Murdaugh Murders- An Overview

Murdaugh Murders- An Overview

Jenna Harrison, Editor-in-Chief/Podcast Manager

On February 22nd of this year, Netflix released a docu-series called The Murdaugh Murders- A Southern Scandal. This three-episode docuseries covers the small town famous Murdaugh family located in Lowcountry, South Carolina. It specifically covers the later lives of husband and wife, Alexander and Margret Murdaugh, and their two sons, Buster and Paul Murdaugh. This series caused a media uproar, with the complexity of the crimes of this family. It has the classic southern staple of speculation in a small town, but with much darker intentions. Five murders have been tied to the name Murdaugh, as well as fraud and illegal drugs. The court case of Alexander Murdaugh ended just this February as well as Buster was under attack from the media for a death in 2015. This is an overview of what you need to know.

The Murdaugh name is spoken with a feeling of awe and fear, as well as being a century-old native to Hampton County. All of the Murdaugh men, excluding Paul, were lawyers, and they own an influential law practice that had begun well over a century ago. Alexander Murdaugh has represented many people across the state of South Carolina, including his family members.

His youngest son, Paul Murdaugh, before his death, was involved in a boat crash that ended in the death of Mallory Beach, a 19-year-old resident and acquaintance of Paul’s. This accident occurred in February 2019 when four other witnesses claimed that Paul and the rest of them had been drinking the night of the accident. The blood-alcohol count proved this, as Paul’s levels were three times over the legal limit. In April of that same year, Paul was charged with boating under the influence that caused death and two counts of boating under the influence that caused bodily injury.

Two deaths under mysterious circumstances are the cause of speculation in the Lowcountry that tie Maggie and Buster Murdaugh to them. First is the death of Stephen Smith. Officials previously said that Smith was killed in a hit-and-run after his car broke down on a backroad. However, many people weren’t satisfied with those answers, due to the nature of his injuries. Many speculated Buster Murdaugh, due to the rumors that he and Smith were involved romantically. This theory would have come as a shock to many in the conservative county, as well as “tarnishing” the Murdaugh family name. This would have given Buster enough reason to have lured Smith to have kept him quiet about their speculated affair.

Later, in 2018, the Murdaugh housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, was found dead in front of the Murdaugh home, the city coroner announced that the death had been “natural” due to the injuries she had sustained. The interesting part of the case is that Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were the ones that had called authorities, saying that Satterfield had been attacked by the many hunting dogs the Murdaugh family had on the property and had fallen down the stairs. According to the public coroner report, Satterfield sustained intense head injuries as well as 12 broken ribs. Gloria had left two young sons at the time, and Alexander Murdaugh had claimed he would file an insurance claim that would heavily reimburse the family since the death had occurred on his property. The family of Gloria Satterfield has reported present day they have never received this payment, while Alexander Murdaugh received a 4.3 million cash out in the commercial property.

In July of 2021, death struck again in the small town with the murders of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh. They were shot fatally in the family’s private property. Alexander was the person who called authorities, stating they had no pulse and he had found them. In his alibi, Murdaugh was visiting his elderly parents when the time of the murders occurred. With the help of the police, they determined the killer from Paul’s phone. Paul was using a social media app up until minutes before his and his mother’s deaths. He was messaging friends with videos in the family’s dog kennel. Authorities identified Alexander Murdaugh’s voice in the background of this video. Alexander was convicted of a double homicide that following February.

In Alexander Murdaugh’s criminal case, he was also tried for many financial crimes before the trial of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh. He was charged with Satterfield’s case, as well as stealing 8.4 million dollars from seventy-one victims, defrauding four insurance companies, stealing two hundred ninety-five thousand dollars from his brother, as well as tax evasion. Later in the double murder case, these financial crimes were submitted as evidence against Alexander’s case.

On September 4th, 2021, however, Murdaugh was shot alongside a backroad. He received a superficial head wound and released a public statement two days after the shooting. He said, “The murders of my wife and son have caused incredibly difficult times in my life. I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret. I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated by 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 day that Alexander had been escorted to the rehabilitation center, his firm with his four other partners had released the statement that he had misappropriated the law firm’s funds.

The rehabilitation center and the millions of dollars stolen tie in together that Murdaugh had a severe opioid addiction. Many checks were written to various opioid sellers in the county, using extremely large amounts of money that corroborated the stolen funds. Ten days later, authorities release the information that Alexander hired a hitman to kill him so that Buster could receive a 10 million life insurance policy. When Alexander was released from rehabilitation, he was arrested on the previously mentioned fraud charges.

Later, a grand jury charged Alexander with the murder of Maggie and Paul on July 13th, 2022. Alexander went to court in January of 2023 and was found guilty of all charges on March 2nd of this year.

Recently, however, the body of Stephen Smith is currently being privately autopsied. His mother, Sandy Smith, started a go-fund-me on March 10th and received over 65,000 dollars to perform this private autopsy. This has sent the media once again into a spiral of accusations and speculation of Buster Murdaugh being guilty. And according to the New York Post’s website, officials have ordered a rape kit to be performed on the body, which is considered odd by officials since this case was written up as a hit-and-run. Smith’s mother has mentioned that she even suspects Buster, of how his father handled similar matters.

On March 20th, 2023, Buster Murdaugh released a statement involving the re-exhumation of Smith’s body. Murdaugh told the press through his spokesperson, Jim Griffin; “I haven’t spoken up until now because I want to live in private while I come with their deaths and my father’s incarceration. Before, during, and since my father’s trial, I have been targeted and harassed by the media and followers of this story. This has gone on far too long. These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false. I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death and my heart goes out to the Smith family. I am requesting that the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me.”

Buster Murdaugh is the only free man out of the immediate Murdaugh family. He is currently being watched and suspected of Smith’s death as of March 23rd of this year.