Alex Murdaugh, 54, murdered his wife and son — Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22 — on June 7, 2021, to divert attention from his other crimes, according to a document filed by prosecutors in Colleton County Court.
The document explained that Murdaugh had tried to mislead law enforcement by saying that the two murders were linked to the 2019 boat accident that killed Mallory Beach, 19, Paul’s friend. At the time of his death, Paul was facing charges of operating the boat under the influence of alcohol.
Investigators then demanded DNA samples of Paul’s other friends who survived the incident and their family members. However, the results did not suggest they were involved in Maggie and Paul’s murders.
The double murders occurred at Murdaugh’s hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina. Murdaugh made a 911 call after 10 p.m., reporting that he had found Maggie and Paul “badly shot” near dog kennels located on the expansive property.
Evidence later proved that Murdaugh was the one murdering his own wife and son. The state said Murdaugh had to save himself from “immediate certainty of exposure” of his financial crimes on the day of the murders.
At that time, Murdaugh was questioned about the financial irregularities in his former law firm, Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED) — now called the Parker Law Group LLP — and should provide answers for his partners by the end of the day. Murdaugh was also expected to submit his financial records two days later for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Prosecutors said Murdaugh had been in a dire financial situation for decades, with his condition further declining after the boat accident. Despite coming from the reputable Murdaugh family, he had a lot of debts thanks to “a series of bad land deals” and the U.S. financial crisis.
To pay for his debt, Murdaugh resorted to crime and fraud. He allegedly stole $8.7 million in client settlements and took out loans without means of repayment. The deaths of Maggie and Paul allowed Murdaugh some time to cover up his misdeeds because it gained him support and sympathy from the community.
Prosecutors have asked the court to allow them to introduce financial misdeeds that Murdaugh conducted to establish his motive for the murder. For example, Murdaugh allegedly embezzled the settlement money from the death of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, 57, who had died in an accident on his property.
The court filing also said, “Since people are naturally expected to love their wives and sons instead of brutally gunning them down, why Murdaugh did what he is accused of doing will unquestionably weigh on any rational juror’s mind when deciding whether the State has met it burden of proof.”
Murdaugh is currently detained in the Alvin S Glenn Detention Center in Columbia. The trial for Maggie and Paul’s murders will begin on January 23, 2023. If convicted, Murdaugh may serve a life sentence.
Failed Suicide Attempt
The former lawyer was under scrutiny after claiming someone had shot him in the head on September 4, 2021. Within days of investigations, Murdaugh admitted to staging the shooting by hiring his former client, Curtis Smith, 61. Murdaugh said it was a suicide-for-hire attempt that he had planned to secure his $10 million life insurance for his surviving older son, Buster, 26.
During the bond hearing for his attempted insurance fraud last year, Murdaugh told the jury that he was struggling with opioid addiction and the deaths of Maggie and Paul.
“I made a terrible decision that I regret, and frankly, I’m embarrassed about,” Murdaugh said at that time. “I’m not in that place now.”