Family of man killed in presumed 2015 hit-and-run unveiled his headstone

Published: Jul. 17, 2022 at 6:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2022 at 12:35 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Sunday was an emotional day in Hampton County as the family of a man killed in a presumed 2015 hit-and-run unveiled his headstone.

The family of Stephen Smith gathered 7 years after the week of his burial. Smith’s body was found along Sandy Run Road in July of 2015.

That case went cold but is now gaining new attention since the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division reopened the case last summer.

The Smith family’s lawyer says investigators discovered new information after the deaths of former Lowcountry attorney Alex Murdaugh’s wife and son.

Those close with the family say Sunday’s unveiling brought them a sense of togetherness. As one woman’s fundraising efforts aimed to give Stephen what she calls a proper memorial for his final resting place.

But the family is still looking for answers as the questions around Stephen’s death remain.

“She will never have closure. No parent will ever have closure after losing their child,” Susanne Andrews, Founder, Standing for Stephen said.

While those close with Stephen Smith’s family say the pain of his death will never go away, they say Sunday’s headstone unveiling brought them a moment of support especially for Stephen’s mom Sandy.

“It’s a sense of love and support for Miss Sandy and Stephanie, Stephens twin that you can’t put a price tag on. There are no strong enough word to describe how fulfilled my heart is to see this,” Andrews said.

Susanne Andrews said she was motivated to to help Smith’s family after seeing a Facebook post of his burial site.

“It pretty much tore my heart out of my chest to know in six years since Stephen had passed and he did not have a proper memorial for his final resting place.”

Which lead her to start Standing for Stephen, a fundraising campaign to raise money to buy a new headstone for his grave.

“There’s no words that I can express that led me to do this it’s just something I knew I had to do having an almost an 18-year-old son I just couldn’t imagine if that was my child.”

And the Smith family lawyer is remembering Stephen, who was openly gay, as an aspiring doctor but expressed anger over his killing.

“Imagine what kind of doctor he would’ve been to gay kids. But he’s not, because someone decided to bash his head in,” Mike Hemlepp, Smith Family Attorney said.

And says Smith’s death has been buried behind headlines of the Murdaugh family.

“We’re here to remind everyone that there’s another unsolved murder in Hampton deserving of attention as well. There’s another murder with every mystery. Who? What? Why? How? Stephen’s family is deserving of answers and we intend to find them,” Hemlepp said.

As the family comes together to remember a man who many say brought so much light to this community.

And the family is pleading with the public urging anyone with information about Stephen Smith’s death to contact SLED.

You can view a timeline of the Stephen Smith case below: