After Stephen Smith's Death, Rape Kit Was Administered, Officer Was Told It Seemed Like Homicide

Eric Bland, the attorney representing the Smith family, confirmed to PEOPLE that a rape kit was administered but was not tested

Another new detail has been released adding even more mystery to Stephen Smith's 2015 death.

Days after the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division confirmed the agency has believed since 2021 that Smith's death was a homicide, it also emerged that a rape kit was conducted on Smith shortly after he was found on a Hampton County road in what was initially declared a hit-and-run death.

Cpl. Michael Duncan, the former supervisor of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, told NewsNation's Ashleigh Banfield that a rape kit was conducted on Smith — representing the first time in Duncan's career that a rape kit was ordered in connection with a traffic incident.

"I did not have an understanding of why it was being ordered," Duncan told Banfield. "We were not notified until later that it had been ordered. So no, I have no answers for you as to why they would have ordered a rape kit for what would be suspected as a hit-and-run, which it wasn't, but I will never understand that."

Eric Bland, the attorney representing the Smith family, confirmed to PEOPLE that a rape kit was performed, but was not tested.

Stephen Smith facebook no credit
Stephen Smith. Facebook

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On Wednesday, authorities in South Carolina announced that Stephen Smith's 2015 death was believed to be a homicide as far back as 2021, according to a press release sent out Wednesday afternoon by SLED.

The release stated that on June 23, 2021, the agency opened an investigation into Smith's death after agents from SLED "received information about his death and subsequently reviewed" the case file from the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

"From SCHP case notes it was apparent that the SCHP did not believe Mr. Smith's death was a hit and run by a motor vehicle," the release says.

According to the SCHP's report on Smith's death investigation, which was obtained by PEOPLE, on July 8, 2015, Cpl. Duncan was told that Smith's death appeared to be a homicide and that "SLED was taking it over." However, Dr. Erin Presnell, the medical examiner, ruled Smith's death was the result of a hit-and-run.

The SCHP did not return PEOPLE's call for comment.

Smith was found dead on July 8, 2015. His body was located on a dark road three miles away from his vehicle. His death has now been reclassified as a homicide.

During the investigation after Smith's death, the Murdaugh name — a powerful local family known for their longstanding law firm — was mentioned dozens of times as possibly being connected to Smith's death, FITSnews reported. However, no member of the Murdaugh family was ever questioned in his death and no charges were ever filed.

Authorities have not accused the Murdaugh family of being connected to the death and Buster Murdaugh has never been charged in connection with Smith's death. On Monday, Buster vehemently denied that he had anything to do with Smith's untimely death.

Last week, the family of Stephen Smith announced on a GoFundMe page that they have raised enough money to exhume his body for an independent autopsy to determine Smith's cause of death.

Updated by
Corin Cesaric
Corin Cesaric
Corin Cesaric is an Associate Editor at PEOPLE. They have been working at PEOPLE for one year.
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