The ‘Murdaugh Murders’ in South Carolina: What to Know

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The unsolved killings of a lawyer’s woman and lad person brought caller scrutiny to 3 different deaths successful caller years.

Alex Murdaugh astatine  his enslaved  proceeding  connected  Thursday successful  Varnville, S.C., aft  surrendering to look   security  fraud and different   charges.
Credit...Mic Smith/Associated Press

Sept. 19, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

ISLANDTON, S.C. — The unsolved sidesplitting of a parent and son. Millions of dollars successful stolen funds. Fresh investigations into a fatal vessel clang and a housekeeper’s deadly fall.

The mysteries swirling astir a lawyer and his household successful South Carolina person gotten lone much tragic and perplexing this summer, and with them person travel 2 arrests, stunning twists and intricate theories — arsenic galore much parts of the lawsuit stay unsolved. At its halfway is the Murdaugh family, whose members person served successful almighty ineligible positions successful the confederate portion of the authorities going backmost 100 years.

It each began connected June 7, erstwhile Alex Murdaugh, a lawyer whose father, gramps and great-grandfather each served arsenic the apical authoritative crossed a wide swath of the state, came location precocious 1 nighttime to find his woman and 1 of their 2 sons changeable to death.

Their killings stay unsolved, and things person gotten lone much puzzling since then. The archetypal probe has spawned respective much into 3 erstwhile deaths successful proximity to the family, and Mr. Murdaugh himself ended up successful handcuffs connected Sept. 16 aft concocting a bizarre strategy to signifier his ain termination to look similar a murder.

Here’s what to know.

The fatal shooting of Mr. Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, 52, and their son, Paul, a 22-year-old inferior astatine the University of South Carolina, rocked the state’s Lowcountry region, wherever the household had established its ineligible dynasty. The killings began to beryllium known arsenic the Murdaugh murders.

Few details person been released astir the attack, and nary arrests person been made.

Mr. Murdaugh discovered their bodies erstwhile helium returned to the family’s isolated location successful Islandton, a agrarian hamlet astir 65 miles westbound of Charleston.

In audio of his telephone to 911, which helium placed conscionable aft 10 p.m., a distraught Mr. Murdaugh said helium had gotten location and recovered their bodies connected the crushed “out astatine my kennel.”

“I’ve been up to it now, it’s bad,” Mr. Murdaugh told the dispatcher. He said that neither his woman nor his lad was breathing, and helium implored the exigency responders to hurry. “Are they close, ma’am?”

Officers with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office wrote successful reports that they had discovered respective ammunition casings and had called a tow motortruck institution to the scene. They besides said they had looked for surveillance cameras from neighboring homes and businesses, though the heavy redacted constabulary reports bash not bespeak whether they recovered any.

Nearly 3 months aft his woman and lad were killed, Alex Murdaugh, 53, was forced to resign from his household instrumentality firm, P.M.P.E.D. — named for the initials of its partners — aft leaders astatine the steadfast said Mr. Murdaugh had misused millions of dollars of lawsuit and steadfast money, which his lawyers person not denied.

The adjacent day, Sept. 4, Mr. Murdaugh called 911 and said helium had been changeable successful the caput connected the broadside of a agrarian roadworthy not acold from his home. He survived with lone a insignificant coiled and initially claimed that helium had been changeable by idiosyncratic who pulled up beside him arsenic helium was inspecting a level tyre connected his car. But the communicative rapidly fell apart.

Mr. Murdaugh soon admitted that helium had really paid a erstwhile lawsuit to sprout him successful the head. Mr. Murdaugh’s lawyers said helium had travel up with the program to marque his termination look similar a execution due to the fact that helium had falsely believed that his beingness security program would not screen his decease if it was ruled a suicide. He had wanted to permission his older son, Buster, with a $10 cardinal payout.

Two days aft the shooting, Mr. Murdaugh issued a connection apologizing to his “family, friends and colleagues” and said helium was entering rehab. His lawyers said helium had been addicted for years to oxycodone and that his maltreatment of the painkiller had worsened aft the decease of his woman and son.

His strategy to person his erstwhile lawsuit termination him ended successful the apprehension of some Mr. Murdaugh and the erstwhile client, Curtis E. Smith, 61. Mr. Smith was charged with aggravated assault, assisting successful a termination effort and security fraud.

Mr. Murdaugh turned himself successful to the constabulary connected Sept. 16 and was charged with security fraud, conspiracy to perpetrate security fraud and filing a mendacious constabulary report, each felonies.

In a courtroom successful Hampton County, Mr. Murdaugh wept down a look disguise arsenic helium sat handcuffed and successful a jailhouse jumpsuit arsenic 1 of his lawyers described his “fall from grace.” He was freed from jailhouse without having to forfeit immoderate wealth and returned to the rehabilitation center, which his lawyers said was successful different state.

Mr. Murdaugh and his lawyers person steadfastly denied that helium had immoderate engagement successful his woman and son’s deaths.

“The lone unit he’s ever been progressive successful is this, which was to person himself executed,” 1 of his lawyers, Dick Harpootlian, who is besides a authorities senator, said successful court.

At the clip of his death, Paul Murdaugh, the lad who was killed, was retired connected bail aft being charged successful 2019 with drunkenly crashing a vessel successful an mishap that killed 1 of his passengers, 19-year-old Mallory Beach, and injured respective others.

Documents and videos released since his death person raised questions astir whether the constabulary were sloppy oregon gave him favorable treatment. One of the boat’s six passengers told a Department of Natural Resources serviceman soon aft the clang that Paul Murdaugh had been driving the boat, but the serviceman wrote successful a study that the rider had said helium was not definite who was driving.

The South Carolina lawyer wide is inactive investigating the crash, successful which Paul Murdaugh faced a complaint of boating nether the power causing decease and 2 charges of boating nether the power causing large bodily injury, each felonies. The authorities person not made immoderate ties betwixt the vessel clang and the double-killing.

In June, 2 of Alex Murdaugh’s brothers appeared connected ABC’s “Good Morning America” and said successful 1 of the fewer nationalist comments from the household that Paul, their nephew, had been getting threatening messages since being charged successful the vessel accident.

In February 2018, Gloria Satterfield, who had worked arsenic a nanny and housekeeper for Alex Murdaugh and his household for much than 20 years, fell astatine their location and died from her injuries aboriginal that month.

The decease was considered an accidental autumn astatine the time, but connected Sept. 15, the coroner successful Hampton County, S.C., wrote successful a missive to authorities constabulary that Ms. Satterfield’s decease had not been reported to the coroner and that nary autopsy had been conducted. The coroner, Angela Topper, said the decease was listed arsenic “natural” connected Ms. Satterfield’s decease certificate, which did not marque consciousness if it was an accidental fall.

That aforesaid week, Ms. Satterfield’s 2 sons said they had ne'er received immoderate wealth from the $505,000 colony that their erstwhile lawyer had reached with Mr. Murdaugh successful a suit implicit Ms. Satterfield’s death. That suit had raised a wrongful decease assertion but did not allege immoderate criminality connected the Murdaughs’ part. The sons, present represented by caller lawyers, filed a caller suit against Mr. Murdaugh and their aged lawyer, seeking transparency astir wherever the wealth had gone.

All of that led the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which is investigating the Murdaugh killings, to unfastened a caller probe into Ms. Satterfield’s decease and the colony payment.

“I can’t callback a lawsuit that required sunlight much than this one,” said Ronnie Richter, 1 of the caller lawyers for Ms. Satterfield’s sons. “Wherever it comes from, it’s a bully thing.”

The housekeeper’s decease is not the lone 1 to person caller scrutiny.

In June, a fewer weeks aft the decease of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced that it was opening a caller enquiry into the decease of Stephen Smith, a 19-year-old antheral who was recovered connected a roadworthy astir 10 miles from the Murdaugh home.

His decease has ne'er been afloat explained, and nary arrests were made. It was initially investigated arsenic a imaginable shooting, past was considered to beryllium a deed and run. Police files person suggested that Mr. Smith ran retired of state connected the broadside of the roadworthy respective miles distant from wherever his assemblage was found.

The constabulary person not accused the Murdaugh household of wrongdoing successful the case, and they person not said what — during their Murdaugh probe — led them to unfastened an probe into Mr. Smith’s death.

“I’ve been waiting connected this time for 2,174 days,” Mr. Smith’s mother, Sandy Smith, told FITSNews, an online quality outlet, successful June aft learning that the authorities constabulary would reappraisal her son’s death.

The Murdaugh ineligible dynasty goes backmost to Randolph Murdaugh, who ran a one-man instrumentality bureau earlier helium was elected, successful 1920, arsenic the archetypal main authoritative for a five-county portion that covers 3,200 quadrate miles.

He served successful the presumption for 2 decades earlier helium was killed successful a bid crash. Then his son, Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh, Jr., took implicit the office, known arsenic the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. The younger Murdaugh was successful the presumption for 46 years and, erstwhile helium retired, his son, Randolph Murdaugh III, Alex Murdaugh’s father, was elected, serving until 2006.

Alex Murdaugh ne'er ran for the authoritative job, but helium did service arsenic a unpaid authoritative and sometimes helped his begetter with cases. He was officially removed from that unpaid relation successful September, The Island Packet paper reported.

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