Prominent South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh, who is facing several charges for allegedly plotting his own death so his surviving son could cash out on a $10 million insurance settlement, surrendered his passport Thursday, as a judge set his personal recognizance bond at $20,000.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office had asked the judge to prevent Murdaugh from traveling to an out of state rehabilitation facility or be fitted with a GPS locator, but Murdaugh's defense attorneys pointed out that their client turned himself in to authorities earlier that day, and was coping with a opioid addiction worsened by the yet-to-be solved murders of his wife Maggie and son, Paul, months ago. The judge ultimately ruled that Murdaugh was not a danger to the community.
The State Law Enforcement Division confirmed earlier Thursday that Murdaugh was arrested and charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report. Murdaugh's lawyers said he had been in drug rehab for about 10 days after his law firm fired him over missing money that could total millions of dollars.
"I can assure you that SLED agents will continue working to bring justice to anyone involved with any criminal act associated with these ongoing investigations," said SLED Chief Mark Keel. "The arrests in this case are only the first step in that process."
The State Law Enforcement Division on Wednesday opened a sixth investigation into Murdaugh and his family — this time over the death of housekeeper and nanny, Gloria Satterfield, who died in his home. The woman's death certificate said she died from natural causes and it wasn't reported to the Hampton County coroner. But a wrongful death settlement for $500,000 said she was killed in a slip-and-fall at Murdaugh's home.
Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather all held the office of solicitor in the area for more than 80 years and other family members were prominent civil attorneys in the region. Murdaugh himself was an authorized volunteer prosecutor supporting his father’s cases, a relationship the office severed this month as Murdaugh said he was seeking rehabilitation for an oxycodone addiction.
It all started June 7, when Murdaugh found the bodies of his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, and their 22-year-old son Paul shot multiple times after returning to their Colleton County home after visiting his sick father. Those killings remain unsolved, and Murdaugh's lawyers have said he is adamant he had nothing to do with their deaths.
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On Sept. 3, Murdaugh was fired by the PMPED Law Firm which was founded by his grandfather after the firm determined he stole money. The next day, Murdaugh's lawyers said he decided to kill himself but have someone else shoot him. Murdaugh gave Curtis Edward Smith a gun and they headed to lonely Old Salkehatchie Road. Smith fired one shot that only grazed Murdaugh's head, a State Law Enforcement Division agent said in a sworn statement.
Murdaugh was able to call 911 and his initial story was someone passing in a pickup truck shot at him as he checked a tire that was low on pressure. His lawyers said a week later he told them about the insurance scheme and they told state police.
Smith, 61, was arrested late Tuesday and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, distribution of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana. He remains in jail and it wasn't known if he had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.
Along with the killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh and the shooting of Alex Murdaugh, the State Law Enforcement Division is also investigating the missing money, whether anyone tried to obstruct an investigation into a 2019 boat crash for which Paul Murdaugh was eventually charged and a July 2015 hit-and-run death in Hampton County.
The agency announced Wednesday that they are now investigating Gloria Satterfield's death. Hampton County Coroner Angela Topper asked for the state investigation, saying Satterfield's death certificate lists she died of natural causes, which is inconsistent with a trip-and-fall accidental death. She said her office was not informed so it could perform an autopsy.
Satterfield's two sons filed a lawsuit Wednesday saying they haven't seen any of the $500,000 wrongful death settlement that Murdaugh had friends arrange.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Danielle Wallace is a Digital Reporter for Fox News and FOX Business. Follow her on Twitter at @danimwallace. If you've got a tip, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.