Murdaugh family

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Beaufort Gazette, 1920: Randolph Murdaugh Sr., candidate for solicitor of the 14th judicial district

The Murdaugh family (/ˈmɜːrdɒk/ MUR-dok) was an affluent American family that has lived in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina since the 18th century. Three generations named Randolph Murdaugh served consecutively as circuit solicitor (the elected prosecuting attorney) for the state's 14th judicial district between 1920 and 2006; the family's status led locals to call the five-county district "Murdaugh Country". In 1910, Randolph Murdaugh Sr. founded the civil litigation firm that is now The Parker Law Group in Hampton, South Carolina, which now specializes in personal injury litigation.

Richard "Alex" Murdaugh and other members of the Murdaugh family have been the subject of investigations involving murder, wrongful death, corruption, fraud, witness intimidation, theft and drug and alcohol-related charges. In 2019 Alex's son, Paul Murdaugh, was charged with three felony counts[1] relating to a fatal boating accident, with later allegations of special treatment. In June 2021, Paul and Alex's wife Maggie were shot and killed on the grounds of "Moselle," the Murdaugh hunting estate. Alex was subsequently charged with their murders. He was also accused of embezzlement from his law firm and resigned in September 2021.

After being incarcerated since October 2021, Alex Murdaugh's murder trial began in January 2023 and ended in March 2023, with Alex being found guilty of murdering his wife and son and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole. The case generated extensive media coverage, including the Netflix series Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal.

Early history[edit]

The family is descended from Lazurus Brown Murdaugh, who was born in Nansemond County in the British Colony of Virginia in 1774 and later moved to South Carolina.[citation needed]

14th District[edit]

A map showing the judicial circuit districts of South Carolina

From 1920 to 2006, three members of the Murdaugh family served as the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th circuit solicitors for the five-county area of South Carolina's Lowcountry region within the 14th Judicial district;[2][3] the Murdaugh's influence in the area led to it being colloquially known as "Murdaugh Country."[4] In South Carolina, the solicitor, analogous to the district attorney in other U.S. jurisdictions, is in charge of prosecuting all criminal cases in the jurisdiction.[5] The 14th circuit district oversees Allendale, Colleton, Hampton, Beaufort, and Jasper counties. It is the only judicial circuit in the state to cover five counties.[6] According to columnist Kathleen Parker, jurisdiction of the 14th circuit district was known as "Murdaugh Country", where the justice system of the 14th circuit district was regarded as rigged and local attorneys would make a motion to settle a case rather than go to trial there.[4]

The Murdaugh family was one of South Carolina's most prominent legal families for nearly a century and were featured in the cover story for a 1989 issue of Carolina Lawyer magazine.[7][8] Because of the family's decades-long control of the office of solicitor, they wielded enormous judicial and political power for almost a century.[9] After several Murdaugh family members were implicated in a fatal boating accident in 2019, and after two family members were murdered in a double homicide in 2021, the family's influence on the local judicial system was scrutinized.[10]

Family law firm[edit]

The Murdaugh family law firm, formerly known as Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED), specialized in personal injury litigation. PMPED built its success in the early 2000s due to a state law that made it easier for plaintiffs to forum shop. The law permitted South Carolina residents "to file a suit in any county in which an out-of-state company own[ed] property and conduct[ed] business—regardless of where an accident took place."[11] In Hampton County, trial judges generally avoided transferring cases, and plaintiffs' attorneys had a reputation for abusing subpoena power. This legal climate led to the 14th circuit district being named the third worst "judicial hellhole for defendants" by the American Tort Reform Association.[12] Because of PMPED's success in suing CSX Transportation, the county was known as a "site of pilgrimage" for those with personal injury lawsuits against railroads; PMPED's offices became known locally as "the house that CSX built".[9] Due to the firm's activities, doing business in Hampton County became a legal liability, resulting in the county losing potential employers.[11]

Reforms enacted in 2005 by both the state supreme court and state legislature changed South Carolina's corporate venue law, ending plaintiffs' ability to easily forum shop in Hampton County.[13] PMPED changed its name to The Parker Law Group in 2022 shortly before Alex Murdaugh's murder trial.[14]

Murdaugh hunting estate[edit]

The Murdaugh family hunting estate was called Moselle. It was the location where Alex Murdaugh murdered his wife and son. After the convictions of Alex Murdaugh, it was partitioned into two sections: the house and about 20 acres of land; and the rest of the property which consisted primarily of woodland. The woodland section was sold in 2023 for about $4 million. The house and 20 acres was sold in 2024 for $1 million to a buyer who planned to run a horse farm. The house includes a cottage with a game room, and dog kennels.[15]

Notable members[edit]

Randolph Murdaugh Sr.[edit]

Randolph Murdaugh Sr. was born in Varnville in 1887, the youngest son of Josiah Putnam Murdaugh II, a wealthy Lowcountry businessman, and Annie Marvin Murdaugh (née Davis).[16][17] His maternal grandfather, Joseph W. Davis, was a cousin of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.[18] Randolph Sr. attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated from the University of South Carolina (USC) law school in 1910.[8][19] After graduation, he founded a one-man law firm in Hampton, South Carolina, 78 miles (126 kilometers) west of Charleston,[17] and ran a local daily newspaper called The Hampton County Herald.[6] He married Etta Causey Harvey in 1914 and they had two sons together, Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh Jr. and John Glen “Johnny” Murdaugh.[16]

In 1920 Randolph Sr. became solicitor in the 14th judicial circuit. He held the position until 1940, when he was killed in a collision between his car and a Charleston and Western Carolina (C&WC) freight train at a grade crossing outside Varnville.[19]

John Glen “Johnny” Murdaugh

Randolph Sr.'s youngest son, Johnny Murdaugh (1918–1987), joined the United States Army and served as a paratrooper in World War II. He was the highest decorated veteran of that war from Hampton County, receiving a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. After the war he retired to become a farmer.[16]

Randolph "Buster" Murdaugh Jr.[edit]

Randolph Sr. was succeeded by his son, Randolph "Buster" Murdaugh Jr., who served as circuit solicitor from 1940 to 1986.[20] In his forty-six years in office, Buster ran opposed only twice.[6] A few months after the accident, Buster sued the C&WC, claiming that poor maintenance of the grade crossing had contributed to his father's death. Although there was speculation that the crash wasn't an accident, with some believing that Randolph Sr. intentionally stopped his car on the tracks to commit suicide or that the crash was alcohol-related, the C&WC settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum.[18]

Buster was known for "his love of chewing tobacco, his courtroom prowess and his flair for acting out murders before spellbound juries".[9] According to Professor John Blume of Cornell Law School, Buster was rebuked several times by the state supreme court for improper closing arguments in death penalty cases and for arguing in a rape case that if the defendant was acquitted he would release other accused rapists. In 1956 he was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly warning a bootlegger to move a moonshine still into a neighboring county to avoid revenuers; he was acquitted. Buster retired in 1986 and died in 1998.[9]

Randolph Murdaugh III[edit]

Buster was succeeded as solicitor by his son, Randolph Murdaugh III, who took office in 1986.[21] He ran unopposed in every election and held office until retiring in 2006.[6] Randolph III was married to Elizabeth Alexander[22] and had four children including three sons, Randolph IV (called Randy) and Richard Alexander (called Alex, b. May 27, 1968),[23] both of whom entered PMPED; and John Marvin.[24] In 2019 Randolph III was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian recognition, by Governor Henry McMaster.[9] He retired in 2006 and died of natural causes June 10, 2021.[25]

Alex Murdaugh[edit]

Richard Alexander "Alex" Murdaugh was born May 27, 1968.[26] He graduated from University of South Carolina in 1990 and from University of South Carolina's School of Law in 1994.[27] He soon joined PMPED, volunteering part-time in the 14th circuit solicitor's office. Alex married Margaret Kennedy Branstetter (called Maggie)[28] and had two sons, Richard (called Buster) and Paul. On March 2, 2023, Alex was convicted of the shooting deaths of Margaret and Paul and is currently serving two life sentences in prison, without the possibility of parole.[29]

Maggie Murdaugh[edit]

Margaret “Maggie” Kennedy Branstetter Murdaugh (September 15, 1968 – June 7, 2021) was an American socialite from South Carolina who was Alex Murdaugh's wife until her uxoricide.

Buster Murdaugh[edit]

Richard Alexander “Buster” Murdaugh, Jr. (b. 1996) surviving son of Alex and Maggie Murdaugh. He graduated from Wofford College in 2018 and followed in his father's footsteps enrolling in the University of South Carolina School of Law, but was expelled after his first year for plagiarism. It has been widely reported that Alex attempted to use the Murdaugh family's wealth and connections to get Buster re-admitted to law school at USC.[30]

The case file from the initial South Carolina Highway Patrol investigation into the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, a nursing student at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and former high school classmate of Buster's who was found dead in the middle of a country road near the Murdaugh's Moselle estate shows that the Murdaughs including Buster were mentioned dozens of times by both witnesses and investigators as possibly being involved. Buster was alleged to have had a relationship with Smith who was openly gay. Buster has repeatedly denied any involvement in Smith's death stating: "These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false."[31] Buster also claimed in a televised interview on Fox Nation that he was at their beach house in Edisto Beach with his mother and brother when Smith was killed.[32]

Along with his parents who owned the boat, Buster was also implicated in the fatal 2019 boat crash because he had loaned his ID to younger brother Paul who was underaged so he could illegally buy alcohol. In January 2023 Buster reached a settlement with accident victim Mallory Beach’s family and three other passengers involved in the fatal crash.[33]

According to his testimony, Buster, who maintains his father's innocence, was over 200 miles away at his girlfriend's house in Rock Hill when the murders of Maggie and Paul took place. After receiving a phone call from Alex telling him that his mother and brother had been shot dead, he said he immediately drove to Moselle.[34] Following the murders of Maggie and Paul, and the exposure of his multi-million dollar fraud that led to his resignation from his family's law firm, Alex allegedly hatched a plot for his former client and distant cousin Curtis Edward Smith to kill him so Buster could collect on his $10 million life insurance policy.[35]

Paul Murdaugh[edit]

At the time of his murder, Paul Terry Murdaugh (April 14, 1999 – June 7, 2021) was under criminal indictment for the wrongful death of Mallory Beach. However, her death was not the motive for Alex's murder of Paul.[36][22][28] He was a student at the University of South Carolina and had a summer job working at his uncle John Marvin Murdaugh's Kubota tractor dealership.[37]

Alex Murdaugh murders and other legal issues[edit]

As of April 2024, Alex Murdaugh faced a total of 102 grand jury criminal charges and nineteen indictments relating to fraud and drug offenses. There were three charges from the Hampton County grand jury and ninety-nine from the State Grand Jury. Murdaugh is also a defendant in three separate lawsuits. He has been disbarred, has had his assets seized, and is currently serving two consecutive life sentences for the murders of his wife and son.

Ongoing investigations and legal actions[edit]

Murder of Stephen Smith[edit]

On July 8, 2015, Stephen Smith, a 19-year-old nursing student at Orangeburg–Calhoun Technical College, was found dead from blunt force trauma on a rural road in Hampton County near[clarification needed] the Murdaugh family's Moselle estate. The case was initially ruled a hit and run, with no suspects arrested.[38][39][40] Smith was openly gay and a high school classmate of Alex's oldest son, Buster.[41] Witnesses interviewed as part of the original investigation repeatedly implicated Buster as having been involved in a relationship with Smith, but the case went cold.[39][42] According to The Greenville News, "rumors hinting at a cover-up and the possible involvement of one or more members of the Murdaugh family ... began circulating around the Hampton County area" soon after Smith's death.[38] According to the Beaufort County Island Packet, the case "reeked of insider interference".[43]

In June 2021, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) re-opened the investigation into Smith's death, based on evidence found while investigating the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.[44] On March 22, 2023, SLED announced Smith's death was a murder and not a hit and run accident.[45] No charges or indictments have been issued relating to Smith's killing as of April 2024.[46] Buster released a statement to the press denying his involvement, in which he said that "these baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false."[47]

Death of Gloria Satterfield[edit]

On February 2, 2018, the Murdaughs' longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, suffered a severe head injury when she allegedly was tripped by one of the Murdaugh's dogs and fell down the front steps of the family home on the Moselle estate. She died in a hospital on February 26, 2018, of complications related to the fall, including a stroke. The incident had been reported as a "trip and fall" accident, but no coroner was notified, no autopsy was performed and the death certificate, incongruously, attributed the death to "natural causes." A coroner testified that describing her death on the death certificate as "natural" was improper.[48]

Satterfield's two sons were awarded a $4.3 million insurance policy payout from the Murdaugh's insurer for her accidental and/or natural death, but by 2021 they had not received any money. According to multiple indictments, Alex Murdaugh, banker Chad Westendorf and attorney Cory Fleming conspired to steal the payout by diverting the money to Alex's bank account, then not notifying the Satterfields that the payout had occurred. The Satterfields, represented by malpractice attorney Eric Bland,[49] were ultimately able to recover more than $6.5 million during subsequent lawsuits.[50][51][52]

On September 15, 2021, authorities announced they opened a criminal investigation into Gloria Satterfield's death. In June 2022, authorities received permission to exhume her body to continue investigating her death.[53][54]

On November 28, 2023, Murdaugh pleaded guilty to embezzling the insurance money and was sentenced to 27-years in prison for this and other financial crimes. See Murdaugh family#Federal indictment 22 counts.

Death of Mallory Beach[edit]

In February 2019, Alex's younger son, Paul Murdaugh, was charged with three felonies following the death of his teenage friend, Mallory Beach, in a boating accident.[3][22][36] Paul's blood alcohol content was .286, over three times the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle (though at the time of the accident, Paul was underage and the legal limit did not apply); yet, despite being the driver of the boat, Paul was not given a field sobriety test, was not taken to jail for booking, nor was he ever handcuffed. This led to the speculation that he had received special treatment owing to his family connections.[3][25][10][55] The judge denied a prosecutorial request that he wear an alcohol monitor.[3][55]

In their wrongful death lawsuit against the Murdaughs, Beach's family implicated Alex and Buster in providing alcohol to the then-underage Paul.[56][57] As of September 2021, SLED was investigating allegations that police may have been pressured not to charge Paul.[7] The family of Connor Cook, one of the teens aboard the boat during the accident, filed a lawsuit claiming Alex had encouraged them to retain Fleming in order to orchestrate the protection of Paul.[52]

The Beach case began the unraveling of Alex's criminal enterprise by exposing information that led to an inquiry into his alleged financial wrongdoing. In the days before the killing of Maggie and Paul, a judge had scheduled a hearing to consider a motion to compel Alex to turn over his financial records. Likewise, Maggie had arranged for a forensic accountant to review the family finances.[3][25][58]

Assisted suicide fraud[edit]

On September 3, 2021, Alex resigned from PMPED after the firm confronted him over suspected embezzlement.[25] According to The New York Times, the amount involved was "in the millions."[25] From this point forward, "Alex Murdaugh's house of cards began to collapse", and the case became a national sensation making regular mainstream headlines.[54]

The following day, Alex was allegedly shot in the head while changing a tire on a rural road. He claimed a truck slowed down, shot him, and drove away. The injury was superficial, and he was released from the hospital soon after.[59] On September 6, Alex released a statement saying he was entering a rehabilitation facility in Orlando, Florida, for substance abuse treatment.[3]

On September 14, SLED announced that Alex's former client and distant cousin, Curtis Edward Smith – who had also been Alex's source for an oxycodone addiction – had been arrested for having conspired with Alex to kill him in the roadside shooting so that his remaining son Buster would receive a $10 million insurance payout. Smith was charged with assisted suicide, aggravated assault and battery, and insurance fraud. Alex, suffering from "massive depression," and wanting to kill himself, admitted to concocting the assisted suicide as a murder scheme. He claimed he was motivated by a mistaken belief that Buster would not receive the insurance money if Alex committed suicide himself.[60] On November 4, the Hampton County grand jury issued three charges against Alex in the assisted suicide scheme.[61][62]

Embezzlement[edit]

Attorney Justin Bamberg represents eight people, including the sons of Gloria Satterfield, from whom he says Alex stole money while serving as their lawyer.[63] He later said the total number of embezzlement victims might be between thirty and fifty, and the total amount stolen could be as high as $20 million. According to the Island Packet, it is unclear what became of the money.[64]

Hakeem Pinckney was a deaf African-American man involved in a 2009 traffic accident that required permanent life support. Murdaugh personally represented Pinckney's family in a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the tires on the vehicle; the family was awarded a settlement. In 2011, Pinckney died at a care facility after his ventilator was, according to a Pinckney lawyer, "mysteriously unplugged".[65] PMPED handled a wrongful death lawsuit against the care facility. Murdaugh allegedly introduced Pinckney's family to Russell Laffitte, the CEO of Palmetto State Bank, to manage the Pinckney finances due to the size of the settlements. The Pinckneys received some money, but an estimated $800,000 to $1 million went missing. In January 2022, the board of Palmetto State Bank fired Laffitte after allegations came to light that he conspired with Alex to defraud Pinckney.[66][65][67]

The family of Blondell Gray, who was killed in an ambulance crash in 2012, is currently owed more than $112,000 which was stolen by Alex.[63] The mother of Sandra Taylor, a Beaufort resident killed by a drunk driver in Colleton County in 2019, received only $30,000 of an $180,000 settlement.[63]

Murdaugh pleaded guilty and was sentenced on November 28, 2023 to 27-years in prison for these and other financial crimes. See Murdaugh family#Federal indictment 22 counts.

Charges for narcotics distribution[edit]

In June 2022, Alex Murdaugh was indicted on two counts by the State Grand Jury related to conspiring with accomplice Curtis Edward Smith (a distant cousin) to purchase and distribute narcotics using a money-laundering scheme involving $2.4 million in stolen money. The indictment alleges that Murdaugh and Smith used hundreds of illegal transactions "to facilitate the acquisition and distribution of illegally obtained narcotics" in several counties throughout South Carolina over eight years starting in 2013.[68][69]

Lindsey Edwards allegations[edit]

In August 2022, a South Carolina-based former sex worker named Lindsey Edwards was interviewed on FITSNews. She claimed she first "serviced" Alex Murdaugh at a private party with other locally powerful unnamed men where drugs were being consumed. She said the encounter turned into rape when he began choking her as she clawed at his arms to escape while being "violently penetrated". Edwards said normally such an encounter would be handled by her madam's bouncer, but the madam chose not to intervene because the madam had an exchange of services agreement with Murdaugh. Edwards alleged at least three more similar violent "sessions" with Murdaugh in which she was beaten and where she was forced to service Murdaugh against her will by the madam and her armed bouncer. The accusations are being investigated by SLED.[70]

Forge Consulting lawsuit[edit]

On September 12, 2022, Forge Consulting announced it would file a lawsuit against Alex Murdaugh and Bank of America because Forge "suffered serious harm to its business reputation and credibility because of Murdaugh and BoA". Forge alleges Murdaugh "set up a fake bank account using the Forge brand to take millions of dollars from his clients and colleagues" and further blames BoA for not doing basic due diligence to detect the fraud.[71]

Santis-Cristiani lawsuit[edit]

On October 7, 2022, a lawsuit named Murdaugh, Crosby, Barnes, the PMPED firm, Laffitte, and Palmetto State Bank as part of a conspiracy to defraud plaintiff Manuel Santis-Cristiani of Chiapas, Mexico, of accident settlement money he was awarded but never received.[72]

Criminal tax evasion[edit]

On December 16, 2022, Alex Murdaugh was indicted by the State Grand Jury on nine charges of evading nearly $487,000 in state income taxes. The indictment reflects that he stole nearly $7 million meant for his law firm's bank accounts and failed to pay taxes on the ill-gotten gains.[73][74]

Convictions, civil judgments, settlements, and sanctions[edit]

Asset custody[edit]

In September 2021, Murdaugh gave broad powers of attorney to his son Buster, including the power to sell and dispose of his assets, which Buster proceeded to do. The Moselle property that was the scene of the murders of Maggie and Paul was rebranded as "Cross Swamp Farm" and listed for sale with an asking price of $3.9 million, and the Edisto beach house was placed on the market for $920,000.00[75] On November 1, a judge ordered the Murdaugh assets to be frozen. Buster and Alex sought to overturn it, saying they had no money to pay for food, medical insurance and utilities.[76][77][78]

Murdaugh's assets were placed into a receivership, created because evidence suggested the Murdaugh family was moving and hiding money from potential creditors, including multiple plaintiffs. The Murdaugh family and attorneys have been trying to unwind the receivership in civil court.[79]

Physical custody[edit]

On October 14, 2021, concurrent with his release from the drug rehabilitation facility in Orlando, Murdaugh was taken into custody by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) on two felony counts of Obtaining Property by False Pretenses, related to the Satterfield case.[80][81] Body cam footage of the arrest suggested he had "significant diarrhea issues" related to opioid withdraw.[82][83]

Murdaugh was offered bail on the fraud charges, set at $7 million, which he could not pay and remained in jail. After the murder charges of his wife and son, Murdaugh was denied bail entirely.[84]

Murdaugh has been held in custody at Alvin Glenn Detention Center in Richland County from October 14, 2021.[85] On March 3, 2023, when he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife and son, Murdaugh was taken to the Kirkland Correctional Institution, in northwestern Columbia, South Carolina, where he was to be evaluated for about 45 days to determine which maximum-security prison he would be sent to.[86]

Disbarment[edit]

On July 12, 2022, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued an official order disbarring Murdaugh from the practice of law in South Carolina. It was based on Murdaugh's "admitted reprehensible misconduct." Murdaugh was allowed to contest the disbarment but did not.[87]

Murders of Maggie and Paul[edit]

On June 7, 2021, Alex called police from his cell phone at 10:06 p.m., saying he had discovered the bodies of 22-year-old son Paul and 52-year-old wife Maggie near the dog kennels at the family's hunting lodge located on a 1,772-acre estate in Islandton, South Carolina.[3] Both had been shot multiple times and with different weapons.[88] Alex initially claimed that at the time of the killings he had been with his mother, who has dementia.[89] It has been revealed that Maggie was considering ending her marriage to Alex and had consulted a divorce lawyer in Charleston, South Carolina several weeks prior to the murders.[90]

In October 2021, it was revealed that South Carolina Law Enforcement Division had regarded Alex as a person of interest in the homicides since the start of the investigation.[89] In July 2022, Alex Murdaugh was indicted for the murder of his wife, Maggie, and his son, Paul.[91] Prosecutors suggested a motive where Murdaugh sought a distraction from his financial crimes, which were beginning to go public, and to garner sympathy.[92] Alex pleaded not guilty.[93] On March 2, 2023, Alex Murdaugh was convicted of both murders. The following day, he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.[94]

Fraud and money laundering charges[edit]

State indictments[edit]

On November 19, 2021, the State Grand Jury issued five indictments against Alex Murdaugh on 27 charges of embezzlement and other crimes, including breach of trust, fraudulent intent, money laundering, computer crimes, and forgery. The victims were Thomas L. Moore (patrol officer), Deon J. Martin, Gloria Satterfield (Murdaugh housekeeper), and Manuel Santis-Cristiani. Altogether the fraud amount was close to $4.8 million resulting in 88 criminal charges.[95][96] On December 9, an additional 21 criminal charges were filed connected to an alleged scheme that sought to defraud victims of more than $6 million.[97][98]

On January 21, 2022, the State Grand Jury issued a further 23 criminal charges, which included 19 breaches of trust with fraudulent intent, and four counts of computer crimes. The indictments allege that he stole more than $2.6 million from clients Natarsha Thomas, Arthur Badger, Deon Martin, and the family of Hakeem Pinckney.[99][100][101] On March 16, 2022, the State Grand Jury issued a superseding indictment against Murdaugh and Cory Howerton Fleming that includes four new charges against Murdaugh related to an alleged scheme to defraud multiple insurance companies in the course of surreptitiously delivering to Murdaugh a share of the proceeds.[102]

A further round of superseding indictments against Murdaugh were issued in April 2022 involving four charges of conspiring with former banker Russell Lucius Laffitte, and former attorney Cory Howerton Fleming.[103] On August 19, 2022, the State Grand Jury issued a new round of indictments against Murdaugh, Spencer Anwan Roberts, and Jerry K. Rivers. Murdaugh was indicted on nine charges related to the theft of $295,000 from his brother and his old law firm.[104][105]

The indictments indicate he may have stolen nearly $8.8 million from more than a dozen people.[104] The indictments allege crimes back to at least 2011. Murdaugh would secretly negotiate a settlement for his clients, then pay them only enough so they would be content and thankful; he would then steal the rest. His clients were usually minorities who were not well off. They included an injured state trooper, a deaf quadriplegic, a widower, an immigrant, several minors and even dead people. Murdaugh allegedly used money orders given to an unnamed family member to help launder the cash.[106] Although some of the amounts to Fleming and Laffitte overlap as to the alleged amounts for Murdaugh, the State Grand Jury indicted Fleming on 23 charges for schemes to defraud victims of over $3.7 million. Laffitte had 21 charges against him for schemes to defraud victims of over $1.8 million.[103] On September 14, 2023, Cory Fleming was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his role in stealing the insurance policy settlement.[107] In August, Russell Laffitte was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in stealing money from insurance settlements.[107]

Under a plea deal, the indictments were reduced from 101 to 22, and were to be tried in state court. On November 17, 2023, Murdaugh pleaded guilty to all 22 of the charges in the state indictment.[108] On November 29, 2023, he was sentenced to 27 years in prison for the state financial crimes.[109]

Federal indictment 22 counts[edit]

On May 24, 2023, the US Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina announced that a federal grand jury returned an indictment of 22 counts for money laundering, wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud for a total of $12,425,254.32.[110][111][112] Prosecutors chose 22 of the charges that were most representative of the victims.[110]

On April 1, 2024, Murdaugh was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for his financial fraud crimes, to run concurrently with previous sentences (for murder and for state financial crimes), and to pay reparations of $8.7 million to his victims, including the family of his former housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, after evidence of additional crimes was introduced.[113]

Media portrayals[edit]

The family and the criminal case against Alex Murdaugh has been the subject of several documentaries, docuseries, and podcasts.[114] Some notable examples include:

Family tree[edit]

The family tree is as follows:

  • Lazurus Brown Murdaugh (1774–1830)[119]
    • Josiah Putnam Murdaugh (1793–1882) m. Mary Ursula Varn
      • Josiah Putnam Murdaugh II (1830–1912) m. Annie Marvin Davis[16]
        • Randolph Murdaugh Sr. (1887–1940) m. Etta Harvey in 1914[16]
          • John Glen “Johnny” Murdaugh (1918–1987) m. Maryland Russell[16]
          • Randolph "Buster" Murdaugh Jr. (1915–1998) m. Gladys Marvin[16]
            • Randolph Murdaugh III (1939–2021) m. Elizabeth "Libby" Alexander in 1961[120]
              • Lynn Murdaugh (b. 1963) m. Allen Goettee[16]
              • Randolph "Randy" Murdaugh IV (b. 1966)[16] m. Christy Michele Miley[121]
              • Richard Alexander "Alex" Murdaugh (b. 1968) m. Margaret Kennedy "Maggie" Branstetter[16]
                • Richard Alexander "Buster" Murdaugh Jr. (b. 1996)[16]
                • Paul Terry Murdaugh (1999–2021)[22]
              • John Marvin Murdaugh (b. 1970)[16] m. Elizabeth Anne "Liz" Arnett in 2008[122]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jr, Michael M. DeWitt. "Murdaugh boat crash: Charges officially dropped against Paul Murdaugh". Bluffton Today. Retrieved March 31, 2023.
  2. ^ "14th Circuit Solicitor's Office History". scsolicitor14.org. 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Baker, KC (September 7, 2021). "'Big Family, Old Money, New Drama': Inside the Powerful S.C. Family at Center of Murder Mystery". People. Archived from the original on September 9, 2021. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Parker, Kathleen (September 8, 2021). "Opinion: The shocking saga of South Carolina's Murdaugh family". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on February 5, 2023. Retrieved March 3, 2023.
  5. ^ "What is a Circuit Solicitor?". South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination. Archived from the original on February 7, 2023. Retrieved March 3, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d DeWitt, Michael M. (June 24, 2021). "Throwback Thursday: The Randolph Murdaughs of Hampton County". Augusta Chronicle. Archived from the original on July 27, 2021. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Attorney Whose Wife And Son Were Killed Was Stealing From His Law Firm, Company Says". NPR.org. September 7, 2021. Archived from the original on September 9, 2021. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  8. ^ a b De Witt, Michael M. Jr. "Law firm celebrates 100 years". The Hampton County Guardian. Archived from the original on October 8, 2010. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  9. ^ a b c d e Monk, John; Delaney, Cody (April 5, 2019). "Powerful SC family faces scrutiny following boat crash that killed 19-year-old woman". The State. Archived from the original on September 10, 2021. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Lauderdale, David (July 30, 2021). "A note to SC judicial system and Murdaughs: You've lost the public's trust". The Island Packet. Archived from the original on September 10, 2021. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
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