Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the mysterious double murders of Alex Murdaugh’s wife and youngest son that prompted the financial unraveling of the powerful South Carolina legal scion, yet so far there have been no arrests in one of the state's highest-profile unsolved homicide investigations.
Murdaugh’s college sweetheart wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and their youngest son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, were found shot dead on June 7, 2021, near dog kennels on the family’s sprawling 1,700-acre Moselle estate in rural Colleton County, in a region known as the Lowcountry.
"I need police and ambulance immediately! My wife and child have been shot badly," Alex Murdaugh frantically tells a dispatcher in the since released 911 call. "I’ve got up to it now – it’s bad."
"They’re on the ground out at my kennels," he says, telling the dispatcher neither his wife nor son was breathing. "I’ve been gone. I just came back… Please hurry!"
Investigators have noted that the two were shot with two different guns – Paul at close range with a shotgun, and Maggie with an assault rifle while running, The State newspaper reported. Maggie’s phone was found on a nearby roadway, but investigators have not offered any explanation.
Alex Murdaugh has claimed he left the estate to visit his elderly mother and returned later in the evening to find his wife and son killed. Three days later, his 81-year-old ailing father, Randolph Murdaugh III, a powerful legal figure in the region for decades, died on June 10, 2021.
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was facing pending boating under the influence charges for the February 2019 boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach and injured several other passengers.
Three weeks after the Murdaugh murders, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced it was opening an investigation into the 2015 death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith based on information gathered during the course of the investigation into the homicides of Maggie and Paul, though without elaborating any further about what potential connection was made.
Smith, a former classmate of the Murdaughs’ elder son, Buster Murdaugh, was found dead in the middle of a road in rural Hampton County in what was officially ruled a hit-and-run, despite a state trooper’s incident report noting that there was "no evidence to suggest the victim was struck by a vehicle."
Three months after the gruesome discoveries of his wife and son on the family estate, Alex Murdaugh allegedly hitched a suicide-for-hire plot to have himself shot and killed on another rural Hampton County road so that his surviving son Buster could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy.
The botched shooting – Murdaugh was only grazed by a bullet and airlifted to a hospital in a dramatic affair – happened a day after he was confronted by partners at the prominent personal injury law firm founded by his great-grandfather a century ago for allegedly stealing millions of dollars.
Murdaugh, whose family also controlled the local prosecutor’s office for generations, was charged for the scheme but was initially released from custody and allowed to go to out-of-state rehabilitation centers for treatment of a supposed decades-long opioid addiction.
He would be arrested in Orlando a month later on new charges he defrauded the sons of his longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, of $4.3 million in insurance settlement money after the 57-year-old died at a hospital in February 2018 weeks after an alleged trip and fall accident on steps at his home.
Murdaugh has been jailed in Richland County, South Carolina, since October on $7 million bond.
As of Tuesday, through 15 indictments containing 79 charges, a South Carolina grand jury has indicted Murdaugh for schemes to defraud Satterfield’s sons and a slew of other alleged victims, including a deaf quadriplegic man and a highway patrolman injured in the line of duty, of a total of nearly $8.5 million.
SLED announced last week that agents received permission from Satterfield’s family to exhume her body four years later, as the death was never reported to a coroner at the time, an autopsy was never conducted, and the death certificate claimed she died of natural causes.