Everything to Know About the Murdaugh Family Murders, Including Details of Allegations Against Alex

Since the wife and son of a prominent South Carolina family were found murdered in June 2021, the case has taken shocking twists

01 of 17

A Shocking Double Murder

Maggie Murdaugh; Paul Murdaugh
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh. Maggie Murdaugh Facebook

On June 7, 2021, agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division responded to a late-night 911 call saying that two people were dead at a residence in Islandton, S.C.

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 two were survived by Maggie's husband Alex, then 53, and son Richard, AKA Buster, all members of the powerful Murdaugh family, who have been practicing law in South Carolina since 1910, according to the Murdaughs' now-former law firm website. Three generations of the family have also served as solicitor of the 14th Judicial Circuit for more than 86 years.

Paul was awaiting trial in connection to a 2019 boat crash that left a 19-year-old woman dead, police said.

In April of that year, 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 that February, 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.

Days after the murders, Alex's brothers appeared on Good Morning America, insinuating that Paul was threatened online before his murder and insisting Alex didn't have anything to do with the deaths of his wife and son.

02 of 17

A Second Tragedy

Randolph Murdaugh III
Randolph Murdaugh III. Facebook

Tragedy struck the family again three days later when the family patriarch, well-known local prosecutor Randolph Murdaugh III, 81, died, according to his now-defunct law firm, Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED).

03 of 17

A Mysterious Shooting

Alex Murdaugh
Alex Murdaugh. Facebook

On Sept. 4, 2021, news broke that Alex was shot in Hampton County, S.C.

"He was shot in the head while he was changing a tire," Murdaugh's attorney Jim Griffin confirmed to PEOPLE. "He is conscious and talking, which is a very good sign."

An unidentified good Samaritan reportedly drove him to an ambulance, where EMTs began treatment and called in a helicopter to airlift Alex to a hospital.

Griffin told PEOPLE that Alex suffered "an entry and exit wound, a skull fracture, and minor brain bleeding in two places." At the time, he also said that the gunshot wound was not self-inflicted.

SLED spokesperson Tommy Crosby added to PEOPLE, "agents are actively investigating the incident," and local authorities classified it as an "attempted murder."

Two days later, Alex — whose wounds were "superficial," the S.C. Law Enforcement Division told PEOPLE — released a statement saying he was leaving his job at Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick and entering treatment once he left the hospital.

"The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life," he said in the statement, which was obtained by The Island Packet. "I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret. I'm resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated by these murders."

"I am immensely sorry to everyone I've hurt, including my family, friends and colleagues," he continued. "I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself and my relationships."

04 of 17

Legal Troubles Come to Light

Murdaugh Family
The Murdaugh family. Maggie Murdaugh/Facebook

The case took another turn on Sept. 7, 2021, when PEOPLE reported that members of Alex's law firm had confronted him about missing money on Sept. 3 before notifying law enforcement and the South Carolina Bar Association, The Island Packet reported. A source told the outlet that more than $1 million was missing and after being confronted, Alex told his lawyer that he would be resigning.

The next day, Alex was shot, and members of his law firm went to the scene to report details of the missing money to authorities.

"This is disappointing news for all of us," PMPED said in a statement obtained by the Island Packet, noting that the firm had cut all ties with Murdaugh. "Rest assured that our firm will deal with this in a straightforward manner. There's no place in our firm for such behavior."

Attorney Jim Griffin told PEOPLE in a statement that "Alex resigned from the firm after being accused of diverting lawyer fees. These allegations prompted him to confront his dependency and he voluntarily checked into an in-patient substance abuse rehab facility after being discharged from the hospital Monday."

On Sept. 8, Alex's law license was temporarily suspended by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Less than one week later, on Sept. 13, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division announced that it opened an investigation into allegations that Alex stole funds from his law fiirm.

05 of 17

The Family Speaks

John and Randy Murdaugh
Randy Murdaugh and John Marvin Murdaugh on "Good Morning America" in June. ABC News

In the midst of the news, Alex's older brother Randolph Murdaugh IV came forward in September 2021 to denounce the alleged criminal actions of his beleaguered brother.

Speaking out for the first time since Alex resigned from Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED) after members accused him of misappropriating funds and pushed him out, Randy said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE: "I was shocked, just as the rest of my PMPED family, to learn of my brother, Alex's, drug addiction and stealing of money.

"I love my law firm, family, and also love Alex as my brother," Randy wrote. "While I will support him in his recovery, I do not support, condone, or excuse his conduct in stealing by manipulating his most trusted relationships."

06 of 17

The Truth Comes Out

Curtis Edward Smith
Curtis Edward Smith. Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

On Sept. 15, 2021, there was a surprising break in Alex's shooting case: authorities alleged he attempted to arrange his own shooting death in order for his surviving son to receive $10 million in life insurance.

Curtis Edward Smith (pictured), the man Alex allegedly hired to kill him, was arrested by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division on Sept. 15, 2021, and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.

According to Smith's arrest affidavit, which was obtained by PEOPLE, Alex conspired with Smith, then 61, on a scheme to shoot him. Alex allegedly provided Smith with a firearm and directed him to shoot him in the head.

Alex allegedly admitted to the scheme on Sept. 13, 2021, with Smith admitting to his part the day after. Alex's lawyer Dick Harpootlian confirmed the news on Today on Sept. 15, saying Alex's addiction to opioids and his depression following the June murders of his wife and son drove him to concoct the scheme.

Alex "clearly knew what he's done was wrong," Harpootlian told Today. Harpootlian added that at the time of the Sept. 4, 2021, shooting, Alex was in "a massive depression" and was in withdrawal from opioids.

Harpootlian told Today his client wanted his son to claim life insurance monies, but "believed that $10 million policy had a suicide exclusion," not realizing the exclusion had expired.

"It was an attempt on his part to do something to protect his child," Harpootlian continued.

Later on Sept. 15, Alex's lawyers released a statement claiming Smith exploited Alex's drug addiction and mental health problems.

"On September 4, it became clear Alex believed that ending his life was his only option. Today, he knows that's not true. For the last 20 years, there have been many people feeding his addiction to opioids," read the statement, obtained by PEOPLE.

"During that time, these individuals took advantage of his addiction and his ability to pay substantial funds for illegal drugs. One of those individuals," the statement alleged, "took advantage of his mental illness and agreed to take Alex's life, by shooting him in the head."

07 of 17

Alex Is Arrested in Connection with His Own Shooting

Alex Murdaugh
Alex Murdaugh Mugshot. Hampton County Detention Center/AP/Shutterstock

Alex's attorneys issued a statement on Sept. 15, 2021, saying they learned of a warrant for his arrest and that he planned to voluntarily surrender to authorities the next day.

On Sept. 16, 2021, as promised, Alex pulled up to the Hampton County Law Enforcement Center in an SUV and turned himself in.

Soon after, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced that it had arrested Alex "in connection to a shooting incident on Sept. 4 in which he conspired with Curtis Edward Smith to assist him in committing suicide for the explicit purpose of allowing a beneficiary to collect life insurance," the state's highest law enforcement agency said in a news release.

Alex was charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report.

"I can assure you that SLED agents will continue working to bring justice to anyone involved with any criminal act associated with these ongoing investigations," said SLED Chief Mark Keel in the release. "The arrests in this case are only the first step in that process."

08 of 17

Alex Appears in Court

Alex Murdaugh walks into his bond hearing, in Varnville, S.C.
Alex Murdaugh. Mic Smith/AP/Shutterstock

Shortly after his arrest, Alex appeared in the Hampton County magistrate court in Varnville, S.C., for his arraignment and bond hearing.

During the hearing, Alex's attorney Dick Harpootlian acknowledged to the Hampton County judge that Alex "has fallen from grace," but argued that "before any of that falling happened, his wife and son were brutally murdered, and that has had an extraordinary effect on him."

Standing beside a tearful Alex, Harpootlian said, "We'd ask you to allow him to go and help heal himself."

The judge said that she did not believe Alex was a threat to the community, and issued him a $20,000 bond — $10,000 for insurance fraud, $5,000 for conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and $5,000 for filing a false police report.

Alex surrendered his passport to authorities and was released back into rehab.

09 of 17

A 2018 Death Is Investigated

Gloria Satterfield
Gloria Satterfield. Brice W. Herndon and Sons Funeral Home

Amid Alex's legal troubles, a new twist entered the Murdaugh mystery.

On Sept. 15, 2021, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced that it was opening an investigation into the 2018 death of the Murdaughs' housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died after what was purported at the time to be a trip-and-fall accident at the family's home in Hampton, which they have since sold.

SLED officials stated that a coroner had recently found inconsistencies surrounding Satterfield's death. The incident was not reported to the coroner in 2018, and there was no autopsy performed at the time.

Details of Satterfield's purported fall have not been disclosed. It's unclear who was at the home at the time of the incident, or who might face criminal charges.

On Sept. 15, 2021, Satterfield's sons also filed a civil lawsuit against Alex and others, claiming they never received an insurance payout in connection with their mother's death, court documents obtained by PEOPLE show.

In the lawsuit, Michael "Tony" Satterfield and Brian Harriott allege that Alex approached them after Gloria Satterfield died. They claim that Alex told them to sue him.

According to the lawsuit, Alex personally introduced Satterfield's sons to attorney Cory Fleming and recommended that he should represent them in the lawsuit.

Alex did not disclose at the time that Fleming had been his college roommate and was the godfather to one of his sons, the lawsuit alleges.

According to the complaint, Alex's insurance company agreed to a partial settlement of the claims associated with Satterfield's death in the amount of $505,000 to Satterfield's sons.

But Satterfield's sons claim that they never received their cut of the money. They hired new attorneys.

While the civil suit continues, police announced they would investigate Satterfield's death to see if there is any criminal liability in the case.

In June 2022, it was announced that investigators will exhume the body of Satterfield.

In an announcement, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) spokesperson Renee Wunderlich said that Satterfield's family agreed to the exhumation. "This is a complex process that will take weeks, not days," Wunderlich said.

10 of 17

Alex Is Arrested Again on New Charges

alex murdaugh
Alex Murdaugh. Orange County Department of Corrections

On Oct. 14, 2021, Alex was arrested again and charged with misappropriating insurance settlement funds in the wrongful death suit that followed the mysterious trip and fall death of his longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, authorities announced.

Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement took Alex into custody as he left a drug rehabilitation facility in Orlando, Fla.

He was charged with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.

"Alex intends to fully cooperate with this investigation, as he has with the investigation into the murder of his wife and son," his attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, said in a statement to PEOPLE. "He deeply regrets that his actions have distracted from the efforts to solve their murders."

11 of 17

Alex Is Revealed To Be a Person of Interest in Family's Murders

murdaugh family
Maggie, Paul and Alex Murdaugh.

A day before Alex was arrested for allegedly misappropriating insurance settlement funds, one of his lawyers revealed in an interview with Fox Carolina News that the once-prominent attorney has long been considered a person of interest in his wife and son's murders.

"SLED [South Carolina Law Enforcement Division] has said from the get-go that Alex was a person of interest," attorney Jim Griffin, who represents Alex, told the station.

Despite the revelation, Griffin insisted to Fox Carolina that his client was visiting his mother, who has dementia, at the time of the murders. "He had no motive to kill them," Griffin told the station.

"You would think that if Alex was the one who did it, that SLED would have been able to establish that pretty easily that night," Griffin continued. "You would think they would have searched his house and found blood somewhere. You would think they would have found the murder weapons on the property. You would think they would come up with something to link Alex to the murders, forensically or independent evidence. To my knowledge, they have not done that."

12 of 17

Medical Records Shut Down Claim That Alex Was Never Shot

Alex Murdaugh, Curtis Edward Smith
Alex Murdaugh, Curtis Edward Smith. Facebook; Colleton County Sheriff's Office/AP/Shutterstock

On Oct. 14, 2021, the same day of Alex's second arrest, the man accused of assisting with his botched suicide plot claimed that Alex was never actually struck by a bullet.

Curtis Smith went on Today to say that he "didn't shoot" Alex on Labor Day weekend.

Smith alleged that on Sept. 4, 2021, Alex had asked him to meet up on a rural road in Hampton.

He claimed that when he got there, Alex was holding a gun. "[Alex] said, 'You gonna shoot me?' I said, 'No,'" Smith said. "He said, 'Well, you've got to do it.' And he made this move like this, and I just grabbed his arm.

"I shoved [the gun] up behind him, between me and him. And it went off."

Smith then said he was "1,000%" sure that the bullet did not hit either of them.

In response to Smith's claims, Alex released medical records that show he was, in fact, shot in the back of the head — but just peripherally.

A "head-to-toe examination" at Memorial Health in Savannah, Ga., on Sept. 4, 2021, at 5:34 p.m., where Alex was admitted to the ICU on the trauma list, "revealed two superficial appearing bullet wounds to the posterior scalp with no active hemorrhage," the chief resident in the Department of General Surgery wrote in an addendum, the records show.

By the time Murdaugh was airlifted from Hampton, S.C., where the shooting took place, to Savannah, the bleeding from "two wounds to the back of the patient's head" was "controlled," the Hampton County EMS wrote in another of the documents.

In an email about the documents on Oct. 15, 2021, Alex's spokesperson said, "Other than providing these records, we will not be offering any other comments at this time."

13 of 17

Grand Jury Charges Alex with 48 Counts of Financial Misconduct

Alex Murdaugh walks into his bond hearing, in Varnville, S.C.
Mic Smith/AP/Shutterstock

On Nov. 18, 2021, a grand jury issued five indictments charging Alex with 27 counts of financial misconduct.

The November indictments allege that Alex stole money from his clients, other lawyers and the family of his late housekeeper.

On Dec. 9, 2021, one day before a judge was to decide whether to set bond on the charges, the grand jury issued seven more indictments accusing him of financial crimes, this time totaling 21 counts.

His 48 total charges at the time included forgery, money laundering, computer crimes, breach of trust with fraudulent intent, and obtaining signature or property by false pretenses.

The South Carolina attorney general said that Murdaugh had stolen a total of more than $6.2 million from his alleged victims.

14 of 17

Alex Faces Even More Charges

Alex Murdaugh
Alex Murdaugh. Richland County Jail

On Jan. 21, 2022, a South Carolina State Grand Jury issued four indictments consisting of 23 new charges against Alex, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced.

Those indictments charged him with 19 counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent and four counts of computer crimes.

In February 2022, Moselle, the Murdaugh estate where the double homicide took place, was put up for sale for $3.9 million.

15 of 17

Alex Indicted on Money Laundering Charges, Bringing Total to 81

murdaugh family
Hampton County Detention Center

In June 2022, Alex was indicted again, this time in connection with an alleged eight-year money laundering and painkiller ring with the former client who is accused of trying to help him commit suicide.

To that point, he faced 81 total charges.

16 of 17

Alex Murdaugh Indicted for Murders of Wife and Son

murdaugh family
Maggie, Paul and Alex Murdaugh.

On July 14, 2022, a grand jury in Colleton County, S.C., indicted Alex Murdaugh in connection with the 2021 murders of his wife and son.

Murdaugh, 54, was charged with two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

After the charges were handed down, Alex's lawyers —Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin — maintained their client's innocence in a statement to PEOPLE.

"Alex wants his family, friends and everyone to know that he did not have anything to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul. He loved them more than anything in the world," their statement reads.

"It was very clear from day one that law enforcement and the Attorney General prematurely concluded that Alex was responsible for the murder of his wife and son."

17 of 17

Alex Murdaugh Allegedly Lured Wife to Cabin On Night She Was Killed

murdaugh family
Alex and Maggie Murdaugh.

A law enforcement source close to the investigation told PEOPLE that on the night of the murders, Alex allegedly reached out to Maggie, asking her to meet him at the family's 1,770-acre estate.

According to the source, Alex told Maggie that his 81-year-old father, Randolph Murdaugh III, was in failing health and that she needed to see him before he died.

According to several sources, Maggie and Alex had hit a rough patch in their marriage, and she was staying at the family's beach house on Edisto Island, approximately an hour away from the family's estate.

The law enforcement source told PEOPLE that Maggie initially declined to meet Alex at the family home, suggesting instead that they meet at the hospital. Ultimately, she consented to meet at the property, planning to follow Alex to the hospital in her own vehicle.

On her way to the house, Maggie allegedly messaged a friend, saying that something about her husband's behavior felt "fishy," the law enforcement source says. "He's up to something," Maggie allegedly wrote to her friend.

Not long after that, Maggie and Paul were killed.

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