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Crime News Murders

Everything To Know About Alex Murdaugh's Surviving Son Buster

The eldest Murdaugh son supported his father, Alex Murdaugh, who was convicted for murdering Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.

By Cydney Contreras

The Murdaugh family used to be one of the most influential families in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with multiple generations serving as solicitor of the state's 14th Circuit. The family also ran a successful private law practice that wealth and privilege over the decades.

Now, however, the Murdaugh family name is associated with murder and intrigue following the conviction of Alex Murdaugh, who is currently serving two life sentences for the murders of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul Murdaugh. He also pleaded guilty to dozens of state and federal financial charges, including embezzlement and fraud. He was sentenced to 27 years for the state charges, and 40 years in the federal case, though those prison terms are largely moot given his life sentence in the murder case.

RELATED: Alex Murdaugh's Murder Trial Judge Speaks Publicly For First Time: 'The Person Who Is Killed Will Haunt'

Sitting in the crowd at his murder trial was his eldest son Richard "Buster" Murdaugh, who testified in his father's defense. Buster steadfastly supported Alex after his initial arrest, often calling him in prison to discuss a range of topics, including sports. 

Buster Murdaugh in court.

Who Is Buster Murdaugh?

Born Richard Alexander Murdaugh Jr. in April 1993, he is Alex Murdaugh's eldest son. His younger brother, Paul Murdaugh, was born six years later, in April 1999.

He goes by Buster, though his father affectionately refers to him as "Bus Bus." 

During the trial, Buster testified that his father was heavily involved in his and his brother's childhood, sharing that Alex coached the boys' Little League teams until they were in high school. His father's involvement continued after he stopped coaching them, Buster said, adding that he attended almost "every game" they played.

"If he missed one, if they had to, they would call and explain," he said, according to CourtTV footage.

After graduating from Wade Hampton High School in 2014, he went on to attend Wofford College, where he studied government and international affairs, according to the school's newspaper The Old Gold & Black. He graduated from the college in 2018, with the newspaper reporting that he told administrators he planned to work at his father's law firm before attending law school.

Was Buster Murdaugh Expelled From Law School?

He began working on his law degree at the University of South Carolina Law School. However, he was allegedly expelled from the school for plagiarism in 2021, according to court documents cited by The Wall Street Journal

While his father was in custody, Buster often called him in jail to speak about his efforts to be readmitted to the school. They had apparently hired powerful attorney Butch Bowers to help, The Post and Courier reported.

Alex was adamant that Buster prepare himself for classes this time around, telling him, "You’ve got to really buckle down. You’ve got to treat it like a job. You’re going to have to read these cases two and three times if you don’t fully understand them,” according to phone calls cited by the Post and Courier.

However, Buster hasn't resumed his studies. "He has put his desire to go to law school on hold for now,” Murdaugh family attorney Jim Griffin told The Post and Courier. "There is no plan for him to start school in the fall or in the spring."

Buster Murdaugh testifies during his father's trial

What Did Buster Murdaugh Testify At His Father's Trial?

In addition to describing his father's reaction to his brother and mother's murders, Buster testified to his knowledge of his father's opioid addiction, telling the jury he only knew "a little bit" about the situation. He said that his mother or brother were the ones to discover his father's pills, after which Alex went to a detox facility at the end of 2018. 

"I thought that handled it," he said. "There were a couple more times after the fact where they would go into this, finding pills, all that stuff. He did a few kind of at-home, self-detox a couple times. I thought once he did that, he'd get off of them. That was my general knowledge of it all."

Because Buster was at college during this time, he said that he didn't have direct knowledge of what was going on, other than his father being "apologetic."

He was also questioned about Paul's boating crash, in which Mallory Beach drowned. Buster remembered Paul being "bullied" on social media by people blaming him for her death. 

As for his mother, Maggie, Buster said that the boat crash "consumed" her because she couldn't help but read the media coverage.

"When she read the stuff, it made her feel upset and whatnot. It ultimately kind of caused her to distance herself from Hampton (where the Murdaughs had a home)," he said. "She thought there was a bad vibe in Hampton. She felt like people were staring at her and talking about her and stuff."

Buster added that his mother was particularly worried about the money they'd potentially have to pay in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the Beach family. In contrast, he said, his father "didn't appear to be overly anxious" about it. 

Despite his mother's concerns, the family rallied around Paul, who was facing criminal charges in the crash, because Buster said they didn't think he was driving the boat at the time of the crash.

Who Is Buster Murdaugh's Girlfriend Brooklynn White?

Throughout the trial, Buster was supported by girlfriend Brooklynn White, who grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina, according to the New York Post. She later relocated to Alabama for college, where she majored in Political Science and minored in Computer Science, according to her bio on the Olivetti, McCray and Withrow law firm's site. She went on to obtain her law degree from the University of South Carolina Law School.

"I went to law school because I always had a desire to help people work through complex issues. I find it rewarding to help others," she wrote in the bio. 

White now specializes in estate planning, probate, and trust administration, writing that she believes "not planning for the inevitable is the biggest mistake many people make." 

"As an attorney, I believe it is important to work through estate planning not only with compassion, but in a timely and organized way," the bio continues. "Doing such makes the topic many clients dread surprisingly enjoyable."

Where Is Buster Murdaugh Now?

During the trial, Buster testified that he has moved to Rock Hill, South Carolina to live with his girlfriend Brooklynn. The pair have seemingly relocated to Hilton Head, where they were photographed walking White's dog Miller following the trial, according to the New York Post.

The duo has apparently been hounded by the media, with Buster filing a police report about people following them, according to local news outlet WTOC. White later called the police to report another incident of stalking.

The Murdaugh family's homes were sold in recent years, including the Moselle hunting grounds where Maggie and Paul were murdered. The rural property sold for around $3.9 million, but a majority of the sale will be directed to survivors of the boating crash, the New York Post reported citing court documents. Buster was expected to receive $530,000.

Speaking in the Fox Nation docuseries "The Fall of the House of Murdaugh," released in August 2023, Buster reiterated his belief in his father's innocence, but had a surprising response when asked directly if his father was a psychopath. 

“I’m not prepared to sit here and say that it encompasses him as a whole," Buster said, "but I certainly think there are characteristics where you look at the manipulation and the lies and the carrying out of that such, and I think that’s a fair assessment."

How Did Buster Murdaugh Know Stephen Smith?

Buster went to high school with Stephen Smith a 19-year-old nursing student who, in 2015, was found dead on a rural road in Hampton County just 15 miles from the Murdaugh family estate, Oxygen.com previously reported. His death was ruled a hit and run, though no one was ever arrested in connection to the incident.

Then, following the deaths of Maggie and Paul, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) reopened the investigation into Smith's death in June 2021. SLED spokesperson Tommy Crosby said the decision was "based upon information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh," offering no further details.

Stephen Smith Pd

Since then, Smith's family has offered a $35,000 reward in exchange "for information leading to the arrest of any responsible party in the death of Stephen Smith."

Smith's body was also exhumed for a second autopsy, which private investigator and forensic expert Dr. Kenneth Kinsey, who was hired by the Smith family, said was a "success."

"I do know it was a success, they say they did collect evidence, it was very good documentation, and everybody was upbeat about the information that was collected," Dr. Kinsey told NewsNation in April. "And that's not always the situation when you exhume someone after so many years."

No further information has been announced in the case.

Buster has spoken out regarding rumors of his ties to Smith, insisting he had nothing to do with his death. 

"These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false," Buster Murdaugh said in a statement in March. "I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family."

He continued, "I have tried my best to ignore the vicious rumors about my involvement in Stephen Smith’s tragic death that continue to be published in the media as I grieve over the brutal murders of my mother and brother."

Ronnie Richter, an attorney for the Smith family, stated that the family just wants answers. "This is not about Buster Murdaugh, so, this is about Stephen Smith. There's no reason to discuss Buster Murdaugh and there's no comment to make back to Buster Murdaugh," Richter stated. 

You can watch the Oxygen special "Alex Murdaugh. Death. Deception. Power." on Oxygen.com or Peacock.

Originally published May 2, 2023.

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