South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh charged with killing his wife and son

Alex Murdaugh, the fourth-generation lawyer whose family has long held power and influence in a rural South Carolina strip, was charged Thursday with killing his wife and one of his sons on the estate. lone hunter from the family in a murder mystery that has remained unsolved. for more than a year.

Mr Murdaugh, 54, has been charged with two counts of murder, with prosecutors saying he killed his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, with a gun and his son Paul Murdaugh, 22, with a shotgun , June 7, 2021. Alex Murdaugh had called 911 that night from the family estate in Islandton, about 65 miles west of Charleston, saying he had returned home to find his wife and son dead near his kennel.

State police and the South Carolina attorney general, who investigated the case, did not release any new details about the murders, which stunned the state’s legal community and captured attention. amateur sleuths across the country.

Lawyers for Mr. Murdaugh said in a statement on Thursday that Mr. Murdaugh was innocent of the crimes and loved his wife and son “more than anything in the world”.

“Alex wants his family, friends and everyone to know that he had nothing to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul,” the attorneys said. They said the police had approached Mr Murdaugh prematurely and that he had no motive to kill them.

The murders immediately put the Murdaugh family and the deaths of several people associated with them, as well as the family’s influence in the region, under scrutiny. Mr. Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather had each served as the lead prosecutor in a vast area at the southern end of the state known as the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Police have begun to re-examine the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, a 19-year-old man who was found along a road about 10 miles from the Murdaugh home and allegedly hit by a truck, as well as the death by Gloria Satterfield in 2018, a housekeeper who worked for the Murdaugh family and died after falling on the front porch of their home. Police said last month they planned to exhume Ms Satterfield’s body. They have not accused anyone of wrongdoing in either death.

The murders also focus on a fatal boating accident in 2019, which prosecutors say happened while Paul Murdaugh was at the wheel. Prosecutors had charged Paul Murdaugh with driving the boat drunk onto a bridge in 2019, killing one of many passengers, Mallory Beach, and he was still facing those charges when he was killed.

Ms Beach’s family had sued Alex Murdaugh, arguing he was partly responsible for the accident because he knew his son was drinking when he was underage. At the time of the murders, Ms Beach’s family lawyer had urged a judge to force Alex Murdaugh to hand over documents related to her financial situation.

Shortly after the 2021 murders, Alex Murdaugh’s life began to deteriorate further as those around him began accusing him of years of financial corruption. The law firm where he worked, founded by his great-grandfather more than a century ago, said in September that Mr Murdaugh stole millions of dollars from the firm.

The day after he was forced to resign from the company, police say he had one of his distant cousins ​​kill him on the side of the road and stage the scene. act as if it were murder so that his other son, Buster, could collect on his life insurance policy. The plan failed – Mr Murdaugh was apparently injured in the shooting but not seriously injured – and he and cousin, Curtis Edward Smith, were charged with multiple crimes in connection with the scheme.

In the months that followed, Mr Murdaugh was charged with a series of financial crimes, including pocketing $2.8 million in settlement funds that were supposed to go to relatives of Ms Satterfield as part of a a wrongful death lawsuit for his fall on Mr Murdaugh. property. He admitted last month that he owed his sons $4.3 million.

The fallout went further when two associates of Mr Murdaugh – a lawyer and a former chief executive of a South Carolina bank – were charged this year with various crimes of conspiracy and financial fraud in what prosecutors have described as embezzlement schemes to benefit Mr Murdaugh. In total, Mr Murdaugh was charged with fraudulently pocketing around $8.5 million, according to the South Carolina attorney general.

This month, Mr Murdaugh and Mr Smith, his distant cousin, were charged with conspiracy for what prosecutors said were years of money laundering linked to the distribution of oxycodone. Mr Murdaugh said last year he suffered from drug addiction and had checked himself into a drug treatment center in Florida, but was arrested at the center in October for financial crimes relating to trust funds settlement in the case of Mrs. Satterfield. Since then, he has been imprisoned in South Carolina.

This week, shortly after news emerged he was likely to be charged with the murder of his wife and son, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered that he be disbarred by admitting that he owed money to Mrs. Satterfield’s family, which he had stolen from his law. firm and had attempted to fake his own murder.

The murders brought massive attention to Hampton County, a rural area of ​​about 18,000 people where the Murdaugh family legal dynasty had operated since 1910, and became the subject of several remaining true-crime podcasts and documentaries. in preparation for.

Chief Mark Keel of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said in a statement Thursday that officers had remained focused on the investigation for the past 13 months and were determined to identify a perpetrator.

“Today is one more step in a long process of justice for Maggie and Paul,” Chief Keel said.

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