Murdaugh Murders: It all started with a panicked 911 call. South Carolina legal dynasty On June 7, 2021, at about 10 p.m., Alex Murdaugh contacted authorities to say that he had returned home to his family’s huge Colleton County hunting property to discover his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, dead. They’d been shot to death.
Table Of Content: The Alex Murdaugh Murders Story
“I need the cops and an ambulance right now,” Alex replied. “My wife and kid were just horribly shot.”
The ensuing inquiry into Maggie and Paul’s deaths led to numerous more investigations, creating a narrative that has gripped the country.
Alex was arrested in September 2021 after allegedly conspiring with another person “to help him in committing suicide for the specific purpose of enabling a beneficiary to receive life insurance,” according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
He was detained again the following month on suspicion of surreptitiously diverting monies from a wrongful death settlement destined for his long-time maid Gloria Satterfield’s family.
His lawyers told Oxygen.com that his “life has been wrecked” and that the distinguished attorney has been suffering from covert drug addiction for two decades.
Alex was facing a slew of criminal accusations stemming from the alleged suicide plan and misappropriation of settlement cash from various customers of his legal company. Then, on July 14, 2022, officials revealed a shocking revelation: Alex Murdaugh was also charged with the deaths of his wife and children.
Alex Murdaugh Murder Trial Explained
According to NBC News, he is facing more than 90 criminal counts and 11 lawsuits.
He pled not guilty to the deaths of his Maggie and Paul in July 2022 and was ordered jailed without bail until his trial.
The “Murdaugh Murders”
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh’s double killing drew national attention to the Murdaugh family.
Alex contacted 911 at 10:07 p.m. on June 7, 2021, to report that he had come home to Islandton, a tiny hamlet about 65 miles from Charleston, and found the death of his wife and kid “out at my kennel,” according to SLED and The New York Times.
“I’ve gone up to it now, it’s awful,” he informed the dispatcher, adding that neither of them was breathing and pleading with the ambulance to hurry fast.
Authorities’ indictments corroborated prior accounts that Paul was shot numerous times with a shotgun and Maggie was slain with an AR-15-style assault weapon.
In the murders of his wife and son, a grand jury indicted Alex on two charges of murder and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent felony in July 2022.
He pled not guilty, saying that he wasn’t even on the property at the time of the murders since he was visiting his elderly mother, who lived around 15-20 minutes away.
“Alex wants his family, friends, and everyone to know that he had nothing to do with Maggie and Paul’s deaths,” Alex’s lawyers, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, said in a joint statement to Oxygen.com. “He loved them more than anything else on the planet.”
Prosecutors presented evidence at trial, derived from a social media video broadcast by Paul soon before the killings, suggesting that Alex According to two people familiar with the case, officials have cell phone footage that places Alex at the site just before the shooting, contradicting a sequence of events previously supplied for the day of the killings.
His defense team accused prosecutors of suppressing evidence in October 2022 and said that the authorities had not explored other possible possibilities.
The murder trial is scheduled to start in January 2023.
Who Were Maggie and Paul Murdaugh?
Maggie, a former Kappa Delta Sorority member, and a University of South Carolina graduate, was remembered by her friends as a joyful, optimistic, and dedicated mother who enjoyed spending summers at the family’s beach cottage in Edisto.
“She was a terrific friend who will be missed,” said friend Debbie Bishop-Phillips to Bluffton Today.
Maggie and Alex have two boys together, Buster and Paul, after meeting in college. The 52-year-old liked to entertain and had a “heart of pure giving,” according to her obituary.
“She treasured her family and loved spending time on the boat with her two kids,” the statement stated. “She will be remembered as a second mom’ to her boys’ numerous friends. She made the most of every circumstance and enjoyed life to the fullest every day.”
Alex Murdaugh Murder Timeline
Although there was some suspicion that the couple’s marriage was in jeopardy, an Alex spokesman told Oxygen.com in September that the couple had “a very loving relationship.”
Paul was a junior at the University of South Carolina, but the 22-year-old was dealing with his own legal issues at the time of his death.
Fatal Boat Crash That Killed Mallory Beach
Paul Murdaugh was charged with three felony charges of boating under the influence two years before he was shot to death after his boat slammed into Archers Creek Bridge about 2:20 a.m. on Feb. 24, 2019, killing Mallory Beach, 19, and badly wounding two others on board that morning.
According to local station WCBD, Paul, his girlfriend, Morgan Doughty, Connor Cook, Miley Altman, Anthony Cook, and Beach, all gathered at Paul’s house at about 6:30 p.m. the night before taking the boat to an oyster roast.
According to CBS News, investigators in the criminal case against Paul alleged that there was a cooler of beer aboard the boat and that everyone on the boat had been drinking.
Altman subsequently told police that after they were back on the boat, Paul insisted on going to a pub in Beaufort and ordering two rounds of shots.
According to Altman’s deposition in connection with a wrongful death case filed by Mallory’s mother, Renee Beach, Paul seemed inebriated, and “everyone” attempted to stop him from driving the boat after leaving the pub.
“I shouted at him once, and he just ordered me, like, sit, shut the eff up, and sit the **** down,” Altman said. “No one else is steering my boat.”
According to Anthony Cook’s evidence, Paul started to remove his clothing, stripping all the way down to his boxers despite the freezing 40-degree temperature.
According to WSAV, Doughty said in her deposition that Beach was “scared” and asked them to abandon the boat or allow someone else drives it, but only seconds later someone “slammed” the throttle and the boat smashed into the bridge, knocking Beach overboard.
Eight days later, her corpse was discovered approximately five miles from the accident scene.
While the buddies were unsure who had pressed the throttle, Anthony Cook said in his deposition that he suspected Paul. “I mean, he was behind the wheel when everything occurred,” Cook said.
According to David Lucas, a representative for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Paul’s blood alcohol concentration was not taken at the scene of the incident.
At about 4 a.m., Paul’s blood was obtained at the hospital. According to hospital documents acquired by the SCDNR, the BAC was.286%, which is more than three times the state’s legal limit of.08%.
While Paul pled not guilty to the criminal accusations brought against him, he was shot to death before a trial could commence. Mallory’s mother’s wrongful death suit is scheduled for trial in January 2023.
The Death Of Stephen Smith
SLED revealed shortly after the corpses of Maggie and Paul were found that it had launched an inquiry into the 2015 death of 19-year-old nursing student Stephen Smith.
According to SLED spokesman Tommy Crosby, the case was opened “based on information acquired over the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.”
According to police, Smith was discovered dead in the middle of Sandy Run Road on July 8, 2015, around 10 miles from the Murdaughs’ farm.
Investigators discovered the teen’s automobile miles away with the gas cap open.
The coroner classified his death a murder at first, but when detectives were unable to discover any evidence at the site, a local pathologist said he was most likely killed in a hit-and-run.
According to The New York Times, no member of the Murdaugh family has been charged with any crime in connection with Smith’s murder.
SLED director of public relations Renee Wunderlich verified to Oxygen.com that the inquiry is still open and continuing as of November 2022.
Alex Murdaugh’s Own Brush With Death
On September 4, 2021, months after Alex hurriedly called 911 to tell his wife and kid had been shot to death, he dialed 911 again, this time stating he had been the one shot.
“I had a flat tire and I stopped, and when I turned my back, they attempted to shoot me,” he told the emergency operator, according to a tape obtained by Oxygen.com, adding that he had been wounded “somewhere on my head.”
Alex was evacuated to the hospital and treated for what officials characterized as a slight wound, but detectives swiftly questioned his narrative and turned their focus to Alex himself.
SLED has accused Alex of plotting his own suicide and soliciting the assistance of his distant relative Curtis Edward Smith, 61.
Authorities say that Alex “conspired with” Smith by giving him a pistol and instructing Smith to shoot him in the head while he stood along Old Salkehatchie Road “for the purpose of scamming an insurance,” according to charges obtained by Oxygen.com.
Authorities suspect Alex staged his death so that his surviving son, Buster, could cash in on a $10 million life insurance policy.
“On September 13, 2021, Mr. Murdaugh provided a statement to SLED admitting to the scheme of having Mr. Smith murdered in order for his son to collect a life insurance policy valued at approximately ten million dollars,” SLED senior special agent Jeff Croft wrote in an affidavit filed in connection with Smith’s criminal case.
In a statement received by Oxygen.com, Alex’s lawyers, Jim Griffin, and Dick Harpootlian said that their client “believed that terminating his life was the only choice” and disclosed that Alex had a major drug addiction.
“Over the previous 20 years, numerous individuals have fed his drug addiction,” they said. “At that time, these people took advantage of his addiction and his willingness to spend large sums of money for illicit narcotics.”
A Hampton County Grand Jury indicted Alex in November 2021 for conspiracy, fraudulent insurance claim for payment of $10,000 or more, and making a fake police report.
Smith was charged with pointing and displaying a firearm, conspiracy, aided suicide, high and severe assault and battery, and filing a fraudulent insurance claim for $10,000 or more.
Smith has maintained his innocence. According to The New York Post, he went to the site thinking Alex needed a ride, then spotted him brandishing a pistol and attempted to take it away from him when the gun went off. “I’ve never done anything bad to anybody. “It’s just that easy,” Smith said.
Smith is presently being held at the Lexington County Detention Center after his bail was revoked in August on earlier charges, according to FITSNews.
The Fall of Alex’s Legal Legacy
Alex revealed via his lawyers in early September that he had resigned from his legal practice, Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED), and was attending a drug treatment program.
“The killings of my wife and kid have created an exceedingly tough moment in my life,” Alex told The Island Packet in a statement. “I’ve made a number of mistakes that I really regret.”
The legal business, which Alex’s great-grandfather founded in 1910, would subsequently claim that Alex promised to leave on September 3 – one day before his own shooting.
On October 6, 2021, PMPED filed a civil claim against Alex, alleging that Alex had been covertly stealing money from the business and its customers and transferring it into a bank account in his own name.
Alex “was able to covertly steal these funds by disguising disbursements from settlements as payments to an annuity company, trust account or structured settlement for clients or as structured attorney’s fees that he earned when in fact they were deposited into a fictitious account” he created at Bank of America under the name “Alexander Murdaugh d/b/a Forge,” according to the lawsuit, obtained by Oxygen.com.
Jury finds Alex Murdaugh guilty of killing wife, son
“He lied to us and stole from us,” the corporation said on its website. “Alex’s strategy was unknown to any member of PMPED. When we discovered he had broken our confidence, we quickly asked for his resignation.”
Griffin termed the lawsuit against his client a “very sad event” in a statement to Oxygen.com.
Alex submitted his response to the firm’s complaint on November 12, 2021, asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refusing to acknowledge the claims.
Alex has also been forbidden from working in the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, where he was an approved volunteer prosecutor, as a consequence of the scandal. In July 2022, the South Carolina Supreme Court officially disbarred him.
The Housekeeping of the Murdaugh Family Died
Alex was released on bond and headed to Florida to enter a drug rehabilitation program after being arrested in September, but the legal scion was arrested again by SLED in October 2021 for charges stemming from an investigation into misappropriated settlement funds in connection with the death of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield.
According to a statement from the Satterfield family’s lawyers, Eric S. Bland and Ronnie Richter, Satterfield died in February 2018 following a trip and fall accident at the Murdaughs’ Colleton County home.
According to Murdaugh family sources, Satterfield injured her head after falling over the Murdaugh family’s dogs, as reported in The New York Times. She was hospitalized for many weeks before succumbing to a stroke and heart arrest on February 26, 2018, according to the Greenville News.
According to a legal lawsuit filed on September 15, 2021, Alex pushed Satterfield’s sons, Brian Harriott, and Michael “Tony” Satterfield, to launch a wrongful death action against him after her death.
According to the lawsuit, he sent the two brothers to attorney Cory Fleming, who had been one of Alex’s close pals.
According to The New York Times, Fleming secured a $4.3 million settlement with Alex and his insurance, but the brothers’ lawyers claim they were never told of the deal and never received any of the money.
Alex, Fleming, Fleming’s legal firm, and others were listed as defendants in the son’s civil claim filed over the management of the Satterfield settlement.
“Murdaugh is the only defendant remaining in the civil action since the other listed parties have all settled or agreed to pay, totaling more than $6 million,” The Charlotte Observer reported on Nov. 23, 2021.
Fleming admitted to making substantial errors but maintained that “he was not a willful participant in Mr. Murdaugh’s plan but was utilized,” according to a joint news statement announcing his settlement in the case.
Satterfield’s brother, Eric Harriott, Jr., told NBC’s “Dateline” that it’s “not about the money.” He said that the family chose to go to court to seek justice for a lady who has diligently served the Murdaugh family for over 20 years.
“It’s as if she was a nobody, considering all she’s done for him,” he added.
On Nov. 17, Alex’s lawyers filed a petition to dismiss Satterfield’s boys’ claims against him, alleging that the kids had already received compensation for their injuries from the other defendants. “South Carolina law forbids Plaintiffs from recovering twice for the same damage,” the attorneys argued.
The motion was contested by the lawyers representing Satterfield’s sons, who called it “fatally defective” and said that “Murdaugh cannot claim that since others paid for the money he stole, he is entitled to a get out of prison free card.”
Investigators were also drawn to Alex’s involvement in the Satterfield settlement. A South Carolina Grand Jury indicted Alex on Nov. 19 with acquiring a signature or property by false pretenses, worth $10,000 or more (three charges); money laundering, worth $100,000 or more (three counts); and computer crime, worth $10,000 or more (three counts).
After multiple efforts by Alex’s counsel to get him freed on bail, the 53-year-old remains imprisoned in South Carolina while the investigation into his wife and son’s deaths continues.
According to ABC station WJCL, Alex has now signed a confession of judgment in favor of the Satterfield family, who were awarded more than $4.3 million, including lawyers’ expenses.
According to CBS station WLTX, SLED spokesman Renee Wunderlich acknowledged in June that the agency had gained authorization to exhume Satterfield’s remains, but she did not specify when the exhumation would take place. They did not provide any other information, citing the continuing inquiry.
Alex Murdaugh: Did He Murder His Wife And Son?
Alex Murdaugh’s trial for the deaths of his wife Maggie and son Paul started on January 25, 2023, in the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina. Authorities said Alex murdered both of his family members to divert attention away from his legal firm’s internal inquiry into his suspected financial crimes.
While Alex had claimed in the 20 months since his wife and son were killed that he wasn’t even at the scene when the shootings occurred, prosecutors presented evidence from a social media video posted by Paul shortly before his murder that showed Alex was, in fact, at the compound’s dog kennels with both victims shortly before 9 p.m., around the time authorities believe they were killed.
Alex acknowledged the deception when he unexpectedly entered the stand at the conclusion of the trial.
To explain the disparity between his original story and the evidence presented by prosecutors, Alex claimed he was paranoid when first questioned by South Carolina investigators – a byproduct of his opioid addiction, which he claimed fogged up his mind, and his distrust for the state’s law enforcement division.
Alex’s defense team contended that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s investigation was deeply flawed, claiming that the crime scene was improperly maintained and that any forensic evidence taken from the scene was suspect, as well as that investigators had zeroed in on Alex as a suspect so quickly that they failed to adequately investigate other potential suspects.
They contended that since the murders were performed using two different guns, they were most likely perpetrated by more than one gunman.
Such arguments were clearly unpersuasive. On March 2, jurors started deliberating after a nearly month-long trial.
It took them less than three hours to convict Alex Murdaugh of the murders of Maggie and Paul. He was condemned to life in jail with the possibility of parole.
WATCH: Body Cam Footage On Night Of the Alex Murdaugh Murders
How many more charges does Alex Murdaugh face?
According to the Attorney General’s office, Alex was charged with nine charges of breach of trust with a fraudulent purpose, seven counts of computer crimes, four counts of money laundering, and one act of forgery on December 9, 2021, in an alleged plot to defraud victims of $1,365,440.24.
According to investigators, the accused victims included family members, an illegal immigrant, and a vehicle accident victim.
During a bail hearing in December 2021, the disgraced lawyer revealed to the court that he was experiencing withdrawal symptoms around the time he allegedly hired Smith to murder him.
“My head is on straighter, and I’m thinking clearer than I have in a long, long time,” Murdaugh told NBC News. “I want to confront these allegations squarely. I want to fix as much of the damage as possible. “I aim to mend as many connections as possible.”
Alex was indicted on an additional 23 financial crime counts in January 2022, followed by four more in March and four more in May. Murdaugh was also charged with criminal conspiracy and drug charges in June.
According to NBC News, Alex is facing over 90 new criminal counts.
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