On June 7, 2021, at about noon, South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh rushed through the doors of his family’s famed personal injury practice. The tall 53-year-old was dressed in Lowcountry work casual attire: khakis, a sea-foam polo, and a blue sport coat on a beautiful early summer day.
Murdaugh’s noon arrival that Monday did not surprise his colleagues since he was known in the office as a “frenetic” employee who worked different hours than the other lawyers. Murdaugh had a “good clientele,” but coworkers believed that his “gift of the gab,” rather than his work ethic or organizational abilities, was the secret to his success.
“I call Alex the Tasmanian Devil,” Murdaugh’s long-time paralegal Annette Griswold would later admit. “He’s always been difficult to obtain answers from. He was seldom there, and when he was, the door was shut.”
What occurred on June 7 in Colleton County—not in the law office, but at the Murdaugh family hunting estate—would blast open a lot of locked doors in the coming months.
Prosecutors believe he was the murderer of his wife, Maggie, and son Paul, 22, who was shot to death outside dog kennels—and he was determined to distract attention away from his financial misdeeds.
The older Murdaugh, who has subsequently been disbarred and confessed to organizing a hit on himself in order to get an insurance settlement for his surviving son, is now on trial for the two killings.
The Daily Beast was able to put together his activities on a day that started with his frantic arrival at the legal office and concluded in pools of blood at his property according to testimony in the case and other evidence presented in court.
Murdaugh had no motivation to kill his “beautiful” family, according to the defense team.
Yet, prosecution witnesses presented a picture of a man who was terrified of a lawsuit that threatened to ruin his image in the community and reveal a hidden two-decade opiate addiction.
The paralegal, Griswold, said that she first observed a shift in Murdaugh’s manner in 2019, when Paul allegedly drunkenly wrecked a boat, killing 19-year-old Mallory Beach. (At the time of his murder, Paul was facing charges in connection with the collision, and his father was listed in a wrongful death lawsuit seeking financial information from him.)
“He was simply more difficult to reach, and there were several times when I referred to him as having his ass on his shoulders,” Griswold said. “He simply wasn’t himself with us… He would come in and shout our names, and he simply didn’t treat us the same way he had before the boat disaster.”
Blanca Turrubiate-Simpson, the family’s long-term maid, testified that the boat disaster also weighed hard on Maggie. Maggie had previously stated that she feared her husband was not giving her the truth about “what was actually going on” with the case.
“We don’t have that type of money,” Maggie told Turrubiate-Simpson through tears.
Jeanine Seckinger, who claimed she met Alex Murdaugh in high school and is in charge of the law firm’s accounting, told jurors he was so consumed with the litigation that he admitted to transferring money under Maggie’s name to disguise assets.
“We were worried that he was attempting to accomplish that, and we didn’t want to be a part of it,” Seckinger said.
Seckinger confronted Murdaugh outside his office on June 7, 2021, and demanded to know the location of over $800,000 in unpaid legal fees for a case he handled.
Murdaugh’s chat was cut short when he received a phone call informing him that his sick father had gotten poor medical news and that he was required in the hospital.
Murdaugh contacted Seckinger in the office at 4 p.m., asking for information regarding his 401k, and explained that he was working on his financial records for an expected hearing in the boat case later that week.
It is unclear when Murdaugh left the office for the day, but Turrubiate-Simpson said that he was not there when she left the estate around 6 p.m.
Turrubiate-Simpson claimed she got a text from Maggie earlier that day, after sending Murdaugh off to work, stating she and Paul had been called to their hunting estate that evening.
“Maggie told me she had to go to a doctor’s appointment, and she stated…in the text she wrote ‘Alex wants me to come home,'” says the author. Turrubiate-Simpson gave testimony on Friday. “She sounded as though she didn’t want to come home.”
Turrubiate-Simpson said that she prepared cubed steak with white rice, gravy, and green beans before messaging Maggie to inform her that supper had been left on the burner and that she was leaving.
Paul sent a Snapchat to at least one of his buddies at about 7:56 p.m., showing Alex Murdaugh staring at a tiny tree that was collapsing under its own weight. Paul may be heard in the background chuckling and whispering something to Murdaugh.
Will Loving, a friend, testified that Paul and his father were incredibly close and that their connection was often depicted in Paul’s Snapchat videos.
Maggie arrived at the home at about 8:15 p.m. and had a brief supper with Paul and Murdaugh. According to cellular data provided by prosecutor Creighton Waters, Paul had strolled over to the dog kennels at about 8:30 p.m.
Paul spoke with his buddy Rogan Gibson at 8:40 p.m. about his chocolate Labrador, who was living at the Murdaugh family’s dog kennels and may have had a damaged tail.
Following a four-minute and four-second phone call with Gibson, Paul filmed a video at 8:44 p.m. attempting to catch the dog’s tail. Alex and Maggie may be heard in the background, according to prosecutors and multiple witnesses.
“He’s got a bird in his mouth,” Maggie is heard saying in the 50-second video transmitted to Gibson. “Come here, Bubba!” exclaims the guy. “Bubba, come here!”
Murdaugh subsequently informed investigators that he was sleeping in the main home at the time this video was taken.
Lt. Britt Dove, who works in the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s computer crimes department, said that Maggie’s phone data revealed that the last text messages she saw were received before 8:49 p.m.
Among them was a group text from her brother-in-law, John Marvin Murdaugh, asking whether the family planned to visit her ill father-in-law the next day.
Prosecutors claim Murdaugh murdered his son with a rifle about a minute later, at 8:50 p.m., before fatally shooting his wife.
According to authorities, Paul was shot twice and Maggie was shot six times using a weapon that prosecutors suspect was a.300 Blackout semi-automatic. Neither weapon has been found.
“Neither Paul nor Maggie had any defense wounds—as if they didn’t perceive a danger from their assailant,” Waters testified in court last month. “Both Maggie and Paul were shot at close range.”
Many law enforcement officers submitted cell phone data before jurors to indicate the measures Murdaugh allegedly took to cover up the murder and create an alibi. He started contacting individuals close to him at 9 p.m., including his ill father, many acquaintances, and even his deceased wife.
Data from Murdaugh’s 2021 Chevrolet Suburban revealed that the car traveled for roughly 16 minutes at 9:06 p.m., according to FBI electronics expert Dwight Falkofske, who testified this week.
Authorities claim Murdaugh was driving to his sick mother’s residence in Almeda while contacting friends and relatives.
“I’m going to see about M. According to Dove, Murdaugh texted Maggie about 9:08 p.m. that night, alluding to his mother.
Chris Wilson, a former close friend and law school roommate of Murdaugh’s, told jurors that in a short phone contact about 9:11 p.m., he informed Murdaugh he was working on a malfunctioning pool pump as he and his wife watched The Bachelor on their patio.
Wilson went on to say that around 9:20 p.m., he contacted Murdaugh again, who replied that he had just arrived at his mother’s home and would call back later.
The visit to Murdaugh’s mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, is key to the defense’s allegation that he did not murder his family. Mushell “Shelley” Smith, Murdaugh’s mother’s carer, thought it was strange that he came to visit that evening since he usually visited during the day.
According to FBI electronics engineer Dwight Falkofske, Murdaugh’s Vehicle data indicates he arrived at the residence around 9:22 p.m.
Smith said that Murdaugh “was fidgeting” throughout the 20-minute visit and then quickly departed. Murdaugh later advised her that if anybody inquired, she should claim he’d been at his mother’s home for around 30 to 40 minutes.
Falkofske said that Murdaugh’s Vehicle was pulled out of the park at 9:43 p.m., coinciding with other data and evidence indicating he left his mother’s house and returned home. Data presented in court show that Murdaugh was texting and contacting friends and relatives along the way.
“Call me baby,” Murdaugh texted his wife at 9:47 p.m., according to mobile data.
Murdaugh texted Wilson at 9:52 p.m. to “call me if you’re up.” Wilson stated that he quickly phoned back his buddy and ultimately reached Murdaugh on the phone. He said Murdaugh informed him that he had just visited his mother and was on his way home.
Murdaugh told police that he first went to the main house before realizing Paul and Maggie were not there and driving down to the dog kennels to locate them.
Falkofske claims his Vehicle data backs up this allegation, demonstrating that the automobile was in and out of park multiple times before 10:06 p.m.
Since Murdaugh’s phone was linked to his vehicle, the SUV also recorded the two 911 calls he made at the time after claiming to have discovered his wife and children unresponsive.
“I’ve finally gotten around to it. “It’s horrible,” Murdaugh stated in court during a seven-minute 911 call.
Numerous first responders told jurors that they observed Murdaugh agitated but not teary-eyed at the dog kennels. In body-camera evidence shown in court, Murdaugh informs a law enforcement officer almost immediately that he thinks the reason for the killings is retribution for the boat tragedy.
Some of Murdaugh’s closest friends, relatives, and coworkers had gathered on the estate by this point.
Murdaugh grew highly distraught at losing his family in his first police interview, which took place around three hours after he phoned 911 while describing to detectives that he was nowhere near the kennels at the time of the murder.
“I drove up and I could see them, I knew it was something horrible,” Murdaugh stated on the recording before sobbing.
Witnesses have described the days that followed the double killing that shook the Lowcountry.
Griswold told jurors that she and others in the workplace went into “momma bear mode” when they saw Murdaugh, and Wilson underscored that friends and family never left his pal alone for fear he would “attempt to kill himself.”
The killings also accomplished what prosecutors said was one of Murdaugh’s key goals: they put an end to any questioning about his financial misdeeds.
“Alex was agitated and angry, and he was not in the office,” Seckinger said. “We did not want to bother him.”
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Jurors will hear evidence in the following days about how Murdaugh’s respite was brief. He’d lost his job, confessed to his addiction, and tried a weird coverup by Labor Day 2021.
“I don’t believe I ever got to know him,” Seckinger said. “I don’t believe anybody knows who he is.”