Jailed South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh, 54, has been charged with killing his wife and son last summer at the family’s hunting lodge
Grand jury in Colleton County indicted Murdaugh on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime
Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and her son Paul, 22, were found dead near outdoor dog kennels on the family’s Moselle, South Carolina property on June 7, 2021
Disgraced legal scion’s shirt allegedly, was found with ‘high velocity blood spatter’ on night of murders on the night his wife and youngest son were shot dead ‘execution style’
Murdaugh who called 911 to report his wife and youngest son’s deaths, initially told police he returned home at 10pm to find their lifeless bodies
His later shifting accounts placed him squarely on the scene within the timeframe of the killings
Jailed South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh, 54, has been charged with killing his wife and son last summer at the family’s hunting lodge.
One year after South Carolina socialite and homemaker Maggie, 52, and her youngest son Paul, 22, were found dead in their Moselle, South Carolina family home in a horrific crime that heralded a long, scandalous saga for the prominent legal family, culminating in patriarch Alex Murdaugh being charged with the execution-style death of his spouse and child.
The grand jury in Colleton County indicted Murdaugh on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, state law enforcement officials announced on Thursday.
The torrent of associated crimes, currently bedeviling the once proud and wealthy South Carolina family begins the vicious murder of mother and son.
The chief mourner and one-time scion of a legal dynasty Alex Murdaugh, and now disbarred by the Bar association is accused of double-homicide, each a capital offense in the state of South Carolina that could see him face the death penalty if found guilty.
Thirteen months ago, Murdaugh told police he ‘found’ the bodies of his youngest son and wife by these kennels when he returned to the family’s 1,700-acre hunting estate of Moselle around 10pm.
Alex Murdaugh had called 911 that night from the family’s estate in Islandton, about 65 miles west of Charleston, saying he had returned home to find his wife and son dead near his dog kennel.
An audio of the 911 call that he placed at 10:07pm that night, he can be heard telling the dispatcher in a high-pitched screech: ‘I need the police and an ambulance immediately. My wife and child were just shot badly.’
Responding officers arrived at the Murdaugh family property in Moselle, South Carolina to find Maggie dead, shot several times with an assault rifle. Paul shot twice with a shotgun, was struck once in the head and once in the chest.
The bereaved husband and father told police at the time that he found their lifeless bodies when he returned to the family home around 10pm, to meet the grisly crime scene at his family’s sprawling hunting lodge.
Maggie and Paul’s gunshot wounds were believed to be consistent with ‘execution-style’ killings.
Paul’s body was found partially inside one of the kennels, while his mother’s was several feet away, leading investigators to believe that she ran from her killer before being gunned down.
At least two of her gunshot wounds were believed to have been inflicted while she was on the ground.
In the immediate aftermath of the horrific discoveries, Murdaugh’s family and attorneys were robust in their defense of the man and his marriage. His lawyer Dick Harpootlian said his client had a ‘ironclad alibi’. He also said that Alex and Maggie’s marriage was ‘full of love.’
However, in the intervening months several indices of a troubled marriage and household have surfaced, casting doubt on both claims, with evidence and witness testimony that were heard by a grand jury Today.
Still, on Thursday Murdaugh’s lawyers said in a statement that Mr. Murdaugh was innocent of the crimes and loved his wife and son “more than anything in the world.”
“Alex wants his family, friends and everyone to know that he did not have anything to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul,” the lawyers said, contending that police had prematurely narrowed in on Murdaugh, who had no motive to kill his family.
Since that initial claim that he was nowhere near the property between 9 and 9:30pm – The approximate time of death given by the coroner’s report – Murdaugh’s ‘alibi’ has changed significantly
In the immediate aftermath of the crime, Murdaugh told investigators that he was visiting his dying father and his mother about 11 miles away at their home in Varnville at the time of the murders.
Two weeks later, his brothers John Marvin and Randy Murdaugh told Good Morning America that he had in fact dropped his father at a hospital in Savannah before going to visit his mother, who has dementia.
Now, according to an account given by Murdaugh’s lawyer Jim Griffin to The State newspaper, Murdaugh claims to have left the property around 9pm to make the 20-minute drive to his mother’s house and returned to Moselle as originally claimed around or shortly after 10pm.
It is an account that places him squarely on the scene within the timeframe of the killings.
It has been speculated that audio and video data gleaned from Paul’s cellphone found by his body, but only recently unlocked by law enforcement, is what prompted Murdaugh’s dramatic change of tune.
Independent local news website FITSNews has reported that not only does this audio and video data show Murdaugh speaking with Maggie, but that ‘high velocity impact spatter’ of blood found on his clothing that night places him at the scene of the murders when at least one of the victims was killed.
The Murdaugh family’s sprawling South Carolina property, where his wife and son were killed, was listed for sale in March. The massive Colleton County property is known as Cross Swamp Farm and houses two buildings, two waterfowl reservoirs, and has over 2.5 miles of river frontage that can be used for kayaking and fishing, was recently sold for $3.9million, according to the probate records.
The 1,700-acre hunting estate, which was in Maggie’s name at the time of her death.
Meanwhile, the marriage described by Harpootlian as ‘full of love’ was, according to multiple sources, anything but. Those close to the couple reveal that Maggie and Alex Murdaugh’s marriage was a union in crisis.
Rumors that Murdaugh was having an affair with a fellow attorney have been widely circulated both locally and online, probably a major reason why there was ‘no love lost’ between the once loving couple.
It has come to light that in the months before her violent death, Maggie and Murdaugh had argued heatedly over finances.
Maggie, a fixture of the South Carolina charity scene, had been socially embarrassed when a check written by her at a charity luncheon bounced, – one of many incidents that had the socialite asking questions about the family’s finances and demanding answers.
Maggie reportedly, was living separately from Murdaugh at the family’s home in Edisto Beach and that she had only gone to Moselle on the night of her death ‘reluctantly’ and on Murdaugh’s request.
Maggie was also reported to have had gone to see a divorce lawyer in the weeks before her murder, sparking speculation that she was threatening to call in a forensic accountant, according to People magazine.
The killings immediately put scrutiny on the Murdaugh family and the deaths of several people associated with them, as well as the sway the family held in the region.
Alex Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather had each served as the top prosecutor in a vast region at the southern end of the state known as the South Carolina Lowcountry.
At the time, Murdaugh was under extreme pressure to cough up his financial records as part of a wrongful death suit being brought against him and his older son, Richard ‘Buster’ Murdaugh, Jr, by the family of Mallory Beach, the teenager killed in an horrific boat crash in 2019.
Paul was drunk and at the wheel of the boat when it slammed into pilings on Archers Creek with six teens, all underage, all drinking heavily, aboard.
Beach, 19, was thrown from the vessel and her body found by two fishermen one week later, five miles from the site. Her cause of death was blunt force trauma and drowning.
Legal documents reveal that lawyers for Beach’s family had repeatedly pressed Murdaugh for financial disclosure and set a court deadline of June 9, two days after Maggie and Paul’s murders, for him to hand over all relevant paperwork.
Back then, only Murdaugh knew that he was neck-deep in debts and, what prosecutors allege, was a multi-million-dollar insurance fraud scheme and criminal enterprise.
In the months following, investigators looking into Maggie and Paul’s deaths uncovered a litany of crime and insurance fraud that have seen them reopen two suspicious deaths linked to the family – former housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, 56, who fell after a ‘trip and fall’ at Moselle in 2018 and local teen, Stephen Smith, 19.
Satterfield’s sons said they were defrauded out of a $4.3million wrongful death suit brought against Murdaugh on his own advice and with the promise that they would be taken care of.
Instead, Murdaugh syphoned off the funds for himself, allegedly with the help of Corey Fleming, a former USC roommate and fellow attorney whom he recommended the Satterfield brothers use.
Fleming has also been charged for his part in the scheme.
SLED recently announced that it has received permission from Satterfield’s family to have her body exhumed.
Hampton County Coroner, Angie Topper, asked investigators to look at Satterfield’s death again due to ‘inconsistencies.’
These included the fact that her office was never informed, meaning no autopsy was conducted, and that the manner of death given on the death certificate – ‘natural’ – was not consistent with a trip and fall.
Similarly, the manner of Smith’s death is once again the subject of investigation. The 19-year-old’s body was found on a road in Hampton County in July 2015 with a head wound so devastating that investigators first thought he had been shot.
That incident was in fact initially investigated as a homicide but recategorized as a hit and run in the face of strong opposition from the lead investigator who was one of the first officers on the scene and found no evidence of any vehicular involvement
In addition to this, 15 state grand jury indictments containing 79 charges have come down against Murdaugh with prosecutors claiming he defrauded a staggering $8.4million from victims.
The truly dire state of his financial affairs may go some way to explaining one of the most bizarre twists in this entire saga – Murdaugh’s failed ‘suicide-for-hire’ plot just three months after Maggie and Paul’s deaths, and one day after he resigned from the family’s Hampton-based law firm.
The firm, formerly known as Parker, Murdaugh, Parker, Elztroth & Detrick, or PMPED, stripped the Murdaugh name from their masthead in January and has since rebranded as the Parker Law Group.
The firm later claimed that Murdaugh misappropriated company funds and at least one of Murdaugh’s former colleagues is among the many bringing suits against him.
Then on September 4 last year, Murdaugh made his second frantic 911 call, this time to report that he had been shot while attempting to change a tire by the side of the road not far from Moselle.
From the start the story seemed odd, his injuries unconvincing and his description of the man so vague and contradictory that SLED chose not to release the artist’s impression that Murdaugh helped generate.
Within two weeks, the whole affair had unraveled with Murdaugh claiming that he had hired a friend and distant relative Curtis ‘Eddie’ Smith, 61, to shoot him in the head so that his surviving son, Buster, could receive a $10million pay out form his life insurance.
He claimed that he had been in the throes of opioid addiction and had been for more than two decades and checked himself into rehab in Florida.
He was charged with insurance fraud and false reporting while Smith was charged on several counts including conspiracy.
He too has since been slapped with other charges relating to his relationship to Murdaugh, financial wrongdoing and drug trafficking.
Murdaugh is currently being held in Alvin S Glenn detention center in Richland County on a $7million bond.