The Murdaugh family will soon be offering a $100,000 reward for information that will lead to an arrest and conviction in Paul and Maggie’s murders, a Columbia lawyer told The State Media Co. and The Island Packet on Thursday.
A local towing company owner also confirmed with The Island Packet that it towed a Chevrolet Suburban from the Murdaugh property to the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office the morning after the killings.
These are the latest developments as the June 7 double homicide investigation of Paul Murdaugh and his mother Maggie outside their home in Colleton County approaches its third week.
Other criminal cases have returned to the spotlight because of the Murdaugh killings. An obvious case, the 2019 fatal boat crash in which Paul Murdaugh was indicted, and one less conspicuous: the 2015 death of a Hampton County teen that went cold years ago.
What happened in 2015?
Was it a hit and run or a homicide? Investigators seemed to be at odds over the determination, according to the 2015 police file, released recently.
For the past six years, people have speculated that the Murdaugh family was tied to Smith’s death. Although law enforcement has made no public statement connecting the two, the family’s name appears in the investigative files multiple times.
MURDAUGH FAMILY ORGANIZING $100,000 REWARD
Thursday, 2 p.m. Alex Murdaugh, Paul’s father and Maggie’s husband, is organizing a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the double homicide, Columbia lawyer Jim Griffin confirmed.
A firm date for when the reward would be offered was not yet solidified, but Griffin said it’s expected “soon.”
He said the reason for the delay has mostly been logistics, such as Crimestoppers capping its reward money at $10,000. Also, SLED does not typically handle rewards for tips, especially of this size.
- Lana Ferguson, John Monk
VEHICLE TOWED FROM MURDAUGH CRIME SCENE
Thursday, 1:29 p.m.: The owner of a towing company in Walterboro confirms a black Chevrolet Suburban was towed from the Murdaughs’ property to the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office the morning after Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were found shot to death.
The car was parked near the dog kennels when the tow truck driver arrived, the owner said. The driver had to wear rubber gloves and was told by officers at the scene not to touch the vehicle.
However, it’s still unclear who owned the vehicle, why it was towed and how it’s connected to the Murdaugh double homicide.
- Lana Ferguson, Kacen Bayless
STEPHEN SMITH’S FAMILY’S ON-CAMERA INTERVIEW
Wednesday evening: Two of Stephen Smith’s family members give their first on-camera interview.
Smith’s twin sister, Stephanie, told ABC News 4 that the six years since he died “feels like yesterday. Every day I have to relive it.”
Smith’s case is now being handled by SLED’s Midlands Regional Office rather than the Lowcountry Region, the TV station reported, saying it was something his mother, Sandy Smith “had wanted for years.”
The investigation is “not going to bring Stephen back,” she said. “But I will have a peace of mind to know whoever did this is going to pay.”
Sandy Smith also told the TV station that she didn’t know her son was friends with members of the Murdaugh family until after he died.
- Lana Ferguson
NATIONAL NEWS WATCHING MURDAUGH, BEACH, SMITH CASES
Wednesday evening: The New York Times joins the Washington Post — which called our region the “Lowlands” instead of the Lowcountry and will never live that down — in reporting on the Murdaugh double homicide case. Other national outlets paying attention to the case: The New York Post, Daily Mail, and a litany of TV outlets including Good Morning America and FOX News.
National news outlets are quoting the usual state and local officials, but sometimes the results are a little more colorful.
“This isn’t a TV show,” SLED spokesperson Tommy Crosby told the New York Times in its Wednesday story. “Things aren’t solved in 51 minutes minus commercials. They do take time.”
- Lana Ferguson
ARGUMENT ABOUT HOW STEPHEN SMITH DIED
Wednesday, 7:03 p.m.: In the days after Stephen Smith was found dead on a Hampton County road, an autopsy was performed to determine the cause and manner of his death.
The death was originally thought to be a hit-and-run. But the S.C. Highway Patrol’s investigative notes from 2015 show authorities argued over whether Smith was the victim of homicide.
When an investigator asked the medical examiner why she wrote that Smith died from being struck in the head by a car mirror, she responded, “because he was found in the road,” the notes say.
“She had no evidence other than that for the statement being put in the report,” the investigator wrote.
There was no evidence of a bullet in Smith’s body, but there also was no glass or debris from a car, a different report said.
- Lana Ferguson, Kacen Bayless, Jake Shore
MENTIONS OF MURDAUGH IN POLICE REPORT
Wednesday, 6:37 p.m.: The Murdaugh family name appears nine times in the 2015 investigative report of Stephen Smith’s death.
Buster Murdaugh (Paul’s older brother) and Randy Murdaugh (Paul and Buster’s uncle) are specifically mentioned for different reasons, while the last name is brought up in an interview with a Varnville man who, an anonymous tipster said, may have played a role in Smith’s death.
The Murdaugh family was among several names mentioned in the investigators’ report, but no other name has gained as much attention.
No official statement has connected the family to Stephen Smith’s death. A SLED spokesperson acknowledged the 2015 investigation was being reopened after information received during the probe of the Murdaugh double homicide. But the spokesperson declined to specify what that information was.
- Lana Ferguson, Kacen Bayless, Jake Shore
Follow our previous coverage here.