CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD/WSAV) – Buster Murdaugh released a statement Monday morning regarding the death of Stephen Smith and what he called “baseless rumors” regarding his involvement in the case.

“I have tried my best to ignore the vicious rumors about my involvement in Stephen Smith’s tragic death that continue to be published in the media as I grieve over the brutal murders of my mother and brother. I love them so much and miss them terribly,” Murdaugh said in his statement.

He continued, “I haven’t spoken up until now because I want to live in private while I cope with their deaths and my father’s incarceration.

Before, during and since my father’s trial, I have been targeted and harassed by the media and followers of this story. This has gone on far too long.  These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false. I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family. I am requesting that the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me.”

Smith, 19, was found dead with a head injury along Sandy Run Road in Hampton County in July 2015. At the time, investigators said that it appeared Smith was hit by a vehicle while standing outside his vehicle that had run out of gas.

Questions about Smith’s death were reignited amid the weeks-long trial for Alex Murdaugh who was ultimately convicted in the killings of his wife and youngest son.

Smith’s mother, Sandy, recently launched a GoFundMe aimed at raising funds that would go towards exhuming her son’s body and an independent autopsy as the family looks for answers into her son’s death.

There has been no known evidence that links the Murdaugh family to Smith’s death; however, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced shortly after the deaths of Paul and Margaret that it was reopening the investigation due to information it had received during a separate investigation into the June 2021 shootings.

The GoFundMe has raised more than $65,000 – surpassing its original $15,000 goal – that will be used for the independent autopsy and other elements in an independent investigation.