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The body of a teenager found dead near the Murdaugh estate in 2015 will be exhumed

The family of a teenager who was found dead eight years ago on a road near the hunting estate of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh says they're going to exhume his body for an independent autopsy.

Stephen Smith's death was initially ruled an unsolved hit-and-run, but his mother has rejected that suggestion and says she hopes the new autopsy will help answer questions about what really happened to her son.

"Our family is so very grateful to all of you who came together to help us in our fight for justice for Stephen," Sandy Smith wrote on a GoFundMe page that had raised more than $60,000 to pay for the exhumation.

"Thank you for not allowing Stephen's story to be swept under a rug," she added. "This is Stephen's year."

Earlier this month, Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of the 2021 shooting deaths of his wife and son, Maggie and Paul, and sentenced to two consecutive life terms in state prison. Murdaugh admitted to lying to police during the investigation but maintains he did not kill the pair.

During the investigation into the killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh two years ago, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division announced that it was also opening its own inquiry into Smith's death, the Augusta Chronicle reported.

A spokesperson said at the time that the agency would look into Smith's death "based upon information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh."

Smith's family has long dismissed the idea that he was killed in a hit-and-run, suggesting that his injuries weren't consistent with a hit-and-run and that there was no debris along the rural road where his body was found, about 15 miles from the Murdaugh estate.

Sandy Smith has said her son, who was openly gay, was killed after his car ran out of gas.

Both Smith and Murdaugh's oldest son, Buster, graduated from the same Hampton County high school in 2014, NBC reported.

Though he's been convicted of the two murders, Murdaugh still faces a slew of other criminal charges related to alleged financial crimes, some of which the former lawyer admitted to on the stand during his trial.

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