S2E38: Stephen Smith Case Discussion
If you've listened to this podcast and followed the Murdaugh saga, then you likely know the names Tommy Moore and Sandy Smith. ABC News 4 and the Unsolved South Carolina team were privileged to have them accept a joint invitation for an interview last week, and we're sharing highlights of that interview here.
READ: Attorney: SLED investigating Stephen Smith's death as a homicide
FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Death of Stephen Smith, Part 1 | The Death of Stephen Smith, Part 2
Sandy is the mother of Stephen Smith, a 19-year-old young man found dead in the middle of a dark country road in Hampton County in July 2015. Stephen was in college studying nursing when he died. He also happened to be an openly gay man in the conservative, rural South. How Stephen died remains a mystery. Sandy has long suspected he may have been the victim of a hate crime, while the Hampton rumor mill churned with the name "Murdaugh" for years.
Meanwhile Tommy Moore is one of the dozens of people to have fallen victim to notorious attorney-turned-thief and convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh. We were the first to share Moore's story with the public in January 2022 after an avalanche of fraud and money laundering charges came pouring down on Murdaugh. The connection between Moore and Sandy Smith and the Murdaughs comes full circle in a bizarre way. Moore recently divulged he helped lead Highway Patrol's investigation into Stephen's 2015 death.
READ: Sandy Smith & Tommy Moore agree Stephen Smith didn't die in a hit-and-run
Moore and his Highway Patrol colleagues insisted Stephen's death was not related to an automobile hit-and-run based on evidence available at the time; rather, they felt it appeared Smith's body had been dumped in the roadway after being killed elsewhere. However, other law enforcement agencies, death investigators and medical officials seemed disinterested in pursuing a homicide probe into Stephen's death.
The case went cold, but Sandy's fight to bring justice and closure for her son never waned. Then, the case gained national attention as part of the broader Murdaugh criminal saga in the summer of 2021. But how are the Murdaugh's connected? Initially, several witnesses interviewed by Highway Patrol back in 2015 and 2016 told Troopers someone in the Murdaugh family was connected to Stephen and may have knowledge of his death. But attempts to track down those rumors led nowhere. It's an allegation never proven, and one which Buster Murdaugh vehemently denies.
READ: New details in 2015 Stephen Smith death investigation
Little else was heard about Stephen's case until the summer of 2021 when SLED announced out of the blue it was opening a new investigation into Stephen's death based on evidence and information gathered while concurrently investigating the June 2021 murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh. And as of March 21, 2023, SLED confirms to the Smith family's lawyers that they're officially considering Stephen's case a homicide investigation. That's welcome news to both Sandy Smith and Tommy Moore.
Listen along as reporters Anne Emerson and Tara Jabour join former S.C. Attorney General Charlie Condon and retired S.C. Highway Patrol Lt. "Trooper Bob" Beres to share highlights of the interview with Sandy and Tommy, and offer insight into the story.
READ: Independent autopsy to be performed on Stephen Smith