republican debate

Buster Murdaugh denies involvement in Stephen Smith’s murder

  • Murdaugh calls reports “baseless rumors” tying him to Stephen Smith’s death
  • Police determined it hit-and-run but the investigation was reopened in 2021
  • Stephen Smith's family raised enough money for his exhumation and autopsy

(NewsNation) — Richard “Buster” Murdaugh, the surviving son of disgraced South Carolina attorney and convicted murderer Alex Murduagh, has denied what he calls “baseless rumors” regarding his involvement in the death of a teenager killed in his hometown.

Buster Murdaugh, 26, has not been connected with the July 2015 death of Stephen Smith, who was 19 when his body was found in the middle of rural road in Hampton County, South Carolina. Smith’s body was found a few miles from the Murdaugh family’s property, the New York Post reported. At the time, investigators said that it appeared Smith was hit by a vehicle while standing outside his vehicle that had run out of gas.

“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. 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.

Before, during and since my father’s trial, I have been targeted and harassed by the media and followers of this story.

This has gone on far too long.  

These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false.

I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family.

I am requesting that the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me.”


Questions about Smith’s death were reignited amid the weekslong trial for Alex Murdaugh, who was ultimately convicted in the killings of his wife and youngest son.

There has been no known evidence that links the Murdaugh family to Smith’s death; however, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced shortly after the deaths of Paul and Margaret that it was reopening the investigation due to information it had received during a separate investigation into the June 2021 shootings.

Buster Murdaugh was the same age as Stephen Smith and his twin sister. The two went to school together, and Buster’s name often came up in connection with the Stephen Smith case.

Reporter Will Folks with FITSNews previously told NewsNation that investigatory reports from Stephen Smith’s death mention the Murdaugh name “dozens of times.”

Now, the case is being reexamined in the wake of Alex Murdaugh’s trial.

Although police determined it was a hit-and-run, Smith’s mother, Sandy Smith, believes her son was killed intentionally. Smith’s family has raised enough money for an independent exhumation and autopsy.

According to Sandy Smith’s GoFundMe, an independent autopsy would be about $7,000. She said a private medical examiner would have to be present from the time the exhumation started and throughout the entire examination process. This, she said, would cost about $750 per hour.

Smith’s GoFundMe page said her family is grateful to the people who came together “to help us in our fight for justice for Stephen.”

NewsNation affiliate WCBD contributed to this report.

Stephen Smith Case

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending on NewsNation