Police Ordered Rape Kit After Finding Stephen Smith Dead Near Murdaughs’ Property in 2015

A rape kit was reportedly ordered hours after a man was found dead near the Murdaughs’ property in 2015.

Former South Carolina Highway Patrol supervisor Michael Duncan told NewsNationNow on Wednesday that they were never given an opportunity to show their findings in the case of Stephen Smith, 19, who was found dead on a road in Hampton County. Despite working on the case, Duncan claimed he did not respond to the scene because troopers were told to stay away.

Initially, a medical examiner deemed Smith died from being hit by a car. Duncan told NewsNationNow that he could not explain why a rape kit was ordered in a suspected hit-and-run case.

Duncan commented, “I’ve never seen wounds like this that come from a car … In totality, it did not make sense why they were calling it a traffic accident.”

On Tuesday, attorneys representing Smith’s mother said that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has since deemed Smith’s death a homicide. On Wednesday, the agency issued a statement in which they clarified the timeline of the investigation into Smith’s death.

In the press release, SLED said an autopsy was performed the same day Smith’s body was discovered, and a medical examiner determined he was fatally struck by a car.

“SLED was not requested by the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office or the South Carolina Highway Patrol to investigate Mr. Smith’s death in 2015,” the agency said.

According to the agency, it reexplored Smith’s case after agents “received information” and reviewed the highway patrol’s investigative file. However, it is unclear what information they got, where or who it came from, and why it led to them reviewing the case.

“From SCHP case notes it was apparent that the SCHP did not believe Mr. Smith’s death was a hit and run by a motor vehicle,” SLED said in Wednesday’s statement.

“SLED’s investigation into the death of Mr. Smith was never closed – it remains a homicide investigation. Progress has been made, and SLED’s investigation is active and ongoing.”

Smith attended high school with Buster Murdaugh, who recently denied having a role in Smith’s death.

“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,” Buster said in a statement issued to NBC.

Smith’s family said that they were seeking an independent autopsy in light of the investigation into Paul and Maggie Murdaugh’s 2021 murders. The slayings — which were carried out by Alex Murdaugh — occurred nearly two weeks before SLED revisited Smith’s case. At the time, SLED said information it uncovered while investigating the Murdaughs’ murders prompted them to look again at the case.

Last week, Smith’s family reached their goal on GoFundMe to have the teen’s body exhumed and reexamined.

For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Listen to the latest episode:

Join Nancy Grace for her new online video series designed to help you protect what you love most — your children.

[Featured image: Stephen Smith/Facebook]