Colleton County, SC – Authorities announced on Thursday that a Colleton County grand jury had indicted a member of a South Carolina legal dynasty for the 2021 murders of his wife and 22-year-old son.
Richard Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh, Sr., who is already behind bars on 85 charges that included fleecing clients out of millions of dollars, was charged on July 14 with two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, FITSNews reported.
Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey said that both 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh and his mother, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, had both been shot multiple times between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on June 7, 2021, the Island Packet reported.
Murdaugh told police he wasn’t there when his wife and son were killed and claimed to have found their bodies and called 911 when he returned home that night to the family’s hunting lodge, Moselle, in Islandton.
He claimed he had been spending time with his mother who is suffering from dementia, the Island Packet reported.
Sources said that part of the indictment said investigators had found cell phone video that put Murdaugh at the scene of his wife and son’s murders shortly before they were killed and contradicts the timeline that he had previously given to law enforcement.
The indictments confirmed that Maggie was killed with a semiautomatic rifle and Paul was shot in the upper body and head with a shotgun, FITSNews reported.
High-velocity impact spatter was found on the clothes Murdaugh was wearing.
Sources said Murdaugh allegedly lured Maggie to Moselle under the guise of visiting his dying father, FITSNews reported.
Alex’s father, Randolph, died two days after his grandson and daughter-in-law were murdered, FOX News reported.
For 100 years, Murdaughs have ruled South Carolina’s 14th Judicial Circuit, which includes Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, Allendale, and Jasper counties, both as prosecutors and in private practice, NBC News reported.
Until very recently, the 53-year-old Murdaugh served as a part-time prosecutor for the 14th Judicial Circuit and was a partner in the law firm founded his by great-grandfather in Hampton more than 100 years ago.
Alex’s father, Randolph Murdaugh III, was also a 14th Circuit Solicitor.
Randolph’s father and grandfather had been the prosecutors for Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties before that, according to NBC News.
But things started going sideways for the family dynasty in 2019 after Murdaugh’s youngest son, then 20-year-old Paul Murdaugh, was charged with three felonies in connection with the death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
Beach died after she was thrown from a boat that crashed while Paul was allegedly piloting it under the influence after a day of drinking and partying with older family members.
The family’s prominence and legal connections raised questions after Beach’s death.
Early on, 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone asked South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson to reassign the cases if charges were brought because three of the people on the boat had relatives who worked in his office, the Island Packet reported.
Then the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office asked to be recused from the investigation due to its “long-standing relationship” with Paul’s grandfather.
Beach’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in March of 2019 against a convenience store, Murdaugh, and his oldest son, Richard Alexander “Buster” Murdaugh Jr., for serving alcohol to underage people the night of the boat crash, WJCL reported.
A month later, Paul was indicted for boating under the influence causing death and two counts of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury.
Those charges were dismissed after the 22 year old was murdered.
Things further unraveled when Murdaugh called 911 at 1:34 p.m. on Sept. 4, 2021 and claimed he had been shot while changing his tire on the side of the road in Hampton County, the Island Packet reported.
Alex told police that he had been shot by a man in a blue pickup truck, WJCL reported.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) said Alex was airlifted to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia with “a superficial gunshot wound to the head.”
Two days later, Alex was released from the hospital and announced he was going into drug rehab and had resigned from his family’s legacy law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED), FOX News reported.
It turned out that Alex had been confronted by his law partners a day earlier over what sources have said was millions of dollars in missing money, according to The State.
Murdaugh told South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigators that he had hired a man to kill him so that his surviving son, Buster, could collect a $10 million life insurance policy.
Attorneys for Alex said that he had been battling an opioid addiction for more than 20 years and the man who shot him was one of his drug dealers.