Alex Murdaugh Stands Accused Of Killing His Married Woman In Addition To Boy. That’S Just Scratching The Surface.
While the most gripping true criminal offense stories select us into the darkest parts of the soul, rarely does a instance open up the ugly pump of the land itself. The labyrinthine case that’s come up to be dubbed “the Murdaugh murders” feels like 1 that could exclusively pass inward America — a tale of generational powerfulness as well as corruption. This is a Southern Gothic morality play near a wealthy but fadingSouthern family unit whose huge amounts of wealth as well as influence fueled a jaw-dropping spree of recklessness, greed, as well as murder.
What one article aptly called “a lot of dead people and law-breaking” involves the Murdaugh (pronounced “Murdock”) family, which has amassed power too wealth inward South Carolina for over100 years. But that century of power has crumbled inwards just one-half a decade due to a long list of fiscal crimes together with 5 suspicious deaths showtime inward 2015: an alleged homophobic detest law-breaking; a deadly boating accident; a mysterious fall and insurance scam; the double murder of the family matriarch too favorite son; and a bizarre roadside incident that may have been some other insurance scam. The whole tangled spider web culminated inward therecent indictment inward a South Carolina county courtroom of the floundering patriarch, Alex Murdaugh, for the 2021 murders of his wife together with boy — bringing the total number of charges he is facing to over lxxx.
Murdaugh pleaded not guilty to the murder charges on July 20, setting the stage for what volition likely be a bombshell trial, scheduled to start January 23, accompanied by a media circus. That’s due inwardscomponent to a striking podcast that began every bit ane local journalist’s effort to take attending to the example. Now the Murdaugh murders hold get a national truthful criminal offence obsession. The trial, expected to final virtually 10 weeks, volition probable include even more than headline-grabbing twists.
Ready to dive into the details? You might want an oxygen tank for this i; equally you lot mightiness expect from but this summary, these are black waters.
Meet the Murdaughs
The Murdaughs have got wielded power over South Carolina’s “Lowcountry,” the lush, mossy wedge at the bottom of the state, for over 100 years — e’er since Randolph Murdaugh Sr. founded his law role inwards Hampton Countyin 1910.
The firm eventually grew into a large, powerful practice continued past his boy, Randolph Jr., too his grandson, Randolph III. From 1920 to 2006, all three men also successively held the mail of solicitor (a.k.a.prosecutor) for South Carolina’s 14th Circuit Court. The Murdaughs’ 86-twelvemonth stretch serving every bit circuit solicitors was the longest such family unit legacy inward United States history. As yous might imagine, it also gave the family unit an unprecedented amount of power in addition to influence, non simply over Hampton County but over the other fourcounties nether the circuit’s jurisdiction.
Randolph IV and Alex, 2 of Randolph III’s sons, followed inward their male parent’s footsteps together with became lawyers. Because South Carolina eventually prohibited lawyers from serving in the conflicting dual roles of world prosecutor and individual attorney,the men didn’t serve equally solicitors — but silent served equally “volunteer” prosecutors assisting their male parent patch continuing the family unit’s law practice. The solicitor’s office ultimately fired Alex, as well as the family unit law house changed its refer from Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth and Detrick, ordinarilyshortened to PMPED, to Parker Law Group earlier this yr, probable to escape the growing stigma of the Murdaugh bring up — especially its association with Alex Murdaugh.
Alex, pronounced “Alec,” was a golden child who sired golden children. Born in 1967, he followed inward his family’s footsteps as well as studied law at the University of South Carolina, where he met athlete-turned-sorority-sis Margaret “Maggie” Branstetter. They married in 1993 together with subsequently had two sons, Buster, bornin 1996, and Paul, born in 1999. The family lived inwards opulence, dividing their fourth dimension amid a beach theater, a span of individual islands, together with a massive 1,772-acre estate known equally Moselle — which, like the law house, wasrenamed to escape its connections with the Murdaughs.
But the family unit also lived lives of hedonism; Alex in addition to both of his sons would human face accusations of drug and alcohol addiction in addition to wild, out-of-command behavior inwards the atomic number 82-up to the serial of crimes. In particular, Alex’s years of extravagant living led to alitany of alleged financial crimes including fraud, embezzlement, as well as multiple attempted insurance scams — all of it adding upwards to an alleged $8.5 one thousand thousand inwards theft too leading to multiple homicides.
The Murdaughs’ powerarguably hindered the initial and follow-up investigations into these deaths, leading to accusations of embrace-ups in addition to corruption. Ultimately, what began equally assort investigations into sort crimes would knot themselves into an interconnected spider web of tragedy. These deaths — all dramatically dissimilar but all potentially linked past the Murdaughs — reflected something of thechaos the Murdaughs brought with them, despite their stature too reputation.
2015: The decease of Stephen Smith
On July 8, 2015, xix-yr-old Hampton student Stephen Smith phoned his mother to tell her he’d run out of gas. Later that night he was constitute lying in the middle of the road miles away from his truck. He’d died of blunt force trauma, as well as his body had been “set out in the middle of the road like a snowfall angel,”according to his female parent.
Authorities with the South Carolina Highway Patrol initially assumed Stephen was the victim of a hitting-as well as-run after leaving his truck too walking to get gas, in addition to closed the case accordingly, despitenumerous observations past constabulary that suggested Smith’s death was a homicide. But police force also later noted that the scene looked staged, tootown gossip began to swirl that Smith, who was rumored to live dating Buster Murdaugh at the time, had been the victim of a hate criminal offense or that the Murdaugh brothers had a role inwards his decease.
In June 2021, whilethe South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED, was investigating the other murders related to the Murdaugh family, authorities reopened the investigation into Smith’s death, issuing a argument implying they were somehow connected. So far no charges or indictments have been issued, but the investigation is silent open up, too Smith’s female parent hasstated that the latest indictments into the other murders give her “promise that nosotros volition get justice.”
2018: The decease of Gloria Satterfield — too a whole lot of fraud
On February 2, 2018, the Murdaughs’ longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, suffered a severe head injury at the Moselle estate and died on February 26 of complications includinga stroke. The drive of her expiry is unclear, since the coroner was never notified as well as Satterfield’s body was never autopsied; regime later paradoxically described her death equally both “natural” as well as resulting from an accidental trip in addition to fall.
Still, Satterfield’s death might non live just suspicious had it not been for what came side by side:According to multiple criminal indictments as well as multiplelawsuits, Alex Murdaugh as well as 2 other men, banker Chad Westendorf in addition to fellow attorney Cory Fleming, so conspired to steal Satterfield’s $4.3 1000000 insurance policy by misleading Satterfield’s sons and diverting all the funds to Alex himself through a phony business concern Alex created called “Forge” — an irony, since Murdaugh wouldlater live charged with multiple counts of forgery. As portion of the scam, Alex convinced Satterfield’s sons to sue him for liability so that they would be able to receive a hefty liability small town. But he then kept all the money for himself.
The Satterfield insurance scam was just i ofa laundry list of instances where Alex embezzled as well as defrauded money from clients at his law firm, ordinarily past settling their cases for large sums of money in addition to and so failing to tell them almost it piece he spent the customer’s village payout on himself. He repeated the same design with, amongst others,Hakeem Pinckney, a college football role player who became quadriplegic following an auto accident. Pinckney died inwards 2011, too his family never saw the more than $750,000 payout.
In Satterfield’s example, Alex evinced additional suspicious behaviour around her expiry, including arriving on the scene before the EMTs too insisting he heard Satterfield say his dogs caused her autumn, contradicting her own statement later that she had no idea what caused it.
Satterfield’s sons were ultimately ableto recover more than $6.5 1000000 from subsequent lawsuits; meanwhile, regime received permission to exhume Satterfield’s trunk inwards June 2022 inward society to continue the criminal investigation into her decease.
2019: The decease of Mallory Beach
Mystery still surrounds the death of Mallory Beach, butane matter is clear: Without the events of Feb 24, 2019, we mightiness non fifty-fifty live talking about the Murdaughs today.
That eventide, nineteen-twelvemonth-old Paul Murdaugh in addition to a group of friends were returning to the Murdaugh estate by boat after a dark of partying. According to nearly all witnesses introduce,Paul insisted on piloting the boat himself despite being extremely intoxicated. He was reportedly in a belligerent, angry state too refused to surrender the bicycle, driving erratically and also fast along i of the area’s manytwisting waterways. At some betoken during the early morning time hours, Paul crashed the boat into Archers Creek Bridge, ejecting multiple passengers from the boat, including xix-yr-old Mallory Beach. It took a calendar week for regime to recover Beach’s trunk.
Despite the clear signs of intoxication, even so, regimefailed to record his intoxication levels at the scene; at the hospital later that dark, multiple witnesses confirmed that Paul was silent boozer and uncooperative. They also observed that Alex Murdaugh arrived at the hospital as well as began to threaten as well as try to coerce witnesses there, encouraging them to stick to a version of events thatcleared Paul of wrongdoing; i witness described the atmosphere every bit “a weird, corny teen drama.”
Mallory Beach’s death led to a flurry oflawsuits in addition to a criminal investigation focusing on Paul Murdaugh. The Beach instance also coincided with growing fiscal troubles for Alex Murdaugh as well as suspicion near his many fraudulent activities, and later courtroom documentsrevealed a man who seemed desperate toshift blame away from his boy. Instead, inward 2019, Paul was charged with 3 criminal counts of felony boating nether the influence; he eventuallypleaded not guilty.
Beach’s family sued the entire Murdaugh family, more or less, for her wrongful decease, alleging that Alex Murdaugh together with his blood brother Randolph, together with Paul Murdaugh together with his blood brother Buster, had conspired to encompass upwards the campaign of her death.Community members also accused the Murdaughs of using their powerfulness as well as influence to delay the trial. In the atomic number 82-up to the trial, no less than iii different law officials recused themselves because of their shut ties to theMurdaugh family.
In June 2021, Paul Murdaugh was just days away from what would have got been a costly together with expensive trial for Beach’s expiry. He would never make it to the court date.
2021: The deaths of Maggie together with Paul Murdaugh — and a bottomless fallout
During the summertime of 2021, more than together with more populace involvement grew around Paul Murdaugh’s upcoming trial. After thirty years, Maggie Murdaugh was estranged from her hubby Alex, living at the family unit’sbeach house as well as reportedly looking into divorce. Alex was cervix-deep inward fraud schemes whose payouts were dwindling, facing a costly divorce and potentially steep legal fees for his son. He also claimed to be battling what he later described equally a 20-yr opioid addiction.
On June vii, 2021, Alex Murdaugh reportedly lured Maggie to Moselle, prompting her to text a friend that Alex was acting “fishy”; “he’s upwardly to something,” she allegedly wrote to her friend. Upon arriving at the estate, Maggie met her boy Paul at the family unit’s dog kennels. While they were in that location, female parent together with boy were gunned downwardly withii different weapons — Maggie with an assault-style rifle, Paul with a shotgun. Alex appeared on the scene before long afterward as well as called 911 to written report the deaths. An autopsy laterconfirmed both died of multiple gunshot wounds.
The double homicide of the Murdaughs caused Alex Murdaugh’s theatre of cards to collapse. He directly savage under suspicion for the murders, as well as the instance made national headlines. Three days after the murders,his male parent, Randolph III, died. On September 3, 2021, Murdaughresigned from the family unit’s law firm after the firm confronted him over his years of suspected embezzlement. The house later sued him, in addition to law enforcement opened its owncriminal investigation into the alleged fraud.
The next 24-hour interval, on September 4, 2021, Alex called911 to study a foreign roadside incident in which he claimed to hold blown a tire. When a stranger stopped to assist him, Alex reported, they shot him inwards the head instead. Though someone clearly shot too grazed Alex in the head, fifty-fifty witnesses at the scene didn’t believe his story; “it sort of looks similar a setup, so we didn’t halt,” ane 911 callerreported.
On September xiv, Alex gave upwards the existent plot: He’d intended to hold a friend shoot as well as kill him therefore that his surviving boy, Buster, could receive Alex’s $10 million life insurance payout. Authorities promptly arrestedMurdaugh too his accomplice, Alex’s alleged drug supplier and onetime customer Curtis Smith, charging Smith with assisted suicide and both men with conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. Alex’s law license was right awaysuspended, as well as he was later disbarred.
Alexposted bond as well as checked himself into a drug rehab middle, only to bearrested for felony fraud charges in the Satterfield example when he emerged. This fourth dimension, his bail was denied and his assets werefrozen.
By now, the instance was a national sensation making regular mainstream headlines — inwards large constituent cheers to ane local journalist. Mandy Matney had allegedly alienated her onetime tidings outlet past pursuing the Murdaugh example inward more than depth than her editors wanted. In 2020, she joined the South Carolina website FITSNews.com only hence she could encompass theMurdaughs. Days after the murders of Maggie together with Paul, Matney as well as FITS launched the Murdaugh Murders podcast, which broke downwards the voluminous example slice past piece — starting with what she dubbed “South Carolina’s Chappaquiddick.”
The podcast was hence successful itreportedly ranked amongst the earth’s elevation podcasts inwards 2021; it’s currently beingness developed as a true law-breaking drama serial for a partitioning of Universal. HBO Max is also developing atruthful law-breaking documentary series most the instance. The more attention Matney drew to the example, the more than investigators appeared to ramp upwardly their own piece of work. Between November 2021 together with July 2022, dozens of indictments were doled out against Alex Murdaugh and his co-conspirators. Communityaccusations leveled against the family unit for abusing its influence continued likewise, equally yet another solicitor recused himself from the instance, and showallegedly connecting Alex to the double murders was suppressed from the world. “You’ll know a Murdaugh did it if no one is arrested,”ran one apocryphal Facebook comment.
On July xiv, 2022, nonetheless, Alex Murdaugh was indicted for the double homicide of his wife too son. “Today is ane more than step inwards a long procedure for justice for Maggie in addition to Paul,”said Mark Keel, head of South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division.
But Alex Murdaugh plainly doesn’t intend to make the procedure easy. On July 20, hepleaded non guilty, inward what will likely be the firstly of many controversial courtroom proceedings. With attorneys filing for gag orders inward the instance in addition to thecommunity arguing for transparency, the spectacle virtually to unfold may give onlookers a glimpse into what that century of accumulated power has actually achieved. Will Murdaugh, with his high-powered state senator attorney, live able to convince a jury of his innocence? What would that say almost South Carolina’s pocket-size-town political landscape?
The murders surrounding the Murdaugh family already seem to hold revealed a jurist organisation that turned a blind eye piece Alex Murdaughcommitted felonies for years — to say nothing of murder. For thus long, the Murdaughs were allowed to dominion their corner of the globe because they knew that arrangement in a means most people don’t, even every bit their exercise of those privileges drove themselves in addition to those around them to ruin. Questions silent rest regarding the deaths of Stephen Smith and Gloria Satterfield, along with the extent in addition to total nature of Alex Murdaugh’s long list of fraudulent activities. Though the murders of Paul and MaggieMurdaugh may live headed toward resolution, they’re simply one aspect of a case that will probable hold many twists as well as turns to come up.
Update, January 17, 2023, xi am: This story was originally published inward August 2022 too has been updated with novel details about Alex Murdaugh’s trial.
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