Stephen Smith’s mother, who died tragically in South Carolina on a country street six years ago in a mysterious manner in connection with the June murder of Alex Murdaugh’s wife and young son, is speaking in a new camera-vision interview this week.
An interview comes between a new organization that seeks justice for a young gay man whose family has not yet been able to give him a real high stone.
“It’s the hardest thing you’re going to have to do in your life. When people talk about depression. It’s real,” Sandy Smith told FOX Carolina standing at Gooding Cemetery in Hampton County.
Rumors and speculation surrounding Stephen Smith’s death on July 8, 2015, when the 19-year-old body were found on Sandy Run Road in Hampton County with smoke in his head 4 times before his car was found on the side of the road were just a few miles away.
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“The call was the hardest,” Sandy Smith said. “As they were saying, I couldn’t listen anymore. Then it panicked. And then the tears didn’t stop. That’s what made it so strange that he would come out like that because he had a class the next morning. Something wasn’t right.”
Authorities began speculating that he had been shot, but a few days later, a medical examiner ruled that he had been killed in a hit-and-run, claiming that head injuries had the potential to hit the glass on the side of a car or truck. The Coroner also stated that no bullet had been found in the X-ray.
His mother has always believed it was a crime of hatred and her son was killed for being gay.
“I think it was because he was gay,” she said. I said from the beginning it was a crime of hatred. ”
It was not until June 23 that the South Carolina State Enforcing Division (SLED) opened an investigation into Smith’s death “based on information gathered during a double investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.” The agency did not issue a merger.
“It made me feel like they thought Stephen was not human,” Sandy Smith said of the delay in the investigation. “And that we didn’t care. But I wasn’t giving up and someone was listening. I was relying on God to do something to make it happen. I just had to wait for His time.”
Smith, a graduate of 2014 at Wade Hampton High School, was studying with Alex Murdaugh’s eldest son, Buster. The Smith family once told police that the younger brother of Alex Murdaugh, a lover of the PMPED law firm, founded by their grandfather, had arrived after Smith’s death and offered free family representation – but they refused, the New York Times stated.
“Sometimes there are secrets that mothers don’t know about,” Sandy Smith said. “Stephen’s justice is what I’ve been looking for – for six years.”
Susanne Andrews, founder of the new charity organization “Standing at Stephen Smith,” told FOX Carolina that she felt compelled to act after being offended by Facebook a few weeks ago showing Stephen’s grave with a small sculpture and a plastic sign with his name and dates of births and deaths.
“I felt led to do something to help remember Stephen,” he said. “It all started with just a picture of a graveyard and I have a 16-year-old, about 17 years old, and as a mother it just broke my heart.”
“It’s surreal to be here,” he said in a camera interview at the cemetery. “He and his family deserve more than they were given and a better chance than they had.”
Andrews’ father is the owner of Capital Courtland, the longest running gay bar in the southeast and the largest in Columbia, South Carolina. He promised court members to conduct a fundraiser and a silent auction on October 30 to help raise money for Stephen Smith’s appropriate stone. The money will also help pay for the headstone to the father of the young victims, Joel Fred Smith, buried next to him. Sandy Smith said her husband died just three months after Stephen left what he believes is a “broken heart.”
“This is about looking at Stephen, nothing else,” Andrews said. “She’s a strong woman.”
Alex Murdaugh phoned 911 to say he was coming home to find his wife, Maggie, and his 22-year-old son, Paul, shot dead at the family’s stadium in Colleton County on June 7. No one has been named as a suspect. Meanwhile, Alex Murdaugh was charged with suicide, allegedly hiring a hitman to shoot him in the head so that his remaining son could take out life insurance.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Curtis Eddie Smith denied knowing about the plan before it happened.
A helpful man and former salesman, Smith said Murdaugh called on the morning of September 4 and told him to bring his car to H Hampton County, never discussing the cause but suspecting it was a word yard. Murdaugh, who is Smith’s distant relative, recently beat him up to follow him, Smith told the Times in an interview at his home outside Walterboro, South Carolina.
The two parked on the side of the road outside the city and Murdaugh came out, pulled out a gun and told Smith, “I want you to shoot me in the back of the head,” as Smith said. He replied, “It is not possible.” But when Murdaugh finally walked over to shoot himself in the head, Smith grabbed his hand and stabbed him in the back of the head before the gun suddenly went off.
Murdaugh fell to the ground with his hand on his head, and Smith, left with a shotgun, asked if he was right before returning to his truck to insult the lawyer and flee the scene.
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“I don’t know if betrayal is a word that means that,” Smith said. “I thought of him as a brother, you know, and I loved him as a brother. And I would have done anything for him. Almost.”
Ten days would pass until Alex Murdaugh told state police that he had paid Smith, whom he had planned as his former client and long-time drug dealer, to kill him. Murdaugh pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and was released later that day, with the judge’s permission to return to a non-GPS rehabilitation center for treatment suspected of opioid addiction.
Stephen Smith and Curtis Smith have no relationship, the Stephen Smith family has said.