The Murdaugh family saga: a tangled web of secrets and murder

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It looks like someone took an inventory of the sordid elements and stuffed them all into a crime thriller so that it was only fictional.

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But the insidious story of the Murdoffs, a prominent South Carolina family with shadowy secrets, is real. And it is far from over.

The story took a new turn this week when investigators arrested Patriarch Alex Murdaugh for allegedly hiring a hit man to kill him in a failed attempt to collect millions in life insurance for his surviving son, Buster. took. It came three months after Murdaugh’s wife and other sons were shot at the family’s secluded property.


These events prompted authorities to launch an investigation into several other mysterious deaths – dating back years – with apparent ties to Murdoff.

Now the legacy of the family’s influence is crumbling and the countryside around the Hampton, about 75 miles west of Charleston, is buzzing with principles. The emerging saga has inspired at least one podcast and captivated amateur investigators across the state and country.

“Around the coffee shops and barber shops, that’s what everyone is talking about,” said Akim Anastopolo, a Charleston attorney and former prosecutor who has crossed paths with Alex Murdaugh. “You can’t believe how this thing changes every day. The new information that comes out – it’s amazing because everyone is living it in real time.”
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The mystery is actually a tangled web of characters and events. To uncover all this, we have to go back at least six years.

Family history of power and connections

The Murdoffs have long been a powerful legal dynasty in this part of the Carolina Lowcountry, a quiet stretch of farms, woods, marshland, and small towns about 60 miles south of Charleston or even Hilton Head. The tourists feel away from the hustle and bustle.

For nearly a century, the family controlled the local prosecutor’s office.
Beginning in 1920, Randolph Murdoff Sr. was the first of three generations of solicitors for the 14th Judicial Circuit, which oversees cases in five countries. His son, Randolph Murdoff Jr., remained in the position for nearly five decades.

Randolph Murdoff III – Alex Murdoff’s father – then replaced him and served through 2005, the family litigated in the area for 87 consecutive years.

But the prosecutor’s office is no longer running with the family, their ties are deep.

Murdoff, including Alex and his younger brother Randy, have long been partners in a regional law firm that has offices in three counties. They have focused mostly on personal injury litigation and have won great settlements for their clients.

“We’re no different from anyone else. We’ve been here as lawyers for a long time,” Randy Murdoff told ABC News in June. “I use words like ‘dynasty’ and ‘power.’ But we are just regular people…”
Randolph Murdoff III died in june At the age of 81 – three days after the murder of his daughter-in-law and grandson.

a boat accident at midnight

Murdoff’s troubles began in February 2019, at least in the public eye.

Alex Murdaugh’s younger son Paul Murdog was piloting his father’s motorboat with five of his friends on the morning of February 24 when it collided with a bridge over Archer Creek near Paris Island. He was 19 at the time and a student at the University of South Carolina.

One of their passengers, Mallory Beach, also 19, was thrown from the boat. His body was found a week later.

911 was called from the crash site at around 2:30

According to the affidavit, three people on the boat later told investigators that Paul Murdog was driving, although another passenger identified a different person as the driver.
Investigators searching the boat found a cooler full of beer with empty cans and bottles of wine, According to Granthshala affiliate WJCL.
Paul Murdoff during a court appearance.

Officers accused Paul Murdaugh of boating under the influence, causing great bodily harm and the death of Beach.

He pleaded not guilty and was still awaiting trial when tragedy struck the family again.

A mother and son murdered in family property

On June 7, emergency dispatchers in Coleton County received a 911 call from a distraught Alex Murdaugh.

He told them that he had arrived at the family’s 1,700-acre estate in Islandton, an unincorporated village, to find the bodies of his wife Maggie and son Paul lying on the ground by their dog kennel.

The bodies of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were found on June 7 at the bottom of this driveway to the Murdaugh property in Islandton, South Carolina.

Maggie Murdaugh, 52, was shot multiple times with a semiautomatic rifle. Paul Murdog, 22, had been shot at least twice by then.

“And are they breathing?” asked the dispatcher.

“No ma’am,” said Murdoug.

The gruesome scene pointed to the two shooters, leading some observers to wonder whether it was linked to the family’s legal history. Paul Murdoff’s Uncle told ABC News That he had been receiving threatening messages online since the boating accident.

Alex Murdoff, 53, has denied taking responsibility for the murders, which are still unsolved.

“My brother loved Maggie and loved Paul like nothing else on this earth…” Randy Murdoff told ABC News. “So there’s no possible way he could have anything to do with it, I can assure you.”

The murders brought the family into the national spotlight and have so far baffled the police.

They also brought in new investigations for the previous two deaths.

A mysterious body on a country road

In June, when investigators investigated the shooting deaths of Alex Murdog’s wife and son, they made a shocking announcement.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) said it was opening an investigation into the death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith, whose body was found on a rural road about 8 miles west of the Murdog Estate on July 8, 2015.

A wooden memorial has been erected for 19-year-old Stephen Nicholas Smith, who was found dead on a country road in 2015.

At the time, police said Smith had a major wound to the head and believed he may have been hit by a vehicle. None of the suspects were ever indicted.

Officials have not disclosed what new information they received to reopen the investigation into Smith’s death.

Smith and Buster Murdaugh, 25, were classmates at Wade Hampton High School.

Murdoff has not been charged with wrongdoing in his case, and no evidence has linked the family to Smith’s death.

But Smith’s mother WCIV affiliated with Granthshala. told In June, she couldn’t believe her son had been hit-and-run.
Sandy Smith holds a photo of her late son, Stephen Smith, in June. "There will never be another like him," he said.

The reopening of the investigation was long overdue, Sandy Smith said.

“We’ve been waiting on this forever,” she told the affiliate. “Stephen has always been put on the back burner. It’s like no one is looking for answers. Stephen had no justice.”

A Peculiar Roadside Shooting

Most of the summers passed uneventfully. Then, on September 4, the Murdog saga took another turn.

That day Alex Murdaugh called 911 and said that he had been shot in the head by an unidentified man while changing a tire on the side of the road not far from his home.

A spokesman for the family said the family was hopeful that Murdaugh would recover and demanded privacy, saying “the Murdog family has suffered more than any single family could have imagined.”

Curtis Edward Smith, 61.  He has been charged with conspiracy to commit assisted suicide, assault and battery, and insurance fraud, among other charges.

But a week later, Murdoff admitted to officers that he had conspired with the man—who police had identified as Curtis Edward Smith—to kill him as part of an insurance fraud scheme, a former Murdoff. was the customer.

According to an affidavit supporting the charges against Smith, Murdoff hoped that his surviving son, Buster, could make a $10 million life insurance payment.

Murdoff wanted to end his life, but believed his life insurance policy contained a suicide exclusion, said his lawyer, who said his client wanted to protect his only surviving child. The affidavit states that Murdaugh presented Smith with a shotgun and asked him to shoot him in the head.

Murdoff also announced that he had resigned from his law firm following allegations of misappropriation of funds, adding that he was entering rehab, which was later diagnosed by one of his lawyers as an opioid addiction. had specified.

“The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life,” Murdoff said in a statement. “I’ve made a lot of decisions that I really regret.”

Then the mystery deepened.

Fatal Fall of a Homeowner

On Wednesday, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said it was opening a criminal investigation into the February 2018 death of Gloria Satterfield, a housekeeper who had spent more than two decades working for the Murdoff family.
Satterfield, 57, died at the Murdog estate in what was declared at the time as a “trip and fall accident,” according to Eric Bland, the attorney representing her estate.
Gloria Satterfield

SLED said it is launching an investigation based on a request from the Hampton County coroner that uncovered discrepancies in the manner in which Satterfield died, as well as information gathered during other ongoing investigations involving Alex Murdog.

The coroner’s request stated that no autopsy was performed at Satterfield and that “the manner of death on the death certificate was ruled ‘natural’, which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident.” “

This week, Bland also filed a civil suit, alleging that Murdog offered the housekeeper’s two sons to sue him so they could settle their mother’s life insurance. Bland said Murdog then introduced the sons to a fellow attorney, to represent them at trial, without telling them that the lawyer was a close friend.

The lawsuit states that Satterfield’s sons received a partial settlement of $505,000, but to date has seen none of it.

Granthshala has contacted Murdaugh’s lawyers for comment.

And the twists and turns can be too far

Alex Murdaugh has been charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report. His law license has been suspended.

“It’s such a crazy state of events,” said Charleston attorney, Anastopolo. “Those who know him (Murdogs) are very surprised that this happened, because he is a respected lawyer.”

Alex Murdoff walks into court on September 16 for his bond hearing in Varnville, South Carolina.

Murdo was arrested on Thursday and presented in court in handcuffs before being released on bond. The redhead, known to friends as “Big Red,” looked thinner and browner than in previous family snapshots. Once he was seen wiping tears from his eyes.

In a statement to Granthshala, his lawyers, Dick Harputlian and Jim Griffin, said his clients “are not without fault.” But he blamed his issues on an opioid addiction.

“These individuals took advantage of their addiction and their ability to pay substantial money for illegal drugs,” the lawyers said. “One of those men took advantage of his mental illness and agreed to kill Alex by shooting him in the head.”

Murdoff has announced a reward of $100,000 for leading to the arrest and conviction of the parties responsible for the deaths of his wife and son.

Meanwhile, criminal investigations are on on several fronts. Reporters are scouring the area for anyone who may have knowledge of Murdoff. And everyone wonders what’s coming next.


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