COLUMBIA, S.C. — Buster Murdaugh on Monday publicly denied being involved in the death of a teenager hours before Stephen Smith’s mother and her attorneys held a news conference.
Buster Murdaugh, the sole surviving son of convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh, issued a statement through his attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin refuting any rumors that he was involved in Smith’s July 2015 death.
“This has gone on far too long,” Buster Murdaugh said in the statement. “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.”
In 2015, Smith’s body was found in the middle of a rural road in Hampton County. Smith was a classmate of Buster Murdaugh.
Smith’s death was ruled a hit and run, but his family has called for the body to be exhumed and for a new autopsy to be performed.
Sandy Smith, Stephen’s mother, started a online fundraiser to pay for the process. As of Monday, more than $65,000 had been raised, far exceeding the goal of $15,000.
“Thank you for not allowing Stephen’s story to be swept under a rug,” Smith said on the fundraiser. “We will pursue the exhumation immediately and provide updates along the way.”
On Monday, Smith, along with attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter of Bland Richter law firm, held a news conference about the death of Stephen. Information about what was discussed at the media event was not available.
While investigating the deaths of Buster’s mother and younger brother, Maggie and Paul, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced it uncovered new information about Stephen’s death.
SLED hasn’t said what that information was, and investigators have never officially linked anyone in the Murdaugh family with Smith’s death. SLED has never charged Buster Murdaugh with a crime related to Stephen Smith’s death, nor have they said he’s the target of an investigation.
“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 Murdaugh said in his statement. “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. I am requesting that the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me.”
Alex Murdaugh was found guilty earlier this month of murdering his wife and son. He will serve two consecutive life sentences.
His attorneys plan to appeal.