Family of the 19-year old whose case was reopened after Murdaugh murders attends event in his honor
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The complicated web surrounding the mysterious deaths of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh has led to the reexamination of investigations that were long rumored to be connected to the once-prominent South Carolina family.
While the investigation into the Murdaugh murders is ongoing, others are trying to use the national spotlight to create change.
On Saturday, a fundraiser was held in honor of Stephen Smith, 19, whose 2015 hit-and-run death was investigated as a murder. The Murdaugh name came up multiple times is now being looked into again because of evidence found while officials were investigating Paul and Maggie’s death, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Law enforcement hasn’t released any new information or explained why the Murdaugh murders lead to Stephen’s case being reopened 6 years later.
Regardless, the fundraiser was about one thing and one thing only- Stephen’s legacy, and all the other LGBTQ youth who died at a young age.
“Stephen would’ve loved that he was getting his... what would you say? His big moment,” said Stephanie Smith, Stephen’s twin sister.
That moment came about because a curious stranger saw a gravesite with no headstone on a Facebook post.
Stephen’s father is buried to the left of him as well as a 2-month old baby boy that Stephen’s mother, Sandy, lost in 1992.
None of them have headstones.
Four weeks after meeting Sandy Smith and seeing those gravesites, Sussanne Andrews was hosting an event for Stephen’s mother, standing by her side and protecting her from being distracted by the cameras and media attention.
“When I say this woman needs some love and support and lifting up from this community...that’s what she needs times 10,” said Sussanne Andrews, organizer of #StandWithStephen said. “And that’s what we are going to give her.”
During the event, personal stories were shared, dancing and a silent auction worked to fundraise for legal and funeral expenses for Stephen.
His family knows this won’t bring him back, but it may be able to create a ripple of change, that all started with Stephen.
“It shows a lot of people do care,” said Stephanie. “Stephen would say God made you who you are and he didn’t make no mistakes.”
While the event was happening, Andrews announced to the crowd that the GoFundMe for Stephen reached its goal of $10,000.
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