Buster Murdaugh Just Released A Statement About Stephen Smith's Death
The Netflix true crime docuseries, Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal, follows the events that led up to the murders of a mother and son from an elite, wealthy family in South Carolina, the Murdaughs.
Margaret "Maggie" Murdaugh and her 22-year-old son Paul were both killed in June 2021. Alex Murdaugh, the victims' husband and father, was just found guilty of their murders and sentenced to life in prison.
The family, which has a long history in South Carolina as powerful prosecutors, has been connected to several scandals, including a fatal boating accident where Paul was allegedly driving drunk. The three-part Netflix doc, which dropped in February 2023, explores all these incidents and more.
Alex Murdaugh's only living son, Richard Alex “Buster” Murdaugh Jr., 26, has been leading a relatively quiet life amid his family's scandal, so you probably still have questions about him. Here's everything to know about the eldest Murdaugh son, from his attempt to go to law school, to his net worth.
His name has been connected to a classmate's death.
In 2015, Stephen Smith, Buster's high school classmate, was found dead on the side of the road about 15 miles from one of the Murdaugh family's properties in South Carolina, TODAY reported. The incident was initially deemed a hit-and-run, but the case has since been reopened as a homicide investigation, per CNN.
The reports from the initial accident showed “no vehicle debris, skid marks, or injuries consistent with someone being struck by a vehicle," according to CNN.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol investigation's case file on Smith’s death, also obtained by CNN, mentions the Murdaugh name "dozens of times by both witnesses and investigators, including the name of Alex Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster." No charges were ever brought forward in the case, and the authorities never named any suspects, CBS reported. Buster has denied any connection.
Smith's family is in favor of the new investigation, and is petitioning to have his body exhumed. They even started a GoFundMe that has raised of $88,000 to provide "a new, unbiased look at his body and an accurate determination of his cause of death based on facts."
Buster just released a statement denying involvement in Smith's death.
"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," Buster said. "I love them so much and miss them terribly."
The statement continued: "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."
Buster filed a police report against the media.
In the week following Alex Murdaugh's conviction, Buster Murdaugh filed a police report. On March 4, 2023, The New York Post included a photo of Buster inside his home in Hilton Head, South Carolina, in one of its stories.
This led to Buster making a police report with local authorities, according to WYFF 4. Buster's report included a description of a "suspicious grey Dodge challenger outside the residence," which he saw in footage from his doorbell camera.
Later, Buster Murdaugh's girlfriend, Brooklynn White, also called into the sheriff's office to report that the couple was being followed by "the media" in a grey Chevy SUV. A deputy in the area reportedly pulled the vehicle over for speeding and "improper lane change" and issued a warning, according to the report via WYFF 4.
Buster was present for his father's sentencing.
Buster was present in the courtroom when Alex Murdaugh was given double life sentences for the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.
Buster's reaction in court was minimal for both his father's guilty verdict and sentencing. After the jury distributed their guilty verdict, Alex Murdaugh reportedly mouthed "it's okay" to his 26-year-old son, per The Independent.
Morgan Frances, an anchor for Windy City News, obtained a video of Buster leaving the courthouse after his father's sentencing, looking stoic, which she posted on Twitter.
Buster Murdaugh leaves the courthouse after his dad gets sentenced to life in prison. pic.twitter.com/bQjIHSteWb
— 𝕄𝕠𝕣𝕘𝕒𝕟 𝔽𝕣𝕒𝕟𝕔𝕖𝕤 (@MorganFrancesTV) March 3, 2023
Buster has been present throughout the entirety of his father's trial, per BBC News. He was reportedly very emotional during his father's testimony in court last week, per Law & Crime
He went to Wofford College.
Buster graduated from Wofford in 2018, according to his Instagram. A newsletter for students majoring in government and international affairs said that he was planning to work with a South Carolina law firm before heading back to law school.
Buster Murdaugh was kicked out of law school.
In following with family tradition, Buster had been pursuing his law degree at the University of South Carolina. However, he was kicked out of law school over a plagiarism incident, according to the Wall Street Journal. A local outlet, The Post and Courier, then reported that "the family had paid a well-connected Columbia lawyer, Butch Bowers, some $60,000 to help secure Buster’s readmittance."
However, Buster still hasn't gone back to school. “He has put his desire to go to law school on hold for now,” the Murdaugh's lawyer told The Post and Courier. “There is no plan for him to start school in the fall or in the spring.”
It’s unclear what Buster currently does for a living, but he worked at his father’s law firm prior to Alex's arrest, according to PEOPLE.
He withdrew after his mother and brother's deaths.
A former Wofford classmate told PEOPLE that Buster was "not doing well at all," adding, "he really withdrew after everything happened."
"Before, he'd text immediately. His phone was surgically implanted in his hand or something, like you'd send a text 24/7 and he'd respond, and he loved to chat. Now he doesn't respond to most texts, or if he does, it's one or two words. He has really closed off and built walls around himself," the friend added.
At the time, Buster hadn't told friends what he thought of his dad's guilt or innocence.
Buster lives with his girlfriend.
Buster reportedly refused to go back and live at the hunting lodge where his brother and mother were killed, per PEOPLE.
He reportedly resides in a condo with his girlfriend, Brooklynn White, on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Brooklynn works as an attorney at Olivetti, McCray and Withrow Law Firm, according to their website. Brooklynn purchased the condo in 2021, a month after the Murdaugh murders, according to Fox News.
Buster testified in defense of his father.
On February 21, 2023, Buster appeared in court as the defense’s first witness. Translation: He spoke in support of his father. He told the court that the Murdaugh family had “a lot of guns” and his brother, Paul, left guns around the property more than anyone else, according to the New York Post.
Buster also claimed that his father was “destroyed” the night of the murders. “He was heartbroken,” Buster testified in court, according to PEOPLE. According to PEOPLE, Alex called Buster to tell him the news.
"He said, 'Are you sitting down?'" Buster testified. "He sounded odd, and then he told me that my mom and my brother had been shot."
At that point, Buster and his girlfriend got in the car to drive the 200 miles to the family's home in South Carolina, per PEOPLE.
Buster helped his family reached a settlement in Mallory Beach's death.
Since Paul Murdaugh's involvement in a fatal boat crash that killed Mallory Beach in 2019, the Beach family has been in negotiations with the Murdaugh family. They recently reached a settlement for a "significant amount" of money, which removed Buster and Maggie's names from the case, per the Daily Mail.
At the time of the crash, Paul Murdaugh, who was then 19, was reportedly drunk while operating the boat. He was later charged for his role in Mallory's death and was out on bail when he died. Paul allegedly purchased alcohol on the day of the collision with Buster Murdaugh's ID and his mother's credit card. After the settlement, only Alex Murdaugh's name will appear on the Mallory Beach lawsuit, per Fox News.
"The Beach family feels very strongly that whatever their faults were, Paul and Maggie didn’t deserve what happened to them. They also feel Buster has suffered enough, so it was important to them to try and get him out of the case," the Beach family attorney, Mark Brandon Tinsley, reportedly told Fox News.
Buster was reportedly close to another person who mysteriously died.
In 2015, Stephen Smith, a 19-year-old college student, mysteriously died on the side of the road about 10 miles from the Murdaugh’s house. He was found with deep gashes to his head on a Hampton County road, according to PEOPLE.
Buster and Smith were former classmates. Some locals interviewed in the docuseries allege that the Murdaughs might have been involved with his hit-and-run death, per the Wall Street Journal.
Stephen Smith's mother, Sandy Smith, also recently told the New York Post that she "didn't understand" the Murdaugh family's interest in the case from the beginning. She said that shortly after the crime happened, and before it was confirmed that it was Stephen who had been killed, Randy Murdaugh even called her husband to offer help in looking into the case. She also reported that when she visited the crime scene, the Murdaugh family was already there.
“I don’t know if they did it or not. I don’t care. I just want to know who and I want to know why,” she said to the New York Post.
Smith's death is still under investigation, and the Murdaugh family has not been officially linked, per The New York Times.
What is Buster Murdaugh's net worth?
It's unclear what the Murdaugh family assets look like right now, or what Buster's net worth could total.
The condo Buster and Brooklynn live in, which she purchased in 2021, is reportedly worth about $180,000, according to Fox News.
Alex Murdaugh sold the family estate, Moselle, to Maggie for $5 in 2016. Now, lawyers who are now in charge of Alex's assets are trying to void the sale, claiming it was fraudulent, according to ABC News. The property is worth a few million dollars, but any sale has been blocked because of the scuffle over its ownership. If the property is sold, Buster will reportedly receive $530,000, according to Fox News.
For more details on Buster Murdaugh and his family, you can stream Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal on Netflix now.
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