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Buster Murdaugh breaks silence on ‘vicious rumors’ about Stephen Smith’s ‘tragic death’

Buster Murdaugh

Buster Murdaugh, the son of Alex Murdaugh, listens to his father testify during his trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, S.C., on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023. The 54-year-old attorney is standing trial on two counts of murder in the shootings of his wife and son at their Colleton County, S.C., home and hunting lodge on June 7, 2021. (Joshua Boucher/The State via AP, Pool)

The eldest and surviving son of convicted double murderer Alex Murdaugh has released a statement categorically denying involvement in the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, after a Netflix series and news of forthcoming independent autopsy brought renewed attention to the teen’s case.

“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,” Buster Murdaugh said Monday, ahead of a scheduled presser held by Smith’s family and attorneys. “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.”

More Law&Crime coverage: Attorneys for Alex Murdaugh financial crimes victims now representing family of Stephen Smith as teen’s body set for exhumation

Buster Murdaugh reiterated recent claims that he has been “harassed” by media members since his father was found guilty of murdering his brother Paul Murdaugh, 22, and mom Maggie Murdaugh, 52.

“This has gone on far too long,” the scion of the Murdaugh legal dynasty said, rejecting “baseless rumors of [his] involvement with Stephen and his death” as “false.”

Sandy Smith (L) embraces her son Stephen Smith (R) in a photograph

Stephen Smith, pictured on the right, died under suspicious circumstances in July 2015.

Buster Murdaugh offered condolences to the Smiths and “unequivocally” denied involvement in Stephen’s death — calling any such rumor “defamatory.”

“I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family,” he said. “I am requesting that the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me.”

The statement from Buster Murdaugh comes soon after the news that Stephen Smith’s body would be exhumed for an independent autopsy. Smith’s family has long believed that his death was not the result of a hit-and-run.

“The family of Stephen N. Smith is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received from Standing for Stephen and the community as a whole. You have been monumental in shining light on Stephen’s story and the lack of justice,” Stephen’s mother Sandy Smith wrote March 9 on GoFundMe. “We feel it’s critical to seek a new goal — an independent exhumation and autopsy — and we’re launching Justice for Stephen N. Smith with that immediate goal in mind. While the state can elect and fund an exhumation and new autopsy, it is our understanding that it would be carried out at MUSC, where his death was initially classified as hit-and-run despite no evidence to support it.”

In an update a week later, the still-grieving mother thanked those who contributed funds for the independent autopsy.

“Our family is so very grateful to all of you who came together to help us in our fight for justice for Stephen. I could not have imagined when we began this fundraiser that it would take off the way that it did. Thank you for not allowing Stephen’s story to be swept under a rug. We will pursue the exhumation immediately and provide updates along the way. Thank you for the kind words, prayers and donations,” Sandy Smith sad. “You have made this possible, and it means the world to us. This is Stephen’s year.”

Smith, an openly gay classmate of Buster Murdaugh’s, was a Hampton County, South Carolina resident and studied nursing. The Murdaugh name reportedly came up repeatedly during the investigation into Stephen Smith’s death, but there has been no formal allegation against the family or Buster individually in connection with the case.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.