(NewsNation) — South Carolina authorities reinvestigating the death of a teenager found dead in the middle of a road in 2015 no longer believe he was killed in a hit-and-run accident, according to the attorney representing the family of Stephen Smith.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for,” said Smith’s mother Sandy, who has been fighting for more answers since her son’s death.
Officials initially determined it was most likely that Smith was the victim of a hit-and-run in July 2015, a theory his family doubted from the start. Police said he was walking along the road after running out of gas, but investigators found no skid marks or car debris, and Smith’s loosely-tied shoes were still on his feet, attorneys have said.
Stephen’s mother, Sandy Smith, has been fighting for more answers ever since.
In an exclusive prime-time interview Tuesday on NewsNation’s “CUOMO,” Sandy Smith said she was elated by the news.
“I’m still in shock,” she said.
The investigation into Smith’s death was reopened nearly two years ago after the June 7, 2021, killing of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, the wife and son of Alex Murdaugh who convicted of the murders.
Though there is no known evidence linking any Murdaugh family members to Smith’s death, Richard “Buster” Murdaugh, Alex’s surviving son, issued a statement Monday denying rumors he was involved. Buster and Stephen were classmates at the time of the death.
“This has gone on far too long. These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false,” he said in part. “I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family.”
Eric Bland, an attorney representing the Smith family, said the chief of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division delivered the new death conclusion in a phone call with him Tuesday.
“Chief (Mark) Keel said that he will join us in our exhumation of Stephen Smith, that we will cooperate together in a de facto partnership,” Bland said. “It’s a golden day for this mother that her son was not killed on a highway as they indicated in the certificate of death.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.