Stephen Smith’s mother still mourns. Link to Murdaugh case renews focus on his death

·2 min read

Imagine suddenly losing your child.

Then imagine not knowing why or how.

That’s the enduring pain Sandy Smith has experienced since the morning of July 8, 2015 when her 19-year-old son Stephen Smith was found dead on Sandy Run Road near Crocketville.

The death of the young man she described as gentle, intelligent, funny, the life of the party devastated Sandy Smith.

Police said his body was found between 3 and 4 a.m. that morning. He had a large wound on the right side of his head, above his eyebrow, according to police documents.

But investigators couldn’t agree on how he died.

Our reporters learned that the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office and the county coroner thought it was a homicide, but a medical examiner ultimately wrote in a report that Smith was hit in the head by a car mirror.

The truth has been elusive.

No one has ever been charged in connection with Stephen Smith’s death and his mother has felt alone in her belief that her son was murdered.

The case went cold and Sandy Smith was left wondering why her son, with so much life ahead of him, was dead.

Then just days ago, two S.C. Law Enforcement Division agents came to Sandy Smith’s home to tell her that information found while investigating the June 7 murders of Paul Murdaugh and his mother, Maggie, had led them to open an investigation into her son’s death.

A month after the Murdaugh killings that case also remains the subject of much speculation and concern as the community grapples with what at this time remains an unsolved crime.

The news comes after a recent television interview with former S.C. Highway Patrol trooper Todd Proctor, who said he believed Stephen Smith’s 2015 death was likely a murder staged to look like a hit-and-run.

These seeming breaks in the case have given Sandy Smith some renewed hope, but they also leave one to wonder why the delay.

Why did it take six years for her son’s death to receive renewed attention? Why couldn’t investigators even privately give Sandy Smith some sense that her son’s case remained a priority?

We don’t know what happened to the 19-year-old young man who his mother said wouldn’t hurt a fly, but we do know investigators have a responsibility to be as upfront as they can with victims and their families.

Don’t leave them feeling isolated and alone. Don’t compound their grief and despair.