Alex Murdaugh, a fourth-generation attorney whose family has long held power and influence in a rural South Carolina area, was charged on Thursday with murdering his wife and one of his sons in remote family hunting grounds in a murder mystery that has remained unsolved for over a year.
Murdaugh, 54, was charged with two counts of murder, with prosecutors saying he shot dead his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, with an assault rifle and son Paul Murdaugh, 22, with a handgun, June 7, 2021. Alex Murdaugh called 911 that night from the family estate in Islandton, about 65 miles west of Charleston, saying he had returned home to find his wife and children dead boy near his dog’s kennel.
The state police and South Carolina attorney general, who are investigating the case, have not released any new details about the murder, which has shocked the state’s legal community and raised eyebrows. caught the attention of amateur killers across the country. Mr Murdaugh, who has been in prison since October – unable to be released on bail after being indicted on dozens of fraud and financial charges – will appear before the judge Wednesday morning for a murder hearing.
Murdaugh’s lawyers said in a statement on Thursday that Mr Murdaugh was innocent of the murders and loved his wife and son “more than anything in the world.”
“Alex wants his family, friends and people to know that he had nothing to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul,” the attorneys said. They said police were soon able to narrow down Mr. Murdaugh and that he had no motive to kill them.
Understanding ‘Brutal Murders’
A South Carolina mystery. Unraveling the life of Alex Murdaugh, a prominent lawyer, is at the heart of a legends of mysterious deaths – including the murder of his wife and son – and allegations of multimillion-dollar fraudsters. Here’s what to know about this case:
The murders were immediately scrutinized the Murdaugh family and the deaths of several people associated with themas rocking that the family organizes in the area. Murdaugh’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather served as the top prosecutor in a large swath of the southern end of the state known as the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Police have begun a re-investigation into the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, a 19-year-old found along a road about 10 miles from Murdaugh’s home and who is believed to have been hit by a truck. the death of Gloria Satterfield in 2018, a housekeeper who had worked for the Murdaugh family and died after falling on the steps of their house. Last month, police said they planned to exhume Ms. Satterfield’s body. They are not accusing anyone of misconduct in the death of either person.
The murders also put new focus on a deadly boat crash in 2019, an accident that prosecutors allege happened while Paul Murdaugh was at the helm. Prosecutors charged Paul Murdaugh with drunk driving a boat into a bridge in 2019, killing one of several passengers in Mallory Beach, and he still faces those charges when he is killed. .
Beach’s family sued Alex Murdaugh, alleging that he was partly at fault for the collision because he knew his son had been underage drinking. At the time of the murder, attorneys for Beach’s family urged the judge to force Alex Murdaugh to submit documents related to his financial situation.
Shortly after the 2021 murder, Alex Murdaugh’s life began to unravel as those around him began accusing him of years of financial corruption. The law firm where he works, founded by his great-grandfather more than a century ago, said in September that Mr. stolen millions of dollars from the company.
A day after he was forced to resign from the company, police said he asked one of his distant cousins to kill him on the side of the road and perform the act as if it were a murder so his other son, Buster, could. collected on your life insurance policy. The plan failed – Mr. Murdaugh was apparently injured in the shooting but not seriously – and he and his cousin, Curtis Edward Smith, were charged with multiple counts in the plot.
In the months that followed, Mr. Murdaugh was accused of a series of financial crimes, including pocketing $2.8 million in settlement funds that were supposed to go to relatives of Ms. Satterfield in a false claim that she had dropped Mr. Murdaugh’s assets. Last month, he admitted that he owes her sons $4.3 million.
Things went further when two of Mr. Murdaugh’s associates – a lawyer and a former executive of a South Carolina bank – had charge this year with various financial fraud schemes and crimes that prosecutors describe as conspiring to obtain Mr. Murdaugh’s aid money. In total, Mr. Murdaugh has been charged with pocket fraud of about $8.5 million, according to the South Carolina attorney general.
This month, Mr. Murdaugh and Mr. Smith, his distant cousin, were indicted on charges of conspiring for what prosecutors say was multi-year money laundering related to the distribution of oxycodone. Mr. Murdaugh said last year that he was addicted to drugs and that he checked himself into a drug rehab center in Florida, but he had arrested at the center in October for financial crimes regarding the settlement funds in the case of Ms. Satterfield.
This week, shortly after news broke that he was likely charged with murdering his wife and son, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered that he be deprived based on his admission that he owed money to Miss Satterfield’s family, had stolen from his law firm, and had attempted to fake his own murder.
The murders have drawn great attention to Hampton County, a rural area of about 18,000 people where the Murdaugh family’s legal dynasty has been active since 1910, and have been the subject of several true crime podcast and documentaries are still in the works.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Director Mark Keel said in a statement Thursday that agents have remained focused on the investigation for the past 13 months and are determined to identify the perpetrator.
“Today is another step in the long process of getting justice for Maggie and Paul,” Sheriff Keel said.