Islandton, SC – The county coroner announced that the mother and son from a prominent South Carolina family who were found dead in the yard of their rural estate in Islandton were both murdered.
Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey told the Island Packet on Monday 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.
Harvey said he completed the autopsies on June 10 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Alex Murdaugh, Maggie’s husband and Paul’s father, found the bodies in the yard of the family’s “Moselle” hunting lodge, FOX News reported.
Alex told police he wasn’t there at the time of the murders.
Law enforcement sources told the Island Packet that Paul was shot in the upper body and head by a shotgun, the Island Packet reported.
The sources said investigators believed his mother was killed by a semi-automatic rifle.
Police have been investigating whether Paul was the target of the shooting, FOX News reported.
At the time of his death, Paul was facing three felony charges in connection with a 2019 boat crash in Beaufort County that left 19-year-old Mallory Beach dead, the Island Packet reported.
Prosecutors allege Paul was driving intoxicated when he crashed the boat, NBC News reported.
Beach was thrown overboard by the impact and her body wasn’t found until a week later.
The death of the teenage girl and the double murder have both gotten considerable media attention because the Murdaugh family is well-known in South Carolina legal circles, NBC News reported.
For 14 years, Murdaughs have ruled the 14th Judicial Circuit where Paul’s crimes allegedly occurred.
Alex, Paul’s father, currently serves as a part-time prosecutor for the 14th Judicial Circuit and his father, Randolph Murdaugh III, was a former 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.
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.
Randolph died two days after his grandson and daughter-in-law were murdered, FOX News reported.
His law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, announced that Randolph had died on June 10 but did not reveal his cause of death.
The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office turned the investigation of Paul and Maggie’s murders over to the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for investigation, FOX News reported.
SLED spokesperson Tommy Crosby said the agency had been in contact with the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office but has not released any details related to the investigation, the Island Packet reported.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said that in light of Paul’s death, the charges against him had been dismissed.
However, the office said the investigation into Beach’s death will remain open, the Island Packet reported.