Alex Murdaugh, 53, has been investigated by law enforcement officials ‘from the get-go’ as part of the probe into the June 7 double-murder of wife Maggie, 52, and their son, Paul, according to attorney Jim Griffin
The South Carolina legal heir who hired a hit man to kill him in a botched suicide plot so that his child could collect on a life insurance policy is a person of interest in the slayings of his wife and 22-year-old son, his lawyer confirmed.
Alex Murdaugh, 53, has been investigated by law enforcement officials ‘from the get-go’ as part of the probe into the June 7 double-murder of wife Maggie, 52, and their son, Paul, according to Jim Griffin.
Griffin, a lawyer representing Alex Murdaugh, made the revelation to The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
But the attorney denies that his client had anything to do with the killings. He says Alex Murdaugh was visiting his mother, who is stricken with dementia, at the time of the killings and ‘had no motive to kill them.’
‘You would think that if Alex was the one who did it, that SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) would have been able to establish that pretty easily that night,’ Griffin said.
‘You would think they would have searched his house and found blood somewhere.
‘You would think they would have found the murder weapons on the property.
‘You would think they would come up with something to link Alex to the murders, forensically or independent evidence.
‘To my knowledge, they have not done that.’
DailyMail.com reported on Tuesday that the Murdaughs’ marriage was a relationship in crisis as Maggie demanded answers about their dwindling funds and they repeatedly argued over money and his drug use in the weeks before her brutal shooting.
According to a source, who has known the family for more than three years and spoke on condition of anonymity, ‘Their marriage was absolutely on the rocks.’
‘Alex and Maggie didn’t look at each other like they were married,’ the source said.
‘There was no love lost between them. I never saw them touch or be affectionate to each other.’
Maggie, the source told DailyMail.com, had long dealt with her husband’s now much reported abuse of prescription pills but, they said, ‘I don’t think she’d had to worry about money before. That was new for her.’
The source explained, ‘I remember one day, it must have been a few months before she was killed, she was crying because she had written a check at a charity luncheon, and it had bounced.
‘She thought at first there must have been some mistake but when she found out there wasn’t she was mortified and upset.
Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie (far right), and son Paul (left) were killed on June 7, shot multiple times at the family’s sprawling estate in Islandton, South Carolina. No one’s been arrested in their deaths, which brought scrutiny into every nook of Murdaugh’s life
Murdaugh is seen above at a bond hearing in Varnville, South Carolina on September 16
‘I think when Maggie married Alex she didn’t have to think about money or where it was coming from and once she started asking questions she definitely picked her battles.’
Murdaugh’s response was always the same, they said, ‘He’d always tell her not to worry about it, that he’d figure it out, he’d fix it.
‘He was just so checked out of the family by the end. He never gave her any real answers that I heard.’
Griffin acknowledged that investigators ‘are not sharing information but I believe if they had that [information] they would have charged Alex and they have not charged him.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to SLED for comment.
Alex Murdaugh is currently in out-of-state drug rehab after being charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy, and filing a false police report. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years behind bars.
Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son Paul were killed June 7, shot multiple times at the family’s sprawling estate in Islandton, South Carolina.
No one’s been arrested in their deaths, which brought scrutiny into every nook of Murdaugh’s life.
A source who has known the family for years told DailyMail.com on Tuesday: ‘Their marriage was absolutely on the rocks’
In July, SLED released the 911 call where Murdaugh reported that he found his wife and son shot to death.
The seven-minute 911 call didn’t include much new information about the deaths of Maggie and Paul.
Alex Murdaugh immediately identified himself on the 911 call and told the operator his ‘wife and child have been shot’ near dog kennels on his property.
‘I’ve been up to it now. It’s bad,’ Murdaugh said.
During the 911 call, dogs could be heard barking in the background and Murdaugh sounded deeply upset and agitated.
He told the operator several times that neither his son or wife was breathing.
The operator asked Murdaugh if anything was out of place. There was a brief pause before he answered ‘not particularly, really. No ma’am.’
Murdaugh has said he found the bodies after returning home from visiting his ill father for several hours.
Maggie was worried her son Paul (pictured in his mugshot) would start heavily partying and drinking during the summer months. When he died he was facing trial for the boating death of Mallory Beach
Griffin said he reviewed his client’s text messages with his wife and that there were no signs of a ‘domestic dispute.’
‘He loved his wife. He loved his son. The murders were done in the most brutal fashion,’ Griffin told The Daily Beast.
He added: ‘He didn’t do it. I feel strongly that he didn’t do it.
‘Nobody wants to solve these murders as much as Alex.’
Griffin said that members of his legal team are working to ‘peel back more layers of this onion’ to see if someone else may have had a motive to harm Murdaugh and his family.
Just weeks after the murders, police say that Murdaugh was found wounded from a gunshot on the side of a road in a rural part of the state.
Murdaugh’s lawyers said that he was suffering from an addiction to drugs when he hired a former client, Curtis ‘Eddie’ Smith, to shoot him dead.
The goal was to get his surviving son a $10 million life insurance benefit, state police said. But the shot from a .38 caliber revolver only grazed his head.
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was awaiting trial on a charge of boating under the influence causing death in a February 2019 crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
Whether local law enforcement agencies tried to obstruct the investigation into the boating death is also being reviewed by state officials.
Murdaugh is a member of a prominent legal family in the southern part of South Carolina.
His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all elected solicitors in the area but are no longer in office.
The man charged with shooting Murdaugh is Smith, a former client from a workplace accident case.
Smith said they became friends, and he was stunned to find himself dismissed as a callous drug dealer by Murdaugh’s lawyers.
The day before the botched murder-for-hire scheme, Murdaugh was fired by the PMPED law firm founded by his family after the firm determined he took money.
Murdaugh’s life has unraveled at a dizzying rate. He has been charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report following an incident September 4 when he claimed he was the victim of a drive-by shooting
Crime scene tape is visible on the stretch of Old Salkehatchie Road where Alex Murdaugh reported having been the victim of a drive by shooting. He is accused of hiring a hitman to kill him
Smith claimed he knew nothing about the plot to kill Murdaugh for a multi-million-dollar insurance windfall until he met him by the side of a road and was told ‘I want you to shoot me in the head’.
Smith told the The New York Times that Murdaugh – who is one of his distant cousins – was accidentally shot when he tried to wrestle the gun from him to stop the scandal-hit lawyer from killing himself.
Smith denied conspiring with Murdaugh and has shared how bitter he feels after was slapped with charges for allegedly trying to save the man he ‘loved like a brother.’
‘I don’t know if betrayed is even the word for it,’ he said.
‘I thought of him as a brother, you know, and loved him like a brother. And I would’ve done almost anything for him. Almost.’
Curtis Edward Smith, 61, (in mug) claimed he knew nothing about the plot to kill Alex Murdaugh until he met him by the side of a road on September 4
The 61-year-old, who has been accused of being Murdaugh’s opioid dealer, said he got a phone call from Murdaugh on the morning of September 4 asking him to drive in his work truck to meet him in Hampton.
Murdaugh didn’t tell Smith the reason for the meeting, Smith said, but he went anyway.
Smith said he arrived at the location and Murdaugh drove past, honking his horn for him to follow in his vehicle.
When they arrived along a rural road, Murdaugh pulled over at the side of the road so Smith did the same, he said.
Smith claimed that it was only then that he learned about Murdaugh’s reason for their meeting.
Murdaugh allegedly got out a loaded gun and asked Smith to shoot him in the head with it, killing him.
‘I want you to shoot me in the back of the head,’ Murdaugh allegedly told him.
Smith insisted he refused to do Murdaugh’s bidding, allegedly telling him: ‘It ain’t going to happen.’
When he refused, Smith said Murdaugh moved as though to shoot himself in the head.
At this point, the alleged hitman said he grabbed Murdaugh’s arm, twisting it behind his back to stop him shooting himself.
The gun accidentally discharged, shooting Murdaugh in the head, he said.
Smith said he saw Murdaugh sink to the ground holding his head and asked if he was okay.
He said Murdaugh – who only suffered superficial injuries – confirmed he was fine so he swore at the legal scion and drove off in his truck with the gun, leaving Murdaugh by the side of the road.
Murdaugh called 911 and was airlifted to hospital where he survived.
Smith, 61, is seen at his bond hearing last month at Hampton County Detention Center
Smith has denied being a co-conspirator and said Murdaugh – a distant cousin – was accidentally shot when he tried to wrestle the gun from him to stop him from killing himself
At the time, Murdaugh claimed he had been the victim of a drive-by shooting as he changed a tire by the side of the road, fueling speculation he was targeted amid the ongoing investigation into the double murders of his wife and son.
But his story quickly fell apart and he confessed to orchestrating the plot so that his surviving son Buster would receive a $10 million life insurance payout.
It is not clear what Murdaugh has told investigators about Smith’s involvement in the botched assisted suicide plot.
It emerged Murdaugh was in the grips of financial ruin due to a 20-year opioid addiction which he has been accused of funding by siphoning off money from both his law firm PMPED and from a settlement for the family of his housekeeper who died in a mystery ‘trip and fall.’
He checked himself into rehab days later for opioid addiction and resigned from PMPED in shame.
Smith, according to Murdaugh’s attorney, was his drug dealer and they met ‘many years ago’ when Murdaugh represented him in a legal case.
Police said Smith was paid by the disgraced attorney to carry out the hit making it look like a random, drive-by attach.
Murdaugh is said to have provided the gun for the shooting which Smith then drove off with and disposed in an unknown location.
Smith confessed to disposing of the gun and being present at the shooting but told investigators he wasn’t in on the plot.
He appeared to maintain his innocence during his bond hearing last month muttering that ‘it’s all bogus’ as he left the courtroom.
Buster, Maggie, Paul and Alex Murdaugh. Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and son Paul were found shot dead at the family’s hunting lodge in a horrific double murder
Buster (center) is hugged at the funeral for his mom and brother back on June 11. No arrests have been made for their murders
But, DailyMail.com exclusively revealed last month that Smith had allegedly been boasting about his involvement in the plot before his arrest.
Henry Vandermark, who has known Smith for more than a decade, said he had boasted that cops ‘wouldn’t find anything’ when they searched his home and told him he was a suspect in the shooting.
Murdaugh represented Smith as his attorney in minor traffic matters as well as a 2015 lawsuit that Smith filed against a forest management company where he worked after he was left permanently disabled in a logging accident.
Smith, from Walterboro, South Carolina, had also reportedly done many odd jobs as a handyman for the Murdaughs over the years.
Smith was charged with multiple counts including assisted suicide and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
He was released on $55,000 bond.
Smith, 61, faces numerous charges, including assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature and distribution of methamphetamine.
Police have also reopened the investigation the 2015 death of gay teen Stephen Smith since the double murder.
The teen’s death was ruled a hit-and-run, though no suspects have ever been named or charged and there was no evidence he was struck by a vehicle.
Smith being escorted to jail last month over the alleged hitman plot involving the legal scion
Stephen was a classmate of Buster Murdaugh’s and there were rumors reported at the time that he was in a relationship with him.
Law enforcement also reopened the investigation into the mystery trip and fall death of the family’s housekeeper of 25 years Gloria Satterfield in 2018.
Satterfield was found by Maggie on the front steps of the family home bleeding and the family said she had tripped over their dogs. She died weeks later.
The 57-year-old’s death was not reported to the coroner at the time and no autopsy was carried out.
The death certificate cites the manner of death as ‘natural’ – something that is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fail accident.
This does not match the information documented in the wrongful death suit which said she died as a ‘result of injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident, in Hampton County’.
Murdaugh allegedly then defrauded the Satterfield family out of a $4.3 million wrongful death settlement – which they said they had not received a dime of.
Last week, new legal documents claimed Murdaugh set up a fake firm called Forge to syphon off $3.5 million of the settlement money when it was paid out by his insurance firms.
The civil suit brought by Satterfield’s sons Tony Satterfield and Brian Harriott said the payouts were redirected to what was essentially a PO Box in Hampton instead of to them.
Two other defendants were named in the civil suit – Murdaugh’s old college roommate Cory Fleming, who acted as a lawyer on behalf of Satterfield’s families, and Chad Westendorf, Vice President of Palmetto State Bank who took over the sons as personal representative of their mom’s estate.
Fleming has his law license suspended Friday but has insisted he was also a victim of Murdaugh’s deceit.
Family murders, deaths, drug addictions, thefts and arrests: The riddles facing investigators who’ve now charged Alex Murdaugh
2015: Teenager Stephen Smith dies
Smith was found on the side of the road.
Cops investigating the double murder have also reopened the case into a 2015 hit-and-run of teen Stephen Smith
Police officially rule his death a hit-and-run but he had suffered blunt force trauma to the head
His mother has since shared her belief that she thinks he was killed in a hate-crime because he was gay
Case notes obtained by DailyMail.com revealed Paul’s older brother Buster was named multiple times in the investigation.
Police wanted to know more about his relationship with Stephen
Stephen’s mother said he had been having a ‘fling’.
In a deposition years later, one of Paul’s friends said the family had ‘covered’ other killings up.
He mentioned Smith’s death.
2018: Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield dies
Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Sattlerfield dies
Gloria died after ‘falling’ down the stairs in the family house
The family gave her family $500.000 in a wrongful death settlement but it’s unclear why her death was ruled to be their fault.
Alex Murdaugh was listed as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Satterfield was only 57 when she died.
She left behind a husband and children.
Her death was also mentioned in the deposition by Paul Murdaugh’s friend.
2019: Mallory Beach dies being thrown from boat driven by Paul Murdaugh
Mallory Beach, 19, died in February 2019
Paul was charged afterwards because he’d been drinking and was behaving ‘belligerently’ that night.
He had been released on bond.
Other kids were on the boat but were unharmed.
One testified that they were scared to speak about the Murdaugh family because they knew how to ‘cover things up’.
That boy named Stephen Smith and the housekeeper, and claimed Paul pushed her
June 7 2021: Paul and Maggie are murdered
The mom and son were found shot dead at the family home in Hampton, South Carolina.
Alex Murdaugh says he found them at the home.
The medical examiner said the pair had been dead for an hour at most when he discovered them.
Alex’s son Paul, 22, (left) and wife Maggie, 52, (right) were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds on June 7 at the family hunting lodge
Alex’s father Randolph Murdaugh III died ‘peacefully’ at home three days after Maggie and Paul were found shot dead
June 10 2021: Alex’s 81-year-old father Randolph Murdaugh III dies ‘naturally’ and ‘peacefully’ at home
September 3: Alex resigns from his law firm amid claims he misused funds
The firm has hired a forensic investigator to go through the accounts
September 4: Alex calls 911 claiming he’s been shot in the head in a drive-by.
He only had ‘surface’ wounds and was also able to call his brother
September 6: Alex resigns from his law firm
The South Carolina legal scion releases a statement confirming his resignation from the firm and announcing he has entered rehab
He said: ‘I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated these murders.’
September 16: Alex turns himself into police over insurance fraud scheme
Murdaugh handed himself over to cops in connection to insurance fraud scheme where he arranged his own killing so that his surviving son could collect $10 million payout.
He faces charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report.