On Thursday, March 2, after Alex Murdaugh was declared guilty of a double homicide, netizens called for a homicide investigation against Buster Murdaugh, the surviving scion of the once-reputed family.
According to Greenville News, Buster Murdaugh had emerged as a suspect in the 2015 murder of Stephen Smith, a teenager who was found dead from blunt force trauma in Hampton County, South Carolina.
While the murder was initially labeled a hit-and-run by police officers, The Augusta Chronicle noted that residents of Hampton County had claimed that Buster Murdaugh had been romantically involved with Smith and that he had murdered the teen to hide the supposedly taboo relationship.
In October 2021, South Carolina authorities announced that the investigation into the murder of Stephen Smith had been reopened. No indictments have been announced as of March 2023.
Stephen Smith's mother thinks her son's murder is linked to his identity
According to Radar Online, at the time of his death, Stephen Smith was an openly gay man known as an affable, good-humored 19-year-old around Hampton County.
As per Bluffton Today, he was considered a promising student, having graduated with straight-A's from Wade Hampton High School in 2014, approximately a year before his body was found. At the time of his death, he was pursuing a nursing career at Orangeburg-Calhoun Tech, where he was taking night classes.
In an interview with the Guardian, Stephen Smith's mother, Sandy, said that she believed her son's death was directly linked to his identity as a gay man.
While she did not name Buster Murdaugh or any other suspects, she claimed that she suspected a boy her son had a relationship with.
"One of the guys that supposedly did this, Stephen told his twin sister that he had ‘a fling’ with the boy. He also told me that he and the boy had a deep sea fishing trip planned for July. Stephen died on the eighth of July … It doesn’t matter what his sexual preferences were, he was still my son."
She claimed that several suspects, most likely from reputed families around the area, were involved. She said:
“I guarantee you that Stephen was not in that road. They took him from his car; everybody knew his car because he had the ugliest little ‘banana’ [car] in town. These boys were coming from a baseball game and I think that they were right behind him, so when he had to pull over, they were right there … The worst part is that some of the individuals responsible were Stephen’s classmates.”
According to Opoyi, Buster Murdaugh has not commented on the case nor his alleged relationship with Stephen Smith. Authorities have not officially named him as a suspect in the case.