South Carolina lawyer charged with murder in the 2021 slayings of his wife and son

More than 13 months after disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh called 911 to report finding his wife and son shot to death outside their home, a grand jury indicted him Thursday on murder charges in their killings.

But the indictment documents shed little light on the ongoing mystery over the deaths that captivated the public and prompted investigations that led to dozens of other criminal charges against Murdaugh in the months since his wife Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul, were killed on June 7, 2021.

Murdaugh, 54, has repeatedly denied any role in the deaths, saying he was visiting his mother and ailing father before he found his wife and son dead when he returned to their estate.

“Alex wants his family, friends and everyone to know that he did not have anything to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul. He loved them more than anything in the world,” Murdaugh defense attorneys Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian said in a statement.

The murder indictments accuse Murdaugh of killing his wife with a rifle and his son with a shotgun but include no details on how police linked him to the deaths or why a man with no criminal history and was part of a wealthy, well-connected family in tiny Hampton County might have wanted to kill his own family members.


More information may be released in a bond hearing for the new charges, which has not been scheduled. Murdaugh is already in jail unable to pay a $7-million bond on the dozens of other charges he faces related to alleged financial crimes.

Murdaugh also was charged Thursday with two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime, according to the indictments from a grand jury in Colleton County, site of the Murdaugh hunting estate where the killings happened.

Murdaugh’s family has dominated the legal scene in Hampton County for nearly a century. Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were the area’s elected prosecutors for 87 years straight. Murdaugh once worked for the century-old, family-founded law firm, which said in September that he was stealing money.

Throughout the investigation, state police have released few details about the caseThursday’s indictments were no exception. A joint statement from State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel and state Atty. Gen. Alan Wilson said they wouldn’t comment on specific evidence because the investigation remains active and a court case is pending.

Murdaugh’s lawyers said they want his trial to be held in the next three months.

“Alex did not have any motive whatsoever to murder them,” the defense attorneys said.

If convicted of murder, Murdaugh would face 30 years to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors could also choose to seek the death penalty under state law because more than one person was killed.

The June 2021 deaths prompted authorities to look into all corners of Murdaugh’s life. At least a half-dozen investigations resulted in charges that he stole $8.5 million from people who hired him and that he lied to police when he said he had been shot by a stranger on a roadside when, officials say, he actually asked a friend to kill him so his surviving son could collect a $10-million life insurance policy just days after the family firm determined he was stealing money. The friend said the gun went off as he tried to wrestle it from a suicidal Murdaugh’s grip.

Agents also said they plan to exhume the body of the Murdaughs’ housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died in 2018, several days after what the family said was a fall. Prosecutors said Murdaugh obtained a $4-million settlement from his homeowners insurance company in wrongful death claims in the case by saying he was negotiating for her family but didn’t give them any of the money.

In June, Murdaugh was indicted in what prosecutors said was an eight-year money laundering and painkiller trafficking scheme with a friend.

Murdaugh wrote 437 checks worth $2.4 million that his friend cashed over eight years, keeping some of the money for himself and giving the rest for wide-ranging illegal activities, according to the indictments unsealed last month.

The South Carolina Supreme Court disbarred Murdaugh on Tuesday, confirming the inevitable after Murdaugh’s attorneys declined to contest arguments at a June disbarment hearing.