South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh charged with murder of wife and son

A South Carolina grand jury on Thursday indicted Alex Murdaugh on two counts of murder in connection to the deaths of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul

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South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson on Thursday announced new murder charges against disgraced South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh.

A Colleton County Grand Jury indicted Murdaugh, 63, for two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection to the June 7, 2021, deaths of his wife, Maggie, 52, and their son Paul, 22.

"All the efforts of our office and the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation have been focused on seeking justice for the victims’ families," Wilson said in a Thursday statement. "We want to thank the State Law Enforcement Division, the attorneys and staff in our office, and everyone who worked on this case for their tireless efforts to gather evidence and follow where it led. We also want to thank the Colleton County Grand Jury for listening to that evidence and for their service to the people of the state."

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The indictments allege that Murdaugh killed his son with a shotgun and his wife with a rifle near dog kennels on the family's property in a rural area of the South Carolina Lowcountry. 

Lawyer Alex Murdaugh faces two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection to the June 7, 2021, deaths of Murdaugh's wife, Maggie, 52, and their son Paul, 22.

Lawyer Alex Murdaugh faces two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection to the June 7, 2021, deaths of Murdaugh's wife, Maggie, 52, and their son Paul, 22. (Mic Smith, File, Associated Press)

"Over the last 13 months, [State Law Enforcement Division] agents and our partners have worked day in and day out to build a case against the person responsible for the murders of Maggie and Paul and to exclude those who were not," SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a Thursday statement. "At no point did agents lose focus on this investigation. From the beginning I have been clear, the priority was to ensure justice was served. Today is one more step in a long process for justice for Maggie and Paul."

Before Thursday's bombshell murder charges, Murdaugh faced more than 80 other criminal charges through 16 state grand jury indictments for schemes to defraud a slew of victims, including the family of his dead housekeeper, a deaf quadriplegic man and a highway patrolman injured in the line of duty, of a total sum of nearly $8.5 million.

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Murdaugh's attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, said in a statement to FOX Carolina that the defendant "wants his family, friends and everyone to know that he did not have anything to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul."

"He loved them more than anything in the world," the statement continued. "It was very clear from day one that law enforcement and the Attorney General prematurely concluded that Alex was responsible for the murder of his wife and son. But we know that Alex did not have any motive whatsoever to murder them. We are immediately filing a motion for a speedy trial, we are requesting that the Attorney General turn over all evidence within 30 days as required by law and we demand to have a trial within 60 days of receiving that evidence."

Last year, the high-profile lawyer was accused of embezzling millions from a prominent law firm founded by his great-grandfather. The complaint filed on Nov. 12, 2021, on behalf of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, P.A., (PMPED) claims that Murdaugh spent client and law firm money for his own personal use via a fraudulent Bank of America account without authorization. 

On Nov. 19, 2021, Wilson announced charges against Mudaugh for his "alleged schemes to defraud victims and thereafter launder" more than $4.8 million. Those charges included four counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent; seven counts of obtaining signature or property by false pretenses; seven counts of money laundering; eight counts of computer crimes; and one count of forgery.

A Hampton County grand jury also indicted Murdaugh for an apparent staged suicide shooting attempt on counts of conspiracy, false claim or payment in the amount of $10,000 or more and filing a false police report. 

The staged shooting was allegedly meant to allow his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, to collect on a $10 million life insurance policy.

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Murdaugh allegedly admitted to hiring a hitman, Curtis Smith, to shoot him on the side of the road in Hampton County so that his son could collect life insurance. But Smith apparently missed, only grazing Murdaugh in the head, and a judge later released Murdaugh on his own recognizance, allowing him to travel back to out-of-state rehabilitation facilities to treat an alleged 20-year opioid addiction. 

The former lawyer is also facing a slew of charges from the Colleton County Grand Jury in connection to the complicated series of events. State police have since opened a number of criminal investigations into Murdaugh, including related to the 2015 roadside death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith, who was once Buster’s classmate.