Buster Murdaugh Denies Involvement in Stephen Smith's Death as Smith Family Pursues Independent Investigation

Buster Murdaugh appeared at his dad Alex Murdaugh's trial every day.
Buster Murdaugh appeared at his dad Alex Murdaugh's trial every day.Getty

Stephen Smith was found dead in the middle of a roadway with severe head trauma in 2015. "I know my son was beaten to death," his mom Sandy tells Inside Edition.

Buster Murdaugh, son of Maggie and Alex Murdaugh and brother of Paul, has denied any involvement in Stephen Smith’s 2015’s death, and is pleading for the public to stop linking him to the tragedy.

"These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false," Buster said in a statement Monday released through his lawyers. "I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family."

Buster is believed to have attended the same South Carolina high school as Smith, who was openly gay.

“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,” Buster said in his statement, according to The State. “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."

This comes as Smith’s mom has officially retained a law firm to represent her in an independent investigation into Smith’s death.

“This is not about Buster Murdaugh. This is about Stephen Smith, this is about his mother getting answers she definitely needs answers to,” Ronnie Richter, founder of and partner at the law firm retained by Smith's mother, said during a Monday press conference when asked about Buster’s statement. “There’s no reason to discuss Buster Murdaugh and there’s no comment to refer back to Buster Murdaugh.”

Smith was 19 when he was found lying in the middle of the roadway with severe head trauma in the early morning hours of July 8, 2015. A man driving on the road that evening called police just before 5 a.m. to report a person lying in the roadside, according to police reports.

The driver reportedly told police he first thought Smith was an animal, but took a second glance and noticed "a white male lying in the middle of the road."

At first, when police arrived, they suspected his death was a result of a hit-and-run. Detectives speculated a truck had side-swiped him with its mirror as Smith walked along the dark road, according to incident reports.

But Smith's family refuses to believe it was an accident. He often had car troubles, but they had trouble imagining him walking in the middle of the road, his family told Inside Edition Digital in a 2021 interview.

“He would have walked through the woods, or there was a cornfield,” his mom Sandy Smith said at a Monday press conference hosted by the law firm. “He would have made sure he was not seen by anyone.”

She added that Smith would have at least called his twin sister to let her know where he was.

Smith's body was found nearly three miles from where his car was left and case notes said that "the gas tank door was open and the gas cap was hanging on the side of the vehicle."

“Hit-and-run? We don’t think so,” the law firm said in a press release.

Through a GoFundMe campaign, Smith’s family has raised more than $70,000 to exhume his body and conduct an independent autopsy.

Smith’s family believes his death was a hate crime.

"I know my son was beaten to death. And I know that somebody knows who did it and why they did it," Sandy tells Inside Edition. "And I just pray that they will find it in their heart to come forward."

No member of the Murdaugh family was ever questioned about Stephen Smith’s death and no charges were ever filed.

Related Stories