The bizarre and mysterious chain of events surrounding South Carolina’s prominent Murdaugh family have spiraled out of control in recent months.
The latest development to engulf the family centers on disgraced legal scion Alex Murdaugh and revelations he allegedly paid someone to shoot him dead.
The Murdaugh family has been making national headlines ever since the lawyer’s wife Maggie and 22-year-old son Paul were found dead three months ago outside the family’s hunting lodge near Islandton.
Since then, the saga has erupted to involve allegations of stolen money, an opioid addiction, insurance fraud and the botched suicide attempt.
Here’s what we know about the Murdaugh family saga:
Unsolved murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh
Alex Murdaugh discovered the bodies of wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, on June 7 near the dog kennels at their sprawling 1,700 acre home.
They had both been shot multiple times.
In a 911 call, the elder Murdaugh can be heard telling police who he was and saying his “wife and child have been shot.”
“I’ve been up to it now. It’s bad,” Alex said in the call.
He found the bodies after returning home from visiting his ill father for several hours.
Police have released few details related to the case, but investigators are probing it as a double homicide.
No arrests have been made.
The deadly 2019 boat crash Paul Murdaugh was awaiting trial for
At the time of his death, Paul was awaiting trial for allegedly drunkenly crashing his father’s 17-foot boat into a Beaufort County bridge in February 2019.
Paul was indicted on a charge of boating under the influence causing death in the crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach and hurt several others on the boat.
Three people ended up in the water as a result of the crash and Mallory’s body wasn’t discovered until seven days later.
After Paul’s death, videos and police documents related to the crash were released amid allegations law enforcement tried to cover for the Murdaugh family immediately after the boating ordeal.
In one video, a boat passenger can be heard telling police about Paul: “That motherf–ker needs to rot in f–king prison” and “he ain’t gonna get in no f–king trouble.”
Investigators are still looking into whether anyone tried to obstruct the boat crash probe.
Police were also looking at whether Paul’s role in the crash, or his legal woes, could have made him a target to be killed.
The state Attorney General’s Office officially dismissed the charges against Paul in August in what officials described as a formality in the wake of his death.
Missing millions allegedly stolen from law firm
South Carolina authorities are currently investigating claims that Alex Murdaugh stole millions of dollars from his high-powered law firm.
Alex had issued a statement on September 6 announcing his resignation from the PMPED Law Firm that his grandfather founded over 100 years ago.
At the time, Alex said he was entering rehab.
“The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret,” Alex said without going into details.
“I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated these murders. I am immensely sorry to everyone I’ve hurt including my family, friends and colleagues. I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself and my relationships.”
The law firm announced just hours later that Alex was being investigated for the misappropriation of millions of dollars and that he had been fired.
A botched roadside shooting for alleged $10 million insurance payout
The announcement of his firing and subsequent misappropriation investigation came just two days after Alex called 911 on Sept. 4 to report that he had been shot in the head in a roadside shooting in Varnille.
It has since emerged that Alex allegedly hatched the plan to have himself killed so his only surviving son could collect on a $10 million insurance policy.
Alex admitted to police Tuesday that he hired a man to kill him – but the planned fatal shot only ended up grazing his head.
Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was arrested and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Smith is a suspected drug dealer and one of Alex’s former clients, according to the Post and Courier. Alex represented Smith in a speeding case in 2013 as well as a personal injury lawsuit the previous year.
Alex allegedly provided Smith with a firearm and directed the man to shoot him in the head, according to a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division affidavit.
After the shooting, Smith then fled and ditched the gun.
Alex survived and called 911, telling police he’d been shot while trying to repair the tire on his Mercedes SUV. Authorities said at the time he was treated for a “superficial” gunshot wound to the head.
His attorney Dick Harpootlian told NBC’s Today Wednesday that his client was trying to withdraw from opioids and was experiencing “massive depression” when he began plotting how to kill himself.
Alex’s attorney said he hatched the plan to have someone kill him so his only surviving child would get his $10 million life insurance policy.
“He believed that $10 million policy had a suicide exclusion,” Harpootlian said. “Suicide exclusions are only good for two years, and he didn’t realize that. So he arranged to have this guy shoot him.
“It was an attempt on his part to do something to protect his child. He didn’t want law enforcement spending time on this fake crime instead of focusing on solving the murders of Maggie and Paul.”