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What Happened To Alex Murdaugh? Everything You Need To Know About Disgraced Attorney
Alex Murdaugh's dramatic fall from grace ended with him being convicted of his wife Maggie and son Paul's 2021 murders, netting him a sentence of life in prison without parole.
A little after 10 p.m. on June 7, 2021, prominent South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh placed a frantic call to 911 dispatchers. He said he had just arrived home to his family’s hunting compound in Colleton County and encountered a horrific scene — his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul, lay dead on the ground by the property’s dog kennels, each killed by a gunshot.
“It’s bad,” he told dispatchers, urging them to “please hurry.”
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division was called in to investigate, but didn’t name a suspect for more than a year. In that time, the case took so many twists and turns that it became hard to keep track of, even for the most ardent true crime enthusiasts:
There was the revelation that Paul, 22, faced criminal charges for allegedly piloting and crashing a boat while intoxicated, causing the death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
There was renewed scrutiny on the death of Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, who sustained a fatal head injury in an alleged “trip and fall” accident at the family’s home in 2018, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting. She died 10 days later, but her death was never reported to the coroner and an autopsy never performed. In addition, her two sons, Michael Satterfield and Brian Harriott, said Alex Murdaugh put them in touch with an attorney friend of his, Cory Fleming, in order to sue Murdaugh’s insurer for the accidental death. Though they reached a $4.3 million settlement, the sons’ attorney said they never received a dime of the money, with Murdaugh and Fleming allegedly pocketing it. (They subsequently sued Murdaugh, who agreed in December 2021 to pay them the settlement amount, according to South Carolina news outlet WPDE.)
There were further allegations that Murdaugh had been stealing money from his law firm and clients, for which he is still facing an active criminal case involving nearly 100 charges.
There was the bizarre September 2021 incident in which Murdaugh reported being the victim of a roadside shooting. Murdaugh suffered a graze wound to the head in the incident, which he originally told authorities was a random act of violence inflicted while he was changing a flat tire. Authorities later alleged that he staged the whole thing, recruiting a former client and distant cousin, Curtis Edward Smith, to kill him in what amounted to an assisted suicide plot, allegedly so his surviving son, Buster, would be able to cash in on his $10 million life insurance policy, which wouldn’t have been paid out if Murdaugh took his own life. Murdaugh and Smith were both indicted in the case.
And there was the revelation, made by Murdaugh’s attorneys in the wake of the September shooting, that Murdaugh had struggled for decades with an opioid addiction.
But the real shocker came on July 14, 2022, when South Carolina authorities announced that they did indeed have a suspect in Maggie and Paul’s murders — and it was Alex Murdaugh himself.
Who Is Alex Murdaugh?
Alex Murdaugh is a member of a prominent legal dynasty in the South Carolina Lowcountry. In 1910, his great grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh, Sr., founded the law firm that would become Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, for which generations of Murdaughs would work, including Alex, over the next century, according to WJCL.
Not only did the Murdaugh clan have their private practice, but in 1920, Randolph was elected solicitor for the state’s 14th Circuit. The position was essentially a prosecutor overseeing several counties in South Carolina. Alex’s grandfather and father also held that position, up until the latter retired in 2006. Alex served as a volunteer prosecutor in that office, for approximately 20 years, as he would describe at his trial.
Did Alex Murdaugh Kill His Wife And Son?
Alex Murdaugh’s trial for the double murder of Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, began in January 2023. Since being charged the previous July, he consistently denied being responsible. He initially told investigators he wasn’t even at the scene when the killings took place, having been out visiting his ailing mother, who lived 15 to 20 minutes away. When he returned to the Colleton County property at around 10 p.m., he found Maggie and Paul dead, he said. Paul had suffered a fatal shotgun wound; Maggie had been killed with an assault-style rifle.
At trial, however, prosecutors played video obtained from Paul’s phone that had been taken at around 8:44 p.m. the night of the murders. He was at the dog kennels with his mother and one other person’s voice could be heard in the background. Multiple witnesses testified that the voice was unmistakably Alex’s, upending the timeline of events he’d given to authorities.
In something of a surprise, Alex Murdaugh took the stand himself and admitted to lying to authorities about his whereabouts that night. He was, indeed at the kennels, as the video appeared to prove. But he insisted that he left soon after to visit his mother, denying killing his wife and son. Murdaugh said he lied because he became paranoid while under questioning from investigators, blaming his opioid addiction for clouding his mind, and noting he’d developed a deep suspicion of SLED.
His defense team sought to cast doubt on the investigation, arguing that authorities hadn’t properly maintained the crime scene, or the evidence it contained, undermining any conclusions they’d drawn from it. They also put forth the theory that there had to have been more than one attacker that night, given the fact that Maggie and Paul were killed with two separate firearms.
In the end, the jury was unconvinced. On March 2, after deliberating for less than three hours, they found Alex Murdaugh guilty of murder in the deaths of Maggie and Paul.
Why Did Alex Murdaugh Kill His Wife And Son?
Prosecutors argued that Murdaugh’s drug addiction fueled his alleged financial crimes, but that the tangle of deceptions was quickly coming undone, placing him under enormous scrutiny and pressure. His attorneys estimated at trial that he spent around $50,000 a week on drugs, arguing that the enormous sums could have provided motive for unnamed drug associates to target the Murdaugh family. Alternatively, they offered up the theory that someone angry over the fatal boating accident that Paul had been involved in had targeted the 22-year-old.
But prosecutors argued that the expensive drug habit only deepened a financial hole that Murdaugh attempted to steal his way out of. Jeanne Seckinger, the chief financial officer of his law firm, for example, testified that on the day of the murders, she had confronted Murdaugh about $2.8 million in missing funds. In addition, there was an ongoing civil lawsuit related to the boating accident Paul was involved in. The family of victim Mallory Beach was seeking a $10 million settlement. Their attorney Mark Tinsley testified that he’d been told Alex Murdaugh was struggling financially and would only be able to scrape together $1 million. Another round of settlement negotiations was scheduled for June 10, 2021, three days after the murders.
Prosecutors contended that with all the financial pressure mounting, Murdaugh murdered his wife and son to gain sympathy and time as his alleged web of lies began to quickly unravel.
Drawing a parallel between the murders and Murdaugh’s alleged assisted suicide plot in September 2021, prosecutor Creighton Walters told the court, “There’s a symmetry between what happens on the side of the road and what happens on June 7, because when the hounds are at the door, when Hannibal is at the gates for Alex Murdaugh, violence happens.”
Where Is Alex Murdaugh Now?
Alex Murdaugh first surrendered to authorities on Sept. 16, 2021 on charges related to the roadside shooting incident, according to NBC News. He was granted bond, but was ordered to surrender his passport and enter a drug rehabilitation program.
On Oct. 14, 2021, he was arrested again, this time on charges related to the Satterfield settlement case, according to NBC News. He was initially denied bond and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. His bond was ultimately set at $7 million, but he was unable to come up with the money and remained in Richland County Jail.
After his indictment on murder charges on July 14, 2022, Alex Murdaugh was ordered held without bond. After being convicted of murdering Maggie and Paul, he received a sentence of life in prison without parole. He is still awaiting trial on nearly 100 other charges, including insurance fraud and tax evasion, according to the Associated Press.
He was formally disbarred in South Carolina on July 13, 2022.