Alex Murdaugh charged with murder in the deaths of his wife and son

COLOMBIA, South Carolina –

Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was charged with murder Thursday in the deaths of his wife and youngest son, who were shot to death outside their home more than a year ago.

Murdaugh is already in jail and faces dozens of criminal charges that have piled up in the months since his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, were killed. But until now he had not been charged in connection with the death of his wife and son.

Indictments unsealed by a grand jury in Colleton County, where the shootings took place, allege that Murdaugh killed his wife with a rifle and his son with a shotgun. They do not include details about how police linked Murdaugh to the deaths after a 13-month investigation. More details may be released at a bond hearing, which has not been scheduled.

Murdaugh, 54, has repeatedly denied any role in the deaths, saying he was visiting his sick mother and father and found his son and wife dead when he returned to his property.

“Alex wants his family, friends and everyone to know that he had nothing to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul. He loved them more than anything in the world,” Murdaugh’s defense attorneys, Jim Griffin, said in a statement. Dick Harpootlian. .

Murdaugh was also charged Thursday with possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

Murdaugh’s family has dominated the legal scene in neighboring small Hampton County for nearly a century. Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were the area’s elected prosecutors for 87 years in a row.

Murdaugh once worked for the law firm founded by a century-old family, which he said in September was stealing money.

Throughout the investigation, state police have released few details about the case, and Thursday’s indictments were no exception. A joint statement from State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel and State Attorney General Alan Wilson said they would not comment on specific evidence because the investigation remains active and a court case is pending.

“Over the past 13 months, SLED officers and our partners have worked day in and day out to build a case against the person responsible for the Maggie and Paul murders and to exclude those who were not. At no time did the officers lose focus on this investigation,” Keel said in the statement.

Murdaugh’s attorneys said “it was very clear from day one” that law enforcement was focusing on Murdaugh and no one else. They said they want his trial to take place in the next three months,

“We know that Alex had no reason to kill them,” defense attorneys said.

If convicted of murder, Murdaugh would face 30 years to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors could also choose to seek the death penalty under state law because more than one person was killed.

The June 2021 deaths prompted authorities to investigate every corner of Murdaugh’s life. At least a half-dozen investigations have resulted in charges that he stole $8.5 million from the people who hired him and lied to police by saying he was shot by a stranger on the side of the road when, according to authorities, in fact he asked a friend to kill him. him so his surviving child could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy just days after the family business determined he was stealing money.

State police said the information they gathered in the Murdaugh investigations also led them to review what was initially reported as the hit-and-run death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith in Hampton County in July 2015, though they did not provide further details. .

Agents also exhumed the body of Murdaugh’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who the family said died in the hospital several days after a fall in 2018. Prosecutors said Murdaugh got her home insurers to pay more than $4 million in wrongful death claims in the Satterfield case. her saying that she was negotiating for her family but that she didn’t give them any of the money.

In June, Murdaugh was charged in what prosecutors said was an eight-year painkiller and money laundering ring that also involved the same friend and former client accused of trying to help him kill himself.

Murdaugh wrote 437 checks worth $2.4 million that his friend cashed over eight years, keeping some of the money for himself and turning the rest over to a wide range of illegal activities, according to indictments unsealed last month.

The South Carolina Supreme Court disbarred Murdaugh on Tuesday, confirming the inevitable after Murdaugh’s attorneys refused to contest arguments at a June disbarment hearing.

Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were shot multiple times between 9 and 9:30 p.m. on the night of June 7, 2021, outside their home on the family’s land near Islandton, authorities said. Their bodies were found near kennels, according to Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey.

At the time, authorities reported that Alex Murdaugh discovered the bodies and called 911. Murdaugh sounded deeply upset and agitated on the call, immediately identifying himself and telling the operator that “his wife and son” were shot on his property. .

“I’ve been up to it now. It’s bad,” Murdaugh said.

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