What happened to Stephen Smith? Spinoff investigations heat up in wake of Murdaugh family murders

ByEva Pilgrim ABCNews logo
Thursday, March 16, 2023
Stephen Smith's family pushes for new autopsy in wake of Alex Murdaugh guilty verdict
New details as spin-off investigations heat up as disgraced legal scion Alex Mudaugh sits in prison, including the mysterious death of Stephen Smith.

The murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh have sparked new developments in spinoff investigations.

Now, the family of Stephen Smith is pushing for a new autopsy after Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of murdering his wife and son.

"It's not going to bring Stephen back but I will have a piece of mind to know whoever did this is going to pay," Stephen's mother, Sandy Smith, said in a 2021 interview.

During the double murder investigation of Maggie and Paul in 2021, state agents said they found new evidence on another mysterious death, leading police to reopen the case in June 2021 as they look at how the 19-year-old was killed.

RELATED: Murdaugh murders: How Paul Murdaugh helped solve his own murder

Authorities said he was the victim of a hit and run, however, his family always believed something else happened.

"They said he was shot in the head, then it turns out it was a hit and run, and then he was beat up. So, the story just kept changing over and over," Sandy said.

Smith's family is now raising money to exhume his body in hopes of doing an independent autopsy to find out how he died.

State investigators said they have "made progress" in the death investigation, however, adding that the investigation remains active and ongoing. They also have not named any suspects.

Meanwhile, Russell Laffitte, the banker already convicted as an accomplice to Murdaugh's financial crimes, is now asking for a new trial after Alex took the stand in the double murder case and admitted to financial crime after financial crime.

RELATED: What's next for Alex Murdaugh? About 100 fraud charges and a coming appeal

"You keep talking about what I did with Russell Laffitte. But what I want to let you know is that I did this and I'm the one that took people's money that I shouldn't have taken and that Russell was not involved in helping me," Murdaugh said on the stand.

Laffitte's attorneys said Murdaugh's testimony vindicates him.

"I can tell you that Russell Lafitte never conspired with me to do anything. Whatever was done was done by me," Murdaugh added.

"Alex Murdaugh's confession, and essentially saying, listen -- this was something I did, and I did alone -- is essentially new information. New information, new evidence that speaks to motivation that speaks to ability to commit a crime is grounds for a retrial," said Channa Lloyd, managing partner at Cochran Firm.

ALSO SEE: These are the names to know in the murder trial against Alex Murdaugh