Mom, Son from Prominent S.C. Family Found Slain As He Awaited Trial in Boating Accident That Killed Teen
Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, 52, and her son, Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found shot and killed on their 1,770-acre property on the night of June 7
A mother and son from a prominent South Carolina family were shot and killed on their property while the son was awaiting trial in connection to a 2019 boat crash that left a 19-year-old woman dead, police say.
On June 7, agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division responded to a 911 call that came in at about 10 p.m. saying that two people were dead at a residence on Moselle Road in Islandton, the SLED says in a release.
Margaret "Maggie" Murdaugh, 52, and her son, Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found dead on the 1,770-acre property, where the family has a hunting lodge, the Associated Press, The Island Packet and WSAV report.
The Colleton County Coroner estimated their times of death to be between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., The Island Packet reports.
One of the victims was killed with a shotgun and the other with an assault rifle, sources told The Island Packet.
Police are still investigating and no arrests have been made.
Tragedy struck the family again three days later when the family patriarch, well-known local prosecutor Randolph Murdaugh III, 81, who was Maggie's father-in-law and Paul's grandfather, died, according to his law firm, Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick.
Randolph's cause of death has not been released.
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Maggie and Paul were members of the powerful Murdaugh family, who have been practicing law in South Carolina since 1910, according to the Murdaughs' law firm website. Three generations of the family have also served as solicitor of the 14th Judicial Circuit for more than 86 years.
"The Murdaugh family and PMPED wish to thank everyone for the many calls and condolences in the aftermath of the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh," the law firm wrote on Facebook Tuesday. "We ask for your continued patience and prayers through this tragic time."
The family was dealing with the stress of an upcoming trial when Maggie and Paul were killed.
In April 2019, Paul, then 20, was arrested and later indicted on charges of one count of boating under the influence (BUI) causing death and two counts of causing great bodily injury, online records show.
After attending a gathering on Parris Island in February 2019, Paul, who had allegedly been drinking, got behind the wheel of a boat with five passengers that crashed into a bridge piling at about 2 a.m., court records show, WSAV reported.
Mallory Beach, 19, was thrown from the boat. Her body was found a week later.
In May 2019, Paul pleaded not guilty. He was released on $50,000 bond. No trial date had been set.
His attorney, state Senator Dick Harpootlian, said at the time that his client was not a flight risk and said he entered the plea he did "because he is not guilty," WSAV reported.
The South Carolina Attorney General's Office was prosecuting this case because the Murdaugh family had relationships with the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office and Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, where the family has homes, WSAV reported.
In March 2019, Beach's mother, Renee, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Paul, his family and a convenience store that allegedly served Paul and his friends alcohol on the night of the accident, even though they were underage.
In a statement to WTOC, the Beach family said, "Having suffered the devastating loss of their own daughter, the family prays that the Murdaughs can find some level of peace from this tragic loss. They would like the family and the community to know that their thoughts and continued prayers are with the Murdaughs."
If you or someone you know has information regarding this incident, please call the Colleton Sheriff's Office at 843-549-2211 or Crime Stoppers at 888-CRIMESC.