The true-life story sounds almost too outrageous to be a TV movie plot. A prominent attorney is accused of killing his wife and son, staging his own murder, and committing roughly 100 crimes.
What did Alex Murdaugh do to lead to more than 100 criminal charges against him?
Murder at the Murdaugh’s
On June 7, 2021, Alex Murdaugh called 911. Murdaugh was a prominent local attorney, and his family was well-known in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina. Murdaugh’s family had a long history in politics. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were each elected as top prosecutors in the area.
The community was shocked to learn that Murdaugh called 911 to report that he had found his wife, Margaret Murdaugh, and their youngest son, Paul Murdaugh, 22, shot and killed in the yard around their home.
Murdaugh says he was not home at the time of the killings, and no one was initially charged in the murder.
A Roadside Shooting
Three months after the murders, another shooting occurred. On September 4, 2021, Murdaugh said he pulled over to the side of the road when his black Mercedes-Benz SUV got a flat tire. He said a truck passed by, turned around, and then fired shots at him.
A bullet hit Murdaugh in the head, causing a non-life-threatening injury.
Within two weeks, authorities announced they had a suspect in the shooting — and that they believed the roadside shooting was planned by Murdaugh.
Authorities alleged that Murdaugh hired a man to kill him so his older son could collect his life insurance policy. The man who shot Murdaugh, Curtis Edward Smith, was arrested on charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
On September 16, Murdaugh was also arrested.
He was charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report.
Before Murdaugh was charged, he released a statement saying he was entering rehab and resigning from his family’s law firm. On the same day, his firm — Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrickhe — released a statement that said Murdaugh was accused of misappropriating company funds.
A Slip and Fall Leads to a Death (and Criminal Charges)
Years before the shootings, another death occurred at Murdaugh’s home.
In 2018, the Murdaugh’s long-time housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield died in what was described as a “trip and fall accident” at the family’s home.
At the time, Murdaugh told Satterfield’s sons he would file a personal injury lawsuit on their behalf. Murdaugh said he would sue himself to collect on his personal liability insurance and then provide funds to the sons.
According to reports, Murdaugh made a secret deal without the son’s knowledge and may have collected up to $4.3 million. The sons should have received more than $2.7 million from the deal, but Murdaugh is accused of keeping it all, according to reports by NBC News.
On October 14, 2021, an investigation into the case led to Murdaugh being charged with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses and being arrested.
Murdaugh’s Long List of Criminal Charges
The charges were just the beginning. Over the next few months, Murdaugh was charged with almost 100 more crimes, according to reporting by NBC News.
Murdaugh was charged with a variety of crimes involving fraud and financial crimes, along with two counts of murder.
- November 19, 2021: 27 charges that include breach of trust with fraudulent intent, obtaining signature or property by false pretenses, money laundering, computer crimes and forgery
- December 9, 2021: 21 charges that include breach of trust with fraudulent intent, computer crimes, money laundering, and forgery
- January 21, 2022: 23 charges that include breach of trust with fraudulent intent and computer crimes
- March 16, 2022: 4 charges related to a scheme to defraud multiple insurance companies
- May 4, 2022: 4 charges related to financial crimes
- June 28, 2022: 2 charges related to criminal conspiracy and narcotics offenses (Curtis Edward Smith, who shot Murdaugh, was charged with Murdaugh and accused of conspiring to purchase and distribute oxycodone.)
- July 14, 2022: 2 charges for the murder of Murdaugh’s wife and son
- August 19, 2022: 9 charges related to money laundering and computer crimes
- December 16, 2022: 9 charges related to tax evasion
Most notable among the many charges against Mudaugh were the two counts of murder.
Murdaugh Charged with Murder, Facing Trial and Life In Prison
Murdaugh is currently on trial for the murder of his wife and son.
As of February 6, 2023, the trial entered its third week. Prosecutors had called more than 20 witnesses from a growing list of 255 potential witnesses, according to USA Today.
If convicted on the murder charges, Murdaugh faces 30 years to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors did not choose to seek the death penalty.
Get Expert Legal Advice
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