South Carolina Attorney Alex Murdaugh Accused of Killing Wife and Son | South Carolina

Former South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh has been charged with double murder in the murders of his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, nearly 13 months after he made an emergency call and said he had found them dead near a dog kennel on the family’s country estate.

Prosecutors mark a milestone in a case that includes seven separate investigations into the extensive case, each involving the 54-year-old lawyer at their center.

Murdaugh was charged with two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a firearm while committing a violent crime, after evidence was presented to a grand jury in Colleton county. Court documents released Thursday claim Murdaugh shot his wife with a rifle and his son with a shotgun.

The civilian lawyer, who was ruled out earlier in the week, had told investigators he went to the property after visiting his ailing father and discovered the two bodies.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement: “All efforts by our office and the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation have been focused on seeking justice for the families of the victims.”

Wilson declined to give further details in the case.

South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (Sled) chief Mark Keel said, “Today is another step in a long process of justice for Maggie and Paul.”

On Tuesday, state police told family members they planned to file criminal charges against Murdaugh and did not name other suspects in the case.

Murdaugh had reported that he found his wife and son shot and killed shortly after 10pm on June 7 last year. Investigators released little information about the killings, but it soon emerged that they had been killed with various weapons – a combat rifle and a shotgun. Investigators said there was no threat, prompting speculation that a suspect may already be known by them.

The killings also put the spotlight on the prominent Murdaugh family, who for nearly a century have represented wealth, power and privileges in the lowlands of South Carolina.

For three generations, a member of Murdaugh’s has served as chief prosecutor for the southern tip of the state, and the family law firm had earned a fortune on legal lawsuits, often against the railroad running through the area.

But interlocking investigations began to bring charges against Alex Murdaugh. Prosecutors accused him of diverting $ 8.5 million in court settlements from personal injury cases to a bank account he controlled.

Murdaugh also faces 79 fraud-related charges. Two other people have been charged in connection with the alleged financial crimes. A federal investigation into the Murdaugh empire is also underway, according to Fits News, a news site in South Carolina.

The portfolio of alleged scams includes a $ 3.5 million insurance payment due to the family of his late housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died after a slip-and-fall accident at the Murdaugh home. Authorities are now preparing to dig up her remains.

Authorities have also opened an investigation into the unsolved death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith, whose body was found with blunt head trauma on a nearby county road in July 2015. Smith’s death was initially investigated as a homicide, and then blamed on a hit-and-run. -run.

A sign welcomes people to Hampton county, South Carolina, where the Murdaughs have been prominent for generations.
A sign welcomes people to Hampton county, South Carolina, where the Murdaughs have been prominent for generations. Photo: Jeffrey Collins / AP

But files with the state highway patrol showed that a Murdaugh family member – a personal injury lawyer – called Smith’s family the day he was found and offered to represent them free of charge. The family told police they thought the offer was “strange”.

Smith had gone to high school with Buster Murdaugh, Alex’s surviving son. “I think so [his death] was because he was gay. I said it was a hate crime from the beginning, ”Smith’s mother, Sandy, said in an interview last year.

Separately, Paul Murdaugh, the son found dead last year, awaited a trial accused of sailing under the influence. The allegations stemmed from a crash in 2019 in which 19-year-old Mallory Beach, a passenger in the boat, died after being thrown overboard in a collision with a bridge pier.

Beach family lawyer Mark Tinsley told the Guardian last year: “The Beach family is outraged at the way the criminal investigation was conducted while their daughter’s body was missing, and believes people were actively trying to cover up what had happened. . “

The murder charges have begun to clarify the chain of events that investigators believe three months later may have led to a fake suicide-for-rent plot in which Alex Murdaugh was allegedly shot in the head by a cousin, Curtis Smith, d. in what may have been a plot to give his surviving son, Buster, a $ 10 million life insurance payment.

The apparent shot hit Murdaugh’s head; a toxicological report found opioids and barbiturates in his blood. Smith claimed he was 1,000% sure Murdaugh was not shot. Ten days later, Murdaugh was arrested in connection with the road shooting. Curtis Smith has been charged with assisted suicide, insurance fraud and several other offenses. He denies the allegations.

Days later, Murdaugh checked into an addiction rehabilitation service to treat a long-term opioid addiction and was later arrested at another rehab facility in Florida on charges that he had diverted millions in wrongful death settlement funds from the family to Satterfield, the housekeeper. in what the prosecutors described as a scheme “to sue themselves for seeking an insurance settlement”.

At the October bond hearing, Assistant Attorney General Creighton Waters said the alleged Satterfield scam “is the tip of the iceberg”. Outside court, family lawyer Ronnie Richter said class issues characterize the case.

“We have a problem in the country with the perception that power and influence, true or not, gives you a different level of justice from privates,” he said.

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