The physique of a 19-year-old discovered lifeless in the midst of a South Carolina highway in 2015 will probably be exhumed, his household introduced final week, nearly two years after state authorities reopened a probe into his demise based mostly on data discovered whereas investigating the murders of Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh and Paul Murdaugh.

The household of Stephen Smith has raised about $60,000 to place in the direction of the exhumation and a non-public post-mortem in what his mom described on a GoFundMe web page as a “struggle for justice.”

“I couldn’t have imagined after we started this fundraiser that it might take off the way in which that it did,” Sandy Smith wrote. “Thanks for not permitting Stephen’s story to be swept below a rug. We are going to pursue the exhumation instantly and supply updates alongside the way in which.”

Authorities haven’t introduced a connection between Smith’s demise and the Murdaugh household, whose patriarch, Alex Murdaugh, was discovered responsible earlier this month of murdering his spouse and son at their rural property the night time of June 7, 2021. Murdaugh was sentenced to life in jail and has since appealed his conviction, in response to his legal professional.

About two weeks after Maggie and Paul have been killed, the South Carolina Legislation Enforcement Division, or SLED, introduced it was reopening the Smith investigation as a consequence of data gleaned from the Murdaugh case. SLED didn’t element what that data was.

“SLED has made progress within the demise investigation of Stephen Smith,” the company stated in a press release to CNN Sunday, “nonetheless this investigation stays lively and ongoing.”

A roadside wooden cross marks the spot where Stephen Smith's body was found on Sandy Run Road in rural Hampton County, South Carolina.

The physique of the 19-year-old nursing pupil was found on July 8, 2015. An incident report from the state freeway patrol indicated he suffered blunt power trauma to the top, and his demise was initially deemed successful and run.

Nonetheless, whereas a pathologist cited in a SLED report states Smith appeared to have been hit by a car, the responding officer referenced in a report by the state freeway patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Workforce famous “no car particles, skid marks, or accidents in keeping with somebody being struck by a car.”

Smith’s footwear have been additionally each on and loosely tied, the report added, and investigators noticed no proof suggesting he was struck by a car.

Smith’s household began the GoFundMe in an effort to hunt a “new, unbiased have a look at his physique and an correct willpower of his reason for demise based mostly on details,” reads the web page, which initially sought $15,000. The post-mortem would price about $7,000, it says, and a non-public health worker would additionally have to be current all through the method – at a price of about $750 per hour.

“It’s a enormous expense, however we hope that together with your help we will make this occur and eventually get the solutions we want,” the web page says, including, “We consider 2023 is Stephen’s yr.”

CNN has reached out to Smith’s household for remark.

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