few more things which, for me, clinch that ever-bluffing Eric Bland (“EBEB”) has now COMPLETE control of: (1) Alan Wilson; (2) Jean Toal; and (3) SLED.
I knew that EBEB had gained control over Jean Toal when EBEB’s “five” jurors poked their finger in Jean Toal’s eye by turning their cell phones to Court TV and watching Juror Z’s testimony, apparently in defiance of the sitting bailiff. Yet, Jean Toal (with all her fake iron-lady aura and her sycophant-promoted “intellectual giant” reputation) had NEITHER THE COURAGE NOR THE INTELLIGENCE to realize, or even question, whether those same jurors had also defied Judge Clifton Newman’s instructions to NOT get on the internet.
At least TWO male jurors DID get on the internet DURING Alex Murdaugh’s (“AM”) trial because, in later media interviews, they repeated WORD FOR WORD medically impossible stuff that was on the internet BEFORE THE VERDICT.
What does EBEB have on Jean Toal? Nexsun Pruitt, which is now Maynard Nexsun.
EBEB had made his name, reputation and career by suing Nexsun Pruitt and winning, then later DEFYING South Carolina’s Supreme Court Orders and keeping and releasing papers EBEB had mistakenly received from Nexsun Pruitt.
Why does Jean Toal care about Nexsun Pruitt: Victoria Eslinger and Juliana Michelle Childs.
And now it is country-big. Childs is Eslinger’s grateful apprentice. Eslinger’s case was the one on which Jean Toal made her name and career way back then.
Childs is one of the three women on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit who heard the case about whether Donald Trump has immunity from prosecution for 6 January 2021. That panel expedited briefing and oral arguments and heard them on 9 January 2024 when Judge Florence Pan proved she is the only brains on that panel.
Clearly Childs is delaying the opinion; and not because she loves Trump (though she might be a secret Trumpist) but because Biden would much rather run against Trump than against Haley.
Back to EBEB, his discovery from Nexsun Pruitt must have had stuff on Childs, Childs-Toal, and Eslinger-Toal.
That is why EBEB’s “jurors” could have come out and flipped Jean Toal the bird and she would still have done nothing to them.
Jean Toal may choose to let herself be humiliated by EBEB’s jurors; but she has no right to sacrifice the integrity of the judicial system to protect Eslinger, Childs, and Nexsun something.
By now, SLED knows or could have easily known that Stephen Smith’s death was a suicide by motor vehicle accident; but EBEB is terrorizing SLED into silence while EBEB goes on podcasts and sheds crocodile tears about SLED not moving fast enough.
One problem remains for EBEB: unless he repents, he will one day choke on his own greed, EXACTLY as happened to AM.
Wait and, God willing, you shall see.

Kidd Top fan February 9, 2024 at 2:25 pm

Wow I absolutely love reading your comments here. Always so informative and always full of sarcasms. Love them!

Michelle May 27, 2024 at 10:50 pm

SubZeroIQ, it’s time to start taking your psychiatric medications again. You know what happens when you go off them. Crazy!!


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