South Carolina investigators release timeline of double murder of mother, son

Alex Murdaugh found his son and wife's dead bodies and called 911 around 10 p.m.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) released an initial timeline and other details about the double murder last week of a mother and son who belong to a powerful legal family from South Carolina's Lowcountry. 

Paul Murdaugh, 22, and his mother, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, were found shot to death near dog kennels on the family's Colleton County estate on the evening of June 7. 

The father, R. Alexander Murdaugh Sr., called 911 at 10:07 p.m. that night and told the operator he had returned home and found their bodies, SLED said Tuesday. 

Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey told The Island Packet that both Paul and Maggie Murdaugh died sometime between 9 and 9:30 p.m. from multiple gunshot wounds.

A vehicle sits in the driveway of a home, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in rural Colleton County, near Islandton, S.C. A mother and son from a prominent South Carolina legal family were found shot and killed on the family's land, and authorities said they have made no arrests in the double homicide case. 

A vehicle sits in the driveway of a home, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in rural Colleton County, near Islandton, S.C. A mother and son from a prominent South Carolina legal family were found shot and killed on the family's land, and authorities said they have made no arrests in the double homicide case.  (Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post And Courier via AP)

Local sheriff's deputies immediately responded to the home and secured the scene, then contacted SLED at 10:28 p.m. to request assistance in the investigation. SLED agents arrived shortly after midnight.

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At the time of his death on June 7, Paul Murdaugh was out on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond for a 2019 incident in which he allegedly crashed a boat while drunk, causing the death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach. 

Police are investigating whether Paul Murdaugh was targeted in the shootings, while his mother was killed because she was at the home by chance, the Island Packet reported

The Murdaughs are one of the most powerful legal families in South Carolina, with a member of the family serving as the top prosecutor in the state's Lowcountry for 87 years straight until 2005. 

Randolph Murdaugh, Sr. was solicitor of the 14th Circuit from 1920 to 1940. He was succeeded by his son, Randolph "Buster" Murdaugh, who served in the role from 1940 to 1986. Then Buster's son, Randolph Murdaugh III, was elected in 1986 and served until 2005, when he retired from public office. 

Randolph Murdaugh III died on Thursday at the age of 81, just two days after the deaths of his grandson and daughter-in-law. A cause of death was not announced, but a state senator said the elder Murdaugh was in intensive care when she asked for prayers for the family on Tuesday night. 

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SLED had not released many details about the investigation into Paul and Maggie Murdaugh's deaths before the timeline Tuesday, but said they will put an emphasis on transparency moving forward. 

"SLED is further committed to transparency and will release any additional information, including additional information provided during the 911 call, at the appropriate time," the law enforcement agency said Tuesday. "However, we cannot and will not do anything that could jeopardize the integrity of this investigation or that would violate the due process afforded to all in our constitutional system of justice."