Breaking: SLED Considers Stephen Smith’s Death a Homicide

Blog, Press Releases

Columbia, SC – Bland Richter Law Firm is proud to announce that after an extraordinary disclosure phone call with South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Chief Mark Keel, that the death of Stephen Smith is now considered a HOMICIDE, a shocking announcement after eight years of being proclaimed a highway vehicular manslaughter.

This announcement comes after a phone call between Bland Richter co-founder Eric Bland and SLED  Chief Mark Keel, who have both committed to combining efforts, sharing information and resources as the state moves forward with exhuming Stephen Smith’s body and its subsequent investigations.

“We have a chance to right eight years of wrongs, and we intend to do just that,” said Bland.

Stephen Smith was found dead on a South Carolina road in 2015, and questions were raised about his death during the investigation into the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh in 2021. State police reopened Smith’s case in June 2021 after discovering new evidence during the double murder investigation.

Smith’s mother, Sandy Smith, opened a GoFundMe page in March to raise money for an independent autopsy after state police first said that Stephen Smith had car trouble, was walking for help, and got hit by a car. Smith’s family believes he was murdered, and wants an unbiased look at his body and an accurate determination of his cause of death based on facts.  At the date of this release the Go Fund Me has raised over $80,000.  She retained Bland Richter this week to represent her.

Bland Richter law firm has a long history of successfully representing clients in high-profile cases, including multiple victims in the Alex Murdaugh saga, which has captured the nation.  SLED officials have also welcomed a partnership with Bland Richter in this investigation. They believe that working together will help to bring new leads and information to light and will ultimately lead to a resolution in this case.


“SLED officials have revealed that they did not need to exhume Stephen Smith’s body to convince them that his death was a homicide. However, they will be present and participate in any exhumation of Stephen’s body to gather more evidence. We are committed to finding out what really happened, and getting the peace and justice the Smith family deserves” said Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter in a joint statement.

SLED has also revealed on the phone call that they were waiting until the Murdaugh trial was over before making this announcement out of concern that witnesses would not be as forthcoming under the Murdaugh sphere of influence. Since the conclusion of the Murdaugh trial, more resources have been devoted and will be devoted to Stephen Smith’s case.

Richter states, “SLED is publicly supporting us, Sandy Smith, and her efforts to find out what really happened to her son. They have expressed their condolences to the Smith family and will continue to work diligently to bring those responsible for Stephen’s death to justice.  We are proud to be their partner in finding justice”.

Stephen Smith’s death has been covered extensively by Bland along with award-winning journalists Mandy Matney and Liz Farrell, who are co-hosts of the “Cup of Justice Podcast”, a spin-off of “The Murdaugh Murders Podcast” which has been a primary source of information for the public about the crimes associated with the Murdaugh family and the Stephen Smith case.

The investigation into the death of Stephen Smith is ongoing, and SLED officials are urging anyone with information about the case to come forward. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact SLED’s tip line at 1-800-CALL-SLED.

With tips around the Stephen Smith case please contact:

Renée Wunderlich
Director of Public Information
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED)
[email protected]

For media inquiries please contact:

Whitney McDuff
Public Relations Director, Bland Richter
[email protected]