Murdaugh Family Murders explained, what you need to know

by Ana Lopez

Update, March 2, 2023: After three hours of deliberation on Thursday night, a jury found Alex Murdaugh guilty of the murders of his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul, on June 7, 2021.

Murdaugh continues to face a host of serious charges, including money laundering, insurance fraud and alleged misappropriation of funds from a plea deal related to the death of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. He will be sentenced on March 3, 2023 for the murder of his wife and son.

The story of the Murdaugh murders stems from a 100-year-old legal family dynasty in Hampton, South Carolina, passed into the hands of fourth-generation attorney Alex Murdaugh.

But what took a century to build collapsed in June 2021, when Alex called authorities after finding his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and youngest son, Paul Murdaugh, shot to death in their 770-acre hunting lodge on Moselle Road 4147 in Islandton. South Carolina.

These crimes led to a series of revelations about the family, which HBO Max unpacked in the new true crime documentary, Lowland: The Murdaugh Dynastywhich aired on November 3. Followed by another true crime series based on the once prestigious family Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal which will be released on Netflix on February 22.

Image credit: Courtesy of Maggie Murdaugh via Facebook.

Now Alex sits in the same courthouse where generations of Murdaughs have made the law ready to stand trial for murderwith jury selection from 23 January.

“Murdaugh will not be chained during the trial, which begins Monday in Colleton County,” a Public radio in South Carolina reported. “He faces life in prison if convicted. Meanwhile, a portrait of his grandfather hanging in the courtroom will be removed.”

Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about the case and the Murdaugh family.

Who is the Murdaugh family?

The Murdaugh family started in South Carolina at the turn of the century and still is prominent attorneys in the state decades. Starting with Alex Murdaugh’s great-grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh Sr., who started Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick by 1910, generations of his family have continued to work with the company, including his son, Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh II, grandson, Randolph Murdaugh III, and his great-great-grandsons Randolph “Randy” Murdaugh IV and Alex Murdaugh.

The company was successful in personal injury litigation by taking advantage of a South Carolina law that allows people to sue in any county and not where an incident occurred – which can often result in favoritism and put Hampton County on the map 2004 list of “Judicial HellholesHowever, this made the Murdaugh group the “go-to” attorneys in the county.

Randolph Sr. also became the first elected attorney (or district attorney) of the 14th Judicial Circuit (district) in 1920. Randolph Sr. held the position for 20 years until his death. His son, Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh II, was elected to the next position. He worked from 1940 to 1986, until his son Randolph Murdaugh III took over and worked from 1986 to 2006. Alex volunteered and worked part-time at the law firm after graduating from USC Law School in 1994 until 2021.

The Murdaugh family practiced law in South Carolina for 86 years; leading criminal prosecutions for their district, and playing a key role in deciding what cases to prosecute (and when) from 1920 to 2006.

What happened to Paul and Maggie Murdaugh?

Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were shot dead on June 7, 2021. Alex Murdaugh called 911 around 10 p.m. claiming he had discovered the bodies. However, the coroner found that the two had died between 9:00 pm and 9:30 pm NPRand they had been shot with different weapons – Maggie with an assault rifle and Paul with a shotgun.

In October 2021, Alex was named as an interested party in the case, although his lawyer denied the allegations and said he had no motive for the crimes, according to People.

According to NBC newssources close to the investigation said authorities have found cell phone video evidence that places Alex at the scene of the crime.

On July 14, 2022, he was indicted by a grand jury in connection with the murders of Paul and Maggie. He was charged with two counts of murder and two counts of gun possession while committing a violent crime.

Alex Murdaugh’s lawyers maintain he is innocent.

Image credit: Courtesy of Maggie Murdaugh via Facebook.

What other crimes were discovered after the murders of the Murdaugh family?

As investigators investigated the deaths of the mother and son, other unsolved crimes related to the Murdaugh family were uncovered.

Two years earlier his death, in February 2019, youngest son Paul, 22, had been involved in a boating accident that killed his friend, Mallory Beach, after being thrown off the boat. Though several witnesses said Paul was driving the boat while intoxicated, according to a previous one NBC documentary about Peacockimportant evidence had disappeared in the case.

Paul was charged with boating under the influence and two counts of causing bodily harm, though people suggested he received special treatment thanks to his family’s estate. He was released on bail and no date for his trial has ever been set, per People.

In addition, two weeks after the double murders that occurred in June 2021, the state reopened an investigation into a 2015 case of a man, Stephen Smith, found dead by the side of the road.

While South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) did not reveal what evidence led them to reopen the case, per NPR, the Murdaugh name kept coming up in connection with the case. Sources speculated that Buster Murdaugh, Alex Murdaugh’s oldest son who also worked at the family law firm, was in a relationship with Smith, according to the Daily mail.

In addition, although Smith’s death was ruled a hit-and-run, according to the Daily Mail, he had a gunshot wound above his right eye and his injuries did not match those of vehicular trauma.

Buster has not been named as a person of interest in Smith’s death.

What happened to Gloria Satterfield?

In addition to Smith’s death, SLED began investigating another case involving the Murdaugh family. In 2018, the family’s longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, died after Maggie Murdaugh called 911 claiming that Satterfield had fallen down the stairs. It was noted that Paul was present during the conversation.

Satterfield was a long-time caretaker of the family, and according to sources in Discovery + documentary Murdaugh Murders: Deadly Dynastyshe had told several people that Paul would kill small animals and often ignored authority.

Her cause of death remains unclear.

At the funeral, Alex approached Satterfield’s sons and said that since the accident happened on his property, he would charge himself for wrongful death so the boys can get some insurance money, according to The New York Times.

With all legalities handled by Alex, the sons were told to wait for a settlement.

Alex and his insurers reached a $4.3 million settlement in the months following Satterfield’s death, but the Satterfield family did not see a dime.

Satterfield’s sons filed a lawsuit against Alex Murdaugh in September 2021, and SLED decided to exhume the body for autopsy in June 2022, according to WCSC of South Carolina. That same month, Alex agreed to pay the Satterfield family $4.3 million.

Where is the Murdaugh law firm now?

The alleged embezzled funds in the wrongful death case exposed several other financial crimes, including Alex stealing millions from clients and his family law firm, according to The New York Times.

He was then forced to leave by his partners in September 2021, just three months after the double murders. The firm changed its name to the Parker Law Group, LLP in January 2021, according to WOTC South Carolina.

Alex was also indefinitely fired from practicing law in the state of South Carolina, and his name was removed from the firm once known as the “Murdaugh Law Firm.”

What happened to Alex Murdaugh?

The next day, after Alex was forced to leave the company, he was shot in the head while changing a tire on the side of the road. The shot caused only minor damage and he was able to call for help.

Days after he was shot, he entered rehab for opioid addiction. There he admitted to lawyers that he hired Curtis Eddie Smith to kill him so his son Buster could collect $10 million in insurance money.

On September 16, 2021, he turned himself in to Hampton County Law Enforcement in connection with the suicide-for-rent scam, per People.

Later, on October 14, 2021, Alex was arrested on felony charges for misappropriating millions from the Satterfield estate and obtaining property under false pretenses, per NPRand was hit with dozens of indictments related to countless financial crimes and deaths in the months that followed.

He was indicted on murder charges for the July 2022 death of his wife and son.

Image credit: Tracy Glantz/The Island Packet/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Where are the Murdaughs now?

Alex Murdaugh is currently in prison and will stand trial for the June 2021 murder of his son Paul and his wife Maggie. If convicted, he could face 30 years to life in prison without parole and could be eligible come for the death penalty, according to USA today.

Murdaugh faces a total of 90 charges, many of which include financial crimes such as robbery from the family’s attorney’s office, money laundering through a drug ring, and committing insurance fraud.

As for the rest of the surviving Murdaugh family, the eldest According to sources, son Buster was last not well since his father was arrested for the double murders. People in July 2022.

Despite previously working at his family’s law firm, Buster appears to have no involvement with the renamed Parker Law Group.

Meanwhile, Alex’s brother Randy still works as one practicing lawyer at the now renamed Parker Law Firm. He denounced Alex’s actions and claimed he was not involved in mishandling company funds in a statement to People September 2021.

Randy too Suing Alex for thousands of unpaid loans.

How much are the Murdaughs worth?

It’s unclear exactly how much wealth the Murdaugh family once had, but several accounts and properties turned out to be worth millions.

When Murdaugh was held on $7 million bail for 51 criminal charges, the court provided details of Murdaugh’s assets, including numerous real estate properties and even small islands, according to Greenville News.

In addition, the court found a retirement account worth between $2.1 and $2.2 million, and an IRA retirement fund worth $350,000 to $400,000.

He would also receive a trust for an undisclosed amount following the death of his father Randolph Murdaugh III in June 2021, plus estates following his wife’s death that same month.

Furthermore, the family hunting lodge where Paul and Maggie were murdered in February 2022 was on the list $3.9 million.

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