Disgraced legal heir Alex Murdaugh arrived at a South Carolina court Wednesday for a hearing over last year’s brutal murders of the scion’s wife and son, which saw the scion plead not guilty to the grisly double slaying.
The hearing also saw Murdaugh, 54, denied bond for the alleged crimes – with cops now claiming they have a ‘mountain of evidence’ against him, including cell phone and video footage of him talking to his wife moments before she was killed.
Murdaugh, 54, was filmed briefly leaving jail for a bond hearing over the two first-degree murder charges – more than a year after the lifeless bodies of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh on the family’s sprawling hunting estate in Colleton County.
The once prominent lawyer was indicted last week on two counts of murder for the violent crime, which cops say saw Murdaugh shoot Maggie, 52, with a rifle, and Paul, 22, with a shotgun at their Moselle property in June 2021.
It is not known how police linked Murdaugh to the deaths after more than a year of investigation, but a law enforcement source with close knowledge of the case told PEOPLE police have a multitude of damning evidence against the ex attorney.
Disgraced legal heir Alex Murdaugh arrived at a South Carolina court Wednesday for a hearing over last year’s brutal murders of the scion’s wife and son – as cops now claim they have a ‘mountain of evidence’ against him
Murdaugh, 54, was filmed briefly leaving jail for a bond hearing over the two first-degree murder charges – more than a year after the lifeless bodies of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh on the family’s sprawling hunting estate in Colleton County
Murdaugh was officially charged with their murders on Thursday. The one-time legal scion was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
He is already behind bars on separate charges relating to embezzlement and fraud. It’s unclear when he will be arraigned for the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul, who were shot dead on the family’s estate on June 7, 2021.
It has taken police roughly 13 months to level charges against Murdaugh- who is already behind bars on separate charges relating to fraud and embezzlement charges relating to the money he stole from his law firm and a failed attempt to stage his own murder as part of a $10million life insurance scam for his son.
A grand jury will be shown evidence on Thursday.
Thirteen months ago, Murdaugh told police he ‘found’ the bodies of his youngest son and wife by dog kennels when he returned to the family’s 1,700-acre hunting estate of Moselle around 10pm.
In audio of the 911 call that he placed at 10:07pm that night, he can be heard telling the dispatcher in a high-pitched screech: ‘I need the police and an ambulance immediately. My wife and child were just shot badly.’
Paul, 22, was shot twice with a shotgun – once in the head and once in the chest. Maggie had been shot multiple times with an assault rifle. Their gunshot wounds were believed to be consistent with ‘execution-style’ killings, reports said.
According to several sources, Paul’s body was found partially inside one of the kennels, while his mother’s was several feet away, leading investigators to believe that she ran from her killer before being gunned down.
At least two of her gunshot wounds were believed to have been inflicted while she was on the ground.
In the months following, investigators looking into Maggie and Paul’s deaths also uncovered a litany of crime and insurance fraud that have seen them reopen two suspicious deaths linked to the family
In the immediate aftermath of the horrific discoveries, Murdaugh’s family and attorneys were robust in their defense of the man and his marriage.
According to lawyer Dick Harpootlian, Murdaugh had a ‘ironclad alibi’ and his marriage with Maggie was ‘full of love.’
But in the intervening months, a very different picture has emerged casting doubt on both claims, with evidence and witness testimony likely to be heard by a grand jury Thursday.
In audio of the 911 call, Alex Murdaugh, pictured with Maggie, Paul and surviving son Buster (far left) can be heard telling the dispatcher in a high-pitched screech: ‘I need the police and an ambulance immediately. My wife and child were just shot badly’
According to several sources, Paul’s body was found partially inside one of the kennels, while his mother’s was several feet away, leading investigators to believe that she ran from her killer before being gunned down
If the dogs barked that night, they did so in vain. Pictured above is one of the family’s dogs in the kennel late last year, before the property was sold
Pictured: A gated entrance to the Murdaugh hunting lodge. The disgraced attorney had originally told investigators that he was visiting his dying father and his mother about 11 miles away at their home in Varnville at the time of the murders
In fact, DailyMail.com can reveal, Murdaugh’s ‘alibi’ has changed significantly since his initial claims that he was nowhere near the property between 9 and 9:30pm – the time the coroner gave the approximate time of death.
In the immediate aftermath of the crime, Murdaugh told investigators that he was visiting his dying father and his mother about 11 miles away at their home in Varnville at the time of the murders.
Two weeks later, his brothers John Marvin and Randy Murdaugh told Good Morning America that he had in fact dropped his father at a hospital in Savannah before going to visit his mother, who has dementia.
Now, according to an account given by Murdaugh’s lawyer Jim Griffin to The State newspaper, Murdaugh claims to have left the property around 9pm to make the 20-minute drive to his mother’s house and returned to Moselle as originally claimed around or shortly after 10pm.
It is an account that places him squarely on the scene within the timeframe of the killings.
It has been speculated that audio and video data gleaned from Paul’s cellphone found by his body, but only recently unlocked by law enforcement, is what prompted Murdaugh’s dramatic change of tune.
Independent local news website FITSNews has reported that not only does this audio and video data show Murdaugh speaking with Maggie, but that ‘high velocity impact spatter’ of blood found on his clothing that night places him at the scene of the murders when at least one of the victims was killed.
The Murdaugh family’s sprawling South Carolina property, where his wife and son were killed, was listed for sale in March. The massive Colleton County property is known as Cross Swamp Farm and houses two buildings, two waterfowl reservoirs, and has over 2.5 miles of river frontage that can be used for kayaking and fishing
The 1,700-acre hunting estate, which was in Maggie’s name at the time of her death, was recently sold for $3.9million, probate records seen by DailyMail.com reveal
When DailyMail.com put these claims to South Carolina Law Enforcement Department (SLED) last week, officials would neither deny nor confirm them.
Meanwhile, the marriage described by Harpootlian as ‘full of love’ was, according to multiple sources, anything but.
One source familiar with the household told DailyMail.com that Maggie and Murdaugh’s marriage was a union in crisis.
Rumors that Murdaugh was having an affair with a fellow attorney have been widely circulated both locally and online.
And according to the source who spoke with DailyMail.com, there was ‘no love lost’ between the once loving couple.
In fact, the source said, in the months before her violent death, Maggie and Murdaugh had argued heatedly over finances.
Maggie, a stalwart of the South Carolina charity scene, had been socially embarrassed when a check written by her at a charity luncheon bounced.
It was just one of many incidents that saw her not only asking questions about the family’s finances but demanding answers.
The mysterious double murder, which sparked the beginning of the end for the prominent legal family, seems to be on the cusp of being resolved with Alex – who is already facing embezzlement charges relating to the money he stole from his law firm and a failed suicide-for-hire attempt as part of a $10million life insurance scam – expected to be charged in connection to the slayings this week
Murdaugh’s only surviving son, Buster, was photographed being comforted at the funeral for his mother and brother on June 11 last year
Disgraced South Carolina legal heir Alex Murdaugh (left) lured his wife, Maggie Murdaugh (right), to their family home before she and their son, Paul, were executed last summer
FITSNews also reported that Maggie was living separately from Murdaugh at the family’s home in Edisto Beach and that she had only gone to Moselle on the night of her death ‘reluctantly’ and on Murdaugh’s request.
Maggie was also reported to have had gone to see a divorce lawyer in the weeks before her murder, sparking speculation that she was threatening to call in a forensic accountant, according to People magazine.
At the same time, Murdaugh was under extreme pressure to cough up his financial records as part of a wrongful death suit being brought against him and his older son, Richard ‘Buster’ Murdaugh, Jr, by the family of Mallory Beach – the teenager killed in an horrific boat crash in 2019.
Paul was drunk and at the wheel of the boat when it slammed into pilings on Archers Creek with six teens – all underage, all drinking heavily – aboard.
Murdaugh’s attorney had insisted his client had a ‘ironclad alibi’ and that his marriage with Maggie was ‘full of love,’ however, a very different picture has emerged casting doubt on both claims in recent months
Beach, 19, was thrown from the vessel and her body found by two fishermen one week later, five miles from the site. Her cause of death was blunt force trauma and drowning.
Legal documents seen by DailyMail.com show that lawyers for Beach’s family had repeatedly pressed Murdaugh for financial disclosure and set a court deadline of June 9 – just two days after Maggie and Paul’s murders – for him to hand over all relevant paperwork.
Back then, only Murdaugh knew that he was neck-deep in debts and, what prosecutors allege, was a multi-million-dollar insurance fraud scheme and criminal enterprise.
In the months following, investigators looking into Maggie and Paul’s deaths uncovered a litany of crime and insurance fraud that have seen them reopen two suspicious deaths linked to the family – former housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, 56, who fell after a ‘trip and fall’ at Moselle in 2018 and local teen, Stephen Smith, 19.
Satterfield’s sons said they were defrauded out of a $4.3million wrongful death suit brought against Murdaugh on his own advice and with the promise that they would be taken care of.
Instead, Murdaugh syphoned off the funds for himself, allegedly with the help of Corey Fleming, a former USC roommate and fellow attorney whom he recommended the Satterfield brothers use.
Fleming has also been charged for his part in the scheme.
SLED recently announced that it has received permission from Satterfield’s family to have her body exhumed.
Hampton County Coroner, Angie Topper, asked investigators to look at Satterfield’s death again due to ‘inconsistencies.’
These included the fact that her office was never informed, meaning no autopsy was conducted, and that the manner of death given on the death certificate – ‘natural’ – was not consistent with a trip and fall.
The unsolved case, which would eventually evolve into a dramatic tale involving betrayal, fraud, addiction, and murder, took a twist last September when Murdaugh claimed he had been shot in the head in a drive by shooting on this rural South Carolina road
It would later emerge that Murdaugh had hired Curtis Smith (left) as a hit man to kill him as part of a staged murder plot that would allow his surviving son Buster to collect $10million in life insurance money
Similarly, the manner of Smith’s death is once again the subject of investigation. The 19-year-old’s body was found on a road in Hampton County in July 2015 with a head wound so devastating that investigators first thought he had been shot.
DailyMail.com revealed that the incident was in fact initially investigated as a homicide but recategorized as a hit and run in the face of strong opposition from the lead investigator who was one of the first officers on the scene and found no evidence of any vehicular involvement.
In addition to this, 15 state grand jury indictments containing 79 charges have come down against Murdaugh with prosecutors claiming he defrauded a staggering $8.4million from victims.
The truly dire state of his financial affairs may go some way to explaining one of the most bizarre twists in this entire saga – Murdaugh’s failed ‘suicide-for-hire’ plot just three months after Maggie and Paul’s deaths, and one day after he resigned from the family’s Hampton-based law firm.
The firm, formerly known as Parker, Murdaugh, Parker, Elztroth & Detrick, or PMPED, stripped the Murdaugh name from their masthead in January and has since rebranded as the Parker Law Group.
The firm later claimed that Murdaugh misappropriated company funds and at least one of Murdaugh’s former colleagues is among the many bringing suits against him.
Then on September 4 last year, Murdaugh made his second frantic 911 call, this time to report that he had been shot while attempting to change a tire by the side of the road not far from Moselle.
From the start the story seemed odd, his injuries unconvincing and his description of the man so vague and contradictory that SLED chose not to release the artist’s impression that Murdaugh helped generate.
Once a prominent legal scion, Alex Murdaugh resigned from the family’s Hampton-based law firm in September. The firm later claimed that Murdaugh misappropriated company funds and at least one of Murdaugh’s former colleagues is among the many bringing suits against him
The South Carolina law firm (pictured) formerly known as Parker, Murdaugh, Parker, Elztroth & Detrick, or PMPED, stripped the Murdaugh name from their masthead in January and has since rebranded as the Parker Law Group
At the time of Paul’s death, the Murdaughs were facing a wrongful death lawsuit by the family of Mallory Beach, 19, (right)– who was killed in an horrific boat crash in 2019. Paul was drunk and at the wheel of the boat when it slammed into pilings on Archers Creek with six teens – all underage, all drinking heavily – aboard
Within two weeks, the whole affair had unraveled with Murdaugh claiming that he had hired a friend and distant relative Curtis ‘Eddie’ Smith, 61, to shoot him in the head so that his surviving son, Buster, could receive a $10million pay out form his life insurance.
He claimed that he had been in the throes of opioid addiction and had been for more than two decades and checked himself into rehab in Florida.
He was charged with insurance fraud and false reporting while Smith was charged on several counts including conspiracy.
He too has since been slapped with other charges relating to his relationship to Murdaugh, financial wrongdoing and drug trafficking.
Murdaugh is currently being held in Alvin S Glenn detention center in Richland County on a $7million bond.
He remains the only person ever named a person of interest in his wife and son’s death though, with murder charges apparently imminent, it is unclear whether they will be considered by a state grand jury in Columbia, or one in Colleton County, where Moselle, the scene of the crimes, sits.
TIMELINE OF MURDAUGH FAMILY MURDERS, DEATHS, LAWSUITS AND ARRESTS
Cops investigating the double murder have also reopened the case into a 2015 hit-and-run of teen Stephen Smith
Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Sattlerfield dies
Mallory Beach, 19, died in February 2019
2015: Teenager Stephen Smith dies
Smith was found on the side of the road.
Police officially rule his death a hit-and-run but he had suffered blunt force trauma to the head
His mother has since shared her belief that she thinks he was killed in a hate-crime because he was gay
Case notes obtained by DailyMail.com revealed Paul’s older brother Buster was named multiple times in the investigation.
Police wanted to know more about his relationship with Stephen
Stephen’s mother said he had been having a ‘fling’.
In a deposition years later, one of Paul’s friends said the family had ‘covered’ other killings up.
He mentioned Smith’s death.
2018: Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield dies
Gloria died after ‘falling’ down the stairs in the family house
The family gave her family $500.000 in a wrongful death settlement but it’s unclear why her death was ruled to be their fault.
Alex Murdaugh was listed as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Satterfield was only 57 when she died.
She left behind a husband and children.
Her death was also mentioned in the deposition by Paul Murdaugh’s friend.
2019: Mallory Beach dies being thrown from boat driven by Paul Murdaugh
Paul was charged afterwards because he’d been drinking and was behaving ‘belligerently’ that night.
He had been released on bond.
Other kids were on the boat but were unharmed.
One testified that they were scared to speak about the Murdaugh family because they knew how to ‘cover things up’.
That boy named Stephen Smith and the housekeeper, and claimed Paul pushed her
June 7 2021: Paul and Maggie are murdered
The mom and son were found shot dead at the family home in Hampton, South Carolina.
Alex Murdaugh says he found them at the home.
The medical examiner said the pair had been dead for an hour at most when he discovered them.
Alex’s son Paul, 22, (left) and wife Maggie, 52, (right) were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds on June 7 at the family hunting lodge
Alex’s father Randolph Murdaugh III died ‘peacefully’ at home three days after Maggie and Paul were found shot dead
June 10 2021: Alex’s 81-year-old father Randolph Murdaugh III dies ‘naturally’ and ‘peacefully’ at home
September 3: Alex resigns from his law firm amid claims he misused funds
The firm has hired a forensic investigator to go through the accounts
September 4: Alex calls 911 claiming he’s been shot in the head in a drive-by.
He only had ‘surface’ wounds and was also able to call his brother
September 6: Alex releases a statement confirming his resignation from the firm and announcing he has entered rehab
Says ‘I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated these murders.’