Buster Murdaugh Sues Netflix and Others for Defamation for Portrayal in Series on Murders

Alex Murdaugh's surviving son has consistently denied any involvement in the 2015 death of classmate Stephen Smith

Joshua Boucher/The State via AP Buster Murdaugh
Joshua Boucher/The State via AP Buster Murdaugh

Alex Murdaugh’s surviving son Buster Murdaugh is suing Netflix, Warner Bros., and others for defamation, claiming he was falsely implicated in the suspicious death of his former classmate Stephen Smith in 2015.

On Friday, Buster, 30, filed the lawsuit in Hampton County, S.C., claiming that media outlets including Blackfin, Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery, Warner Media Entertainment Pages “falsely accused him” of being involved in Smith’s death, according to the complaint, which was reviewed by PEOPLE.

Also named in the suit are Campfire Studios, The Cinemart, Gannett, which publishes the local newspaper, The Hampton County Guardian, and the paper’s editor, Michael DeWitt Jr.

The complaint alleges that Buster’s reputation was “irreparably damaged, and he has suffered mental anguish” from statements made in documentaries and series by these outlets.

The complaint is seeking actual damages, punitive damages and the costs of the lawsuit.

Smith, 19, was found dead at 4 a.m. on July 8, 2015, on a desolate road in Hampton County near the Murdaughs' estate.

He was found three miles away from where his car had run out of gas, with deep cuts on his forehead, several local news outlets reported.

Related: Buster Murdaugh Slams 'Vicious Rumors' Connecting Him to Stephen Smith's Death, Teen's Family Speaks Out

Officials said he was killed in a hit and run accident, which Smith's family has long disputed.

No arrests were ever made in the case.

Buster and Smith were high school classmates.

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In March 2023, Buster's father, once-prominent Lowcountry attorney Alex Murdaugh, was convicted of killing his wife and son and sentenced to life in prison.

Related: Alex Murdaugh Found Guilty of Murdering His Wife and Son

In 2021, after the murders of Maggie and Paul, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division reopened the case based on information investigators learned from the Murdaugh murder case.

Smith's family and SLED have never implicated the Murdaugh family in Smith's death.

Investigators did not say what that information was, WCSC reports.

In 2023, Smith's family announced in a GoFundMe that they raised enough money to exhume his body for an independent autopsy.

Shortly after, Buster issued a statement in which he vehemently denied he had anything to do with 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, 27, said in a statement released through his attorney, Jim Griffin.

"I love them so much and miss them terribly," the statement said.

"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," the statement said. "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," the statement concluded.

The parties named in the suit were not immediately available for comment.

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