Episode 34 | Keeping up with the Murdaughs | Murder, Fraud and Mayhem!
Updated: Nov 7, 2021
It was the night of June 7, 2021 when 2 members of the wealthy Murdaugh family, 52 year old Margaret Murdaugh and her 22 year old son Paul were found shot dead at their hunting lodge in South Carolina. Maggie had been shot 'multiple times,' with an assault rifle and Paul had been shot in the head and torso with a shotgun. It was after these horrific murders that a whole lot more criminal misdeeds related to the Murdaugh family have bubbled to the surface creating a spectacular media blitzkreig, and a true crime murder mystery plot that just gets thicker and thicker.
In this episode of Homicide Inc. we’re going to unpack a whole lotta juicy Murdaugh family tidbits to try to get a better understanding as to why someone or some people wanted to kill two members of the Murdaugh family and what has led us to where we are today.
For more than 100 years of South Carolina low country history, the Murdaugh name came to represent a legal dynasty in coastal South Carolina,
where three successive generations controlled the local prosecutor's office. South Carolina low country, is a lush stretch of land known for its tall, marsh grass-lined waterways and Palmetto trees.
The Murdaugh family quietly enjoyed their wealth, privilege, sprawling estates and waterfront property -- that is until recently. The family has been closely linked to several bloody tragedies and other mayhem that is ever-evolving. Let’s begin with the early morning hours of Feb. 24th 2019 and the boat crash heard around the world.
It was Saturday night and 19 year old Paul Murdaugh and 5 of his teenage friends were ready to party. Murdaugh and his girlfriend, another couple and other friends all under the age of 21 — had plans for a couples’ date night that included boating to a friend’s oyster roast on Paukie Island prior to spending the night at the Murdaughs’ river home.
That residence is located on what the kids call “Murdaugh Island” on the Chechessee River in Beaufort County. Around 5:30 p.m. on February 23, Murdaugh purchased alcohol from a clerk at a Gas Station. The cashier glanced at his license, but didn’t take the time to check the psychical characteristics or question him. It was a fake ID. Another of the kids on the boat used a fake ID she got from “ID God” online to also purchase alcohol at the same gas station earlier that day.
They bundled up for the 50 degree night, filled a couple of coolers with snacks, the beer, and other alcoholic beverages and headed out on the river. They had a blast ripping through the many twists and turns along the Chechessee river for the more than 1 hour ride to the Oyster roast 18 miles away. The question was raised as to why on a not-so-pleasant CHILLY February evening — with temperatures in the upper 50s — did Murdaugh and his friends decide to boat to the party instead of driving when it was already dusk? Because they’d heard there was an alcohol check point along the highway that night- that’s why.
The boat belonged to Paul’s father, lawyer Alex Murdaugh. The 17-foot Sea Hunt boat had no working lights so the teens took turns shining a flashlight for visibility.
For about five hours, the six boaters hung out at the oyster roast at the home of Kristy and James Woods on Paulkie Island, drinking heavily. When it was time to head back it was evident that Paul Murdaugh was intoxicated and in no condition to drive the boat. Several adults at the party — as well as his boat mates suggested that the group get an Uber because of the alcohol they consumed, but Paul was determined to drive the boat assuring everyone he’d drive slowly and cautiously.
The 6 climbed aboard the boat and headed off. Murdaugh —— then decided he wanted to get a shot from a waterfront bar in downtown Beaufort. He drove the boat through the darkness to the Beaufort Waterfront —with only a handheld flashlight to light the way. Murdaugh and Connor Cook popped into Luther’s bar for a nightcap as the other 4 waited huddling on the dock in the chilly February night. The two purchased a round of shots— one Lemon Drop and one Jaegar — and despite only being in the bar for under 10 minutes, Paul Murdaugh allegedly became very drunk and belligerent. His friends later claiming in statements that Murdaugh has a drunk alter-ego named “Timmy” - apparently this piece of work Timmy showed up at Luther’s that night. Timmy was an angry drunk. He began fighting with another patron and after throwing chairs was asked to leave.
When the boat left downtown Beaufort around 1:00 a.m., Paul was visibly intoxicated and was obvious to the other boaters it wasn’t safe for him to be driving. After they left the dock in Beaufort, Murdaugh began showing bizarre behavior taking off his clothes despite the frigid temperature and shouted at his then-girlfriend. They drove slowly through the twists and turns of the river.. .at first. It was late, well past 1 a.m., and Paul’s slow and erratic driving, at times driving in circles, was irritating the already frustrated group. They tried to talk Paul into letting another of the boys drive the boat but he refused. Tensions rose and a verbal altercation broke out between Murdaugh and Anthony Cook. Cook was along for the night with his beautiful girlfriend Mallory Beach. In a fit of rage Murdaugh or perhaps Timmy, gunned the motor and began flying through the dark night. They were now on Archer’s Creek. Cook sat on the bottom of the boat, clinging to Mallory in his lap -the boat was going extremely fast and all were yelling for Murdaugh to stop.
Seconds later, the 17-foot center-console boat traveling at 30 MPH plowed into the piling at Archer’s Creek Bridge. All 6 were catapulted into the dark water.
The driver’s side of the boat was split open from the nose all the way to the back leaving a 6-foot gash where the boat actually came-apart at the seams.
A call came in to 911 soon after the crash at 2:30am:
The teen that made the call can be heard asking Murdaugh: “Paul, what bridge is this?”
Cook: “We’re in a boat crash on Archer’s Creek... we have someone missing.”
“There’s six of us, and one is missing.”
“A female. Mallory Beach is missing.”
After authorities arrived on the scene a frantic search was launched to locate Mallory Beach. It sadly wasn’t until a week later that Mallory’s body was found by another boater a few miles away from the crash site at the Broad River Boat Landing. The coroner’s office said Beach died from drowning and blunt force trauma.
After the crash, four of the five teens were rushed to Beaufort Memorial Hospital. A nurse noted to police that Paul Murdaugh was only wearing boxers and that he was grossly intoxicated and belligerent, and appeared to be the most intoxicated and uncooperative of those involved in the crash.
A blood test taken at the hospital around 4 a.m. 2 hours after the crash showed Murdaugh had a blood/alcohol level of .286, more than three times the legal limit- that is for an adult over the age of 21 legally allowed to drink, which he wasn’t. The boy was sauced! This blood test was taken at the hospital’s jurisdiction because of Paul’s erratic behavior. The attending officer is accused of manipulating his reports to favor Paul Murdaugh — he only offered Connor Cook a field sobriety test that night. He wrote in his report that he was instructed to get a field sobriety test from only one person that night: Connor Cook. Interesting.
Paul’s father, lawyer Alex Murdaugh, and grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh III, appeared at the hospital ten minutes after Paul Murdaugh, according to witness statements.
Also according to witnesses, Alex Murdaugh appeared to be more concerned with “orchestrating” a plan in the criminal investigation than he was about finding Mallory Beach.
While being questioned by investigators Connor Cook, indicated Alex Murdaugh told him to keep his 'mouth shut,' about the night and to say he didn’t know who was driving at the time of the crash and that and Alex Murdaugh had his back.” He also said Paul Murdaugh, while on the way to the hospital, called his grandfather and fingered Connor Cook as the driver of the boat when it crashed. A lie. One of many to come.
The Murdaughs were a force to be reckoned with. It was well-known throughout the region, you don’t fuck with the Murdaughs - they were at the legal helm of a 5 county area. The Murdaugh’s ran the joint.
Paul Murdaugh was the grandson of the late Randolph Murdaugh III (He died in the midst of the on-going Murdaugh drama) the former 14th Circuit Solicitor, tasked with being a traveling prosecutor within the five-county area. Under his watch, he tried over 200 murder cases. Randolph III, along with his father and grandfather, ran that office for more than 85 years. You don’t fuck with the Murdaughs.
Connor Cook also indicated that there were several rumored Hampton County incidents involving members of the Murdaugh family including one where Paul had pushed his housekeeper down the stairs and she died - no criminal case was ever opened until now. The state police has opened a criminal investigation based on a request from the Hampton County coroner that highlighted inconsistencies in the ruling of Gloria Satterfield’s manner of death, as well as information gathered during the department’s ongoing investigations involving Alex Murdaugh and the homicides.
It’s reported Gloria Satterfield, 57, died on Feb. 26, 2018, after succumbing to head injuries sustained from a tumble down the Murdaugh’s long staircase. She had worked for the Murdaugh family for more than 2 decades and loved them like family. She never regained consciousness after the accident. Alex Murdaugh reportedly told emergency responders that she had fallen down the stairs, having tripped over one of the family’s dogs. And here’s the juicy kicker, the coroner’s request to the state police said Satterfield’s death was “not reported to the coroner at the time,” and because of that, an autopsy was never performed. Additionally, her manner of death was ruled “natural,” which was “inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip-and-fall accident,” according to the coroner’s report. Smells like more cover-up to me kids!
After Satterfield died, a representative of Satterfield’s estate filed a wrongful death suit against Alex Murdaugh, claiming she died from injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident in Hampton County. The Lloyds of London homeowners insurance claim was settled on Oct. 5, 2020, and a partial payout was approved in the amount of $505,000 according to court documents, however the family has yet to receive any payout. It’s since been reported that Alex Murdaugh proposed the housekeeper's two sons sue him so they could collect their mother's life insurance settlement. Murdaugh then introduced the sons to a fellow attorney to represent them in the lawsuit without disclosing to them that the attorney was a close friend. What a Shady mofo!
Connor Cook also brought up another bit of Murdaugh juice. Paul was rumored to have been involved with a guy that was found beaten up in the middle of a rural road in 2015 that Murdaugh squirmed out of. That guy was Stephen Smith. And he wasn’t just beaten up, he was dead. It seems any heat the Murdaughs get into they manage to get out of - all thanks to the family legacy and southern cronyism. Don’t fuck with the Murdaughs.
Based on these tips from Conor Cook, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division recently reopened the investigation into this cold case involving 19-year-old nursing student Stephen Smith. This homicide had originally been ruled a hit-and-run accident. More on that in a jiffy.
Paul Murdaugh was eventually indicted and charged with three felony counts of boating under the influence, including boating under the influence resulting in death, which carries a penalty of up to 25 years in prison by South Carolina law. He plead not guilty to all charges and was awaiting a trial date for more than 2 years until the case took on a horrific new twist June 7th 2021.
At around 10pm on June 7th, Paul Murdaugh’s father prominent SC Lawyer Alex Murdaugh arrived at the family’s 1700 acre hunting lodge estate to discover a most grisly scene of horror. Lying near the dog kennels they operated were the bodies of his wife 52 year old Margaret and his youngest son 22 year old Paul. They had each been shot multiple times execution style. Paul had been hit with at least two shotgun blasts to his chest and head and Margaret was shot multiple times with an assault rifle. It is unclear if it was more than one assailant but it's assumed it was carried out by multiple parties.
A distraught Alex Murdaugh phoned 911 explaining through sobs that his child and wife have been shot badly. They are believed to have been shot sometime between 9-9:30 pm not long before Alex arrived at the property.
The following morning SLED (the S C law enforcement division) confirmed the identities of the deceased, referring to the incident as a double homicide. However, they said there was no threat to the public. Intriguing.
The burning question is who would’ve wanted to kill members of the Murdaugh family? Well I think we can assume there are a lot of people gunning for the Murdaughs. Maybe it was revenge for a past prosecution? Decades and decades and hundreds of trials have been handled by the Murdaugh dynasty of prosecutors. And son Paul was certainly no angel as we’ve come to discover. Was mother Margaret in the wrong place? Based on evidence it appears it was not a random shooting but rather something well-orchestrated. The twists and meandering turns continue.
Here’s a little more on the old-monied Alex Murdaugh family. After graduating from U. of South Carolina Alex Murdaugh met and married Margaret ‘Maggie’ and they started a family. They had 2 sons first Buster and then Paul. Alex Murdaugh took after his father, his grandfather and great-grandfather, working as a partner at their family-founded law firm in Hampton that was established in 1910.
It wasn’t until the murders of his wife and youngest son that many dark secrets, new allegations and wild chapters to this saga have come to light.
A string of odd twists have come in the 3 months since the murders. On June 25th Alex and surviving son Buster offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who brutally murdered Paul and Maggie. Innocent until proven guilty yes, and I’m not saying for sure that Alex is involved, but my spidey senses are getting a lil tingly. A lot of killers try to throw out a smokescreen by cooperating with authorities. Helping with searches, offering rewards, interviews with the media. Wife-killers Scott Peterson and Drew Peterson (no they aren’t related by blood other than the blood on their hands) both kept a ruse going until they were proven guilty in court of murdering their respective wives. As the pages turn, we may be finding some kind of involvement on the part of Alex Murdaugh.
A relative calm had seemed to come to the media frenzy surrounding the murders of the Murdaughs until things got really thick on the afternoon of September 4th. A 911 call was made by Alex Murdaugh from the side of the road in Hampton County. He’d been shot in the head and survived.
According to his statement to police he had pulled over to fix a flat tire on his Mercedes SUV after seeing a low tire indicator light. A blue truck pulled up alongside him and asked if everything was OK. The person in the truck then pulled out a gun and shot him in the head before speeding off. The bullet grazed his head and was not life-threatening. He was then taken to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia, where he was treated for a "superficial gunshot wound to the head and released. What the FFFFFFF. Who is killing all the Murdaughs of SC.!?
Now here’s where things get really freeakin’ thick. 2 days after this attempted murder on the side of the road by an unknown assailant with a really shitty aim, Alex Murdaugh resigns from his law firm. It seems our man Alex had been struggling with a terrible opioid addiction for the past 20 years, the addiction being exacerbated by the murders of his family, and was entering rehab.
The following day on Sept. 7th, his former law firm released a statement announcing that Alex had misappropriated funds, enormous amounts of funds - millions. That’s a lot of hillbilly heroin. The following day, the South Carolina Supreme Court issues an order suspending Alex Murdaugh's license to practice law in the state. The least of his troubles.
By Sept. 13th authorities announce they have opened an investigation into Alex’s attempted murder and the allegations of misappropriation of funds at his law firm. Then comes the mic drop. The next day authorities say they have arrested and charged a man in Alex Murdaugh's attempted murder in what they allege was a conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
According to the affidavit filed, Murdaugh allegedly conspired with Curtis Edward Smith in the shooting on September 4, providing him with the firearm and instructing Smith to shoot him in the head and kill him.Why? according to the affidavit, so that his son Buster could collect a life insurance payout of approximately $10 million.
Smith, 61, has been charged with assisted suicide; conspiracy to commit insurance fraud; pointing and presenting a firearm; and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. Now here’s the kicker. Smith was a former client of Alex Murdaugh who had previously represented him in a personal injury lawsuit that Smith brought against a land management company. And apparently Smith was Alex’s primary source for the opioids to feed his addiction and charged him top dollar to get those drugs. This seems to be where some of those misappropriated funds were funneled.
Alex Murdaugh was arrested on September 16th and is charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, along with filing a false police report. He was released on a 20,000 bond and allowed to return to rehab while the case is further investigated. Phew!
Now back to the other pending investigation tied to the Murdaughs (Paul Murdaugh) that was reopened in large part due to the murders of Margaret and Paul and testimony from the rumor mill. Stephen Smith, the young man that was found dead along the rural road in 2015.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) said it was opening an investigation into the death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith. Like the probe of the 2019 boat crash that killed Mallory Beach, the 2015 investigation into Smith’s death was chaotic from the beginning — derailed by jurisdictional obscurity and suspicions of investigative interference.
At the time, police said Smith had a massive head wound and they believed he'd been struck by a vehicle. No suspect was ever charged.
Authorities have not revealed exactly what new information led them to reopen the investigation into Smith's death but it was triggered by info they have uncovered in the Murdaugh double homicide. Steven Smith and Paul Murdaugh’s older brother Buster, 25, were classmates at Wade Hampton High School.
The Murdaughs have currently not been accused of wrongdoing in his case, and no evidence has yet connected the family to Smith's death…. not yet.
However Smith's mother recently said that she doesn't believe her son was the victim of a hit-and-run. Here’s what we do know:
Smith was found dead just before 4:00 a.m. on July 8, 2015 in the middle of a rural Road in Hampton County, South Carolina, his loosely tied shoes were still on his feet. His head was bruised and misshapen by blunt force and his shoulder dislocated. There were no tire marks or debris from a vehicle found at the scene after several searches.
Steven Smith’s car was found parked three miles away along a highway with the gas cap missing
Apparently there was some dispute between police on the scene about the cause of Smith’s death. Investigators that night deliberated over a cause- a gunshot homicide or a hit and run accident. South Carolina Highway Patrol officers were told it wasn’t a vehicular accident so they didn’t have to be at the autopsy. The pathologist that conducted the autopsy then ruled that Stephen Smith was in fact killed in a hit-and-run crash but was reported to have become hostile toward 2 different SC HP officers when they questioned her as to why she ruled Stephen’s death a vehicle accident. This ruling was in direct conflict with what the coroner reported - that he didn’t believe Stephen’s death was a hit and run. This reopened investigation is now in the hands of SLED.
The rumors of Paul Murdaugh’s hands in this makes this all the more intriguing.
And that brings up to date with the latest in this crazy Murdaugh family saga. What a family. What a deeply sad true crime drama. This would or maybe will make one HELL of a documentary series.
And not to make light of the tragedy, but Paul Murdaugh sounds like he was a very troubled young man. The poor little rich kid that got away with everything. Somebody or somebodies weren’t having any more of it and it’s really tragic. I especially feel for the mother Margaret who by most accounts I’ve read was a very sweet woman. And other son Buster has kept a clean nose, and now is largely alone.
Well if the past is any indication of the future this isn’t the last we’ve heard of the Murdaughs. Stay tuned…