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Stephen Smith death in South Carolina being investigated as homicide

Smith was found dead along a rural South Carolina road in 2015.

SUMTER, S.C. — The death of a Stephen Smith, a South Carolina man found dead along a rural Lowcountry road nearly eight years ago, is now being investigated a homicide.

A spokesperson for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division confirmed the agency added that classification to the probe. 

Smith, 19, was found dead on Sandy Run Road in rural Hampton County, South Carolina on July, 8 2015.  He was discovered lying in the middle of the road a few miles from where his car ran out of gas.   

Hampton County authorities had ruled his death a hit-and-run. At that point, the Highway Patrol was brought in to investigate. 

But in 2021, SLED announced they were opening an investigation into his Smith's death. 

According to SLED, a state trooper's case notes made it apparent the highway patrol did not believe Smith's death was a hit and run by a motor vehicle. An incident report by the Highway Patrol said there were no skid marks, vehicle debris, or injuries consistent with someone being struck by a vehicle. They even noted that his shoes were loosely tied but still on. 

Prior to this latest announcement, state agents had been silent since 2021 on the Stephen Smith death, including what information led to them to open the case. 

Back on Monday of this week, attorneys for Stephen Smith's mother had said they intended to file a petition to get his body exhumed. She has long felt that his death was not a result of a hit and run. Among the details she and her attorneys pointed to were that his wallet was still in the vehicle and that there were quicker ways to return home that didn’t involve walking along a country road – shortcuts that Smith knew and would have used. 

“We have a chance to right eight years of wrongs, and we intend to do just that,” said Smith family attorney Eric Bland in a statement after learning of the SLED investigation. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact SLED at 803-737-9000 and ask for investigative services. Tips can also be submitted by email to tips@sled.sc.gov.

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