South Carolina authorities have zeroed in on two persons of interest in the mysterious murder of Murdaugh-linked teenager Stephen Smith — including one man who allegedly admitted to mowing the nursing student down, according to a bombshell report.
Police are investigating 25-year-olds Patrick Wilson and Shawn Connelly, both of whom were originally implicated in Smith’s July 2015 death case, Fitsnews revealed in a case file Thursday.
The duo were teenagers at the time and lived just a few miles from where the 19-year-old’s battered body was found on a road close to the 1,700-acre Moselle estate where Alex Murdaugh murdered his wife Maggie and son Paul six years later.
About five months after Smith’s body was found, Wilson’s stepfather — at the encouragement of Alex Murdaugh’s older brother — tipped investigators off to the boys’ involvement in the death.
Wilson allegedly told his stepfather that Connelly — who has a long history of traffic infractions and DUIs — was driving a vehicle that “struck and killed Stephen Smith.”
The stepfather “stated that the reason he was passing this information on was because Randy Murdaugh told him to call,” the MAIT report read according to FitsNews.
At the time of Wilson’s confession, he was facing attempted murder charges for an incident that was not immediately clear. Those charges were dropped shortly after by a solicitor who “served at the pleasure of the Murdaughs,” one Hampton historian told the outlet.
Within one year of Smith’s death, Randy Murdaugh filed two motor vehicle accident lawsuits against Connelly on behalf of clients, both of which were dismissed by Murdaugh-friendly judges.
Connelly’s criminal history ranges from DUIs and domestic violence to hunting without a license and unlawfully killing an antlerless deer, records obtained by the DailyMail show.
Despite the confession, neither man was intensely scoured by the original investigative team. Police, who initially said the death “appeared to be a homicide,” ultimately ruled Smith was a victim of a hit-and-run.
After nearly eight years, Smith’s death has officially been ruled a homicide.
Police have not publicly excluded the Murdaughs from their investigation, despite one law enforcement source telling FitsNews they have evidence the legal family is innocent of all ties.
“SLED has proof the Murdaughs were not there at the time Stephen Smith was killed,” a source told the outlet.
Police said last week they “quickly” put Buster Murdaugh on their radar as part of the reopened investigation following rumors that he killed Smith in order to hide a secret love affair between the two baseball teammates.
One classmate allegedly told Smith’s sibling he watched Buster kill Smith “with a baseball bat” because he was gay.
Smith’s mother, Sandy, also linked Buster to her son’s death in a letter sent to federal investigators where she accused local law enforcement of butchering her son’s death investigation.
Buster said he “unequivocally” denied “vicious rumors” that he was involved in the murder as he continues to grieve the loss of his mother and brother and deals with the imprisonment of his killer father.
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