What Motivated Alex Murdaugh to Supposedly Murder His Wife and Son?

Put on your true crime hard helmets, because we're going digging for the truth! Alex Murdaugh, the patriarch of a prestigious South Carolina family, seemed to have it all: a loving wife, two handsome kids, and a prosperous legal profession.

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Put on your true crime hard helmets, because we’re going digging for the truth! Alex Murdaugh, the patriarch of a prestigious South Carolina family, seemed to have it all: a loving wife, two handsome kids, and a prosperous legal profession.

His apparently cheerful exterior would eventually collapse, and on June 7, 2021, his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul, would be shot to death on Murdaugh’s family estate.

Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal, a three-part Netflix docuseries, delves into all the inexplicable killings that may be traced back to Alex Murdaugh in any way, shape, or form. Alex is now on trial for the murders of Maggie and Paul, but what was his motivation for the horrible crime?

According to episode 2, Alex’s eldest son, Buster Murdaugh, was expelled from the University of South Carolina for plagiarism. Moreover, Alex and Maggie’s marriage had grown difficult, owing to “Maggie Murdaugh’s growing awareness that expenses were being unpaid.” 

There were allegations that Maggie engaged a forensic accountant to aid with their finances and also talked with a divorce attorney, according to Valerie Bauerlein, a journalist interviewed for the docuseries.

To add to the burden, Paul had been accused in the murder of Mallory Beach, 19, who died in February 2019 when an alcoholic Paul smashed his boat into a piling. According to the docuseries, Mallory perished after suffering blunt-force damage to her skull.

According to CBS News, Paul was accused of “boating while intoxicated, resulting in the death of Mallory Beach and severe physical injury to two passengers.” He pleaded not guilty to all accusations but was assassinated before he could face them.

Needless to say, the Murdaughs were going through a rough patch. As revealed in the Netflix series, Alex was detected misappropriating money from the business’s customers by his own legal practice — a company his great-grandfather founded — and was forced to quit.

The family of his late housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, was one of those patrons. In 2018, Gloria allegedly slipped and fell on his land while working, and Alex sued himself for wrongful death in order to compensate Gloria’s two boys. 

Alex reportedly collected almost $4 million from the death settlement, while Gloria’s family allegedly received nothing.

“Approximately one month before Gloria died on the Moselle property [the Murdaugh’s farm], [Alex] took out commercial insurance and subsequently reportedly received more than $4.3 million from the insurance claim relating to her death,” according to Netflix Life.

“We have proof that [Alex misappropriated money from other customers of the Murdaugh company] several times predating [misappropriating money from the Satterfield family],” said Satterfield family lawyers Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, who were interviewed during the docuseries.

Alex, according to the attorneys, has embezzled millions of dollars since 2015. They called the FBI throughout their investigation, and Alex was finally arrested in October 2021 for stealing money from the Satterfield family. Remember, this is around four months after Alex’s wife and children were brutally killed. 

Alex was charged with their deaths in July 2022, and his homicide trial began in January 2023 and is still proceeding as of this writing.

According to The Post and Courier, Alex’s reason for killing his wife and kid was “a desperate effort to portray himself as a victim and cover up his wrongdoing” since his financial misdeeds “were going to be revealed.”

According to The Guardian, “By killing his wife and son, authorities argued, Murdaugh tried to buy time and sympathy.”

Moreover, Paul’s ex-girlfriend, Morgan Doughty, said in the docuseries, “Mr. Alex, facing all this scrutiny from the media and the court… I believe he is going to be exposed for cheating, lying, and stealing from every aspect. Alex Murdaugh, I suspect, would murder Paul and Maggie.”

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