The Murdaughs have been one of the most dominant families in South Carolina’s Lowcountry for generations. From 1920 through 2006, the family served as the area’s solicitors in a row. They were in charge of all criminal prosecutions in the 14th Judicial Circuit. Their service area included five counties: Beaufort, Allendale, Hampton, Colleton, and Jasper.
The Murdaughs established themselves as an impenetrable force in the neighborhood. But, they’ve been entangled in scandal after scandal in recent years. Everything came to a head when the father of one of the families was sentenced to two life terms in prison for murdering his wife and youngest son.
Alex Murdaugh contacted 911 on June 7, 2021, to report finding his wife and kid dead on their remote property in Islandton, South Carolina. Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, 52, and Paul Murdaugh, 22, died from numerous gunshot wounds, according to Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey, who later testified at trial. Their bodies were discovered near dog kennels on the family’s 1,800-acre “Moselle” property.
According to the Daily Beast, Alex Murdaugh claimed he returned home from a visit with his mother to find the two dead. In the weeks that followed, he paid someone to simulate a heist and shoot him. He later told a judge that he hired someone to murder him so that his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, 26, could collect the insurance money.
For more than a year, police investigated the deaths of Paul and Maggie. The killings were then indicted by a grand jury in July 2022.
The murder trial against the family patriarch began in late January 2023. Authorities charged Alex with murdering his wife and son in order to divert attention away from the financial crimes he was accused of committing. WJCL claimed that on the day of the murders, his law company approached him about missing money.
Later that evening, Alex asked his wife and Paul, who were staying at their beach house, to meet him at the Moselle property. Phone records show that the three exchanged texts and calls in the hours afterwards, but many of them were intentionally removed from Alex’s phone. He stated that he was not present at the time of the incident. Nevertheless, shortly before his death, Paul sent a Snapchat message to a buddy, and Alex can be heard in the background.
— Juliet (@JJ00702642478) February 1, 2023
As Paul stood in the dog kennels’ feed room, Alex shot his son in the chest with a shotgun, according to the evidence. After that shot, he was still upright and headed toward the entrance. His father then shot him again, wounding him in the neck, shoulder, and skull.
During his closing arguments, State Prosecutor Creighton Waters informed the jury that Maggie had been shot five times. Three shots struck her as she was standing, with two of them striking her in the head. Both of her head shots were reported as instantly lethal.
“She’s running to her baby!” Prosecutor Creighton Waters describes to the jury what he says Maggie Murdaugh did when her son Paul was shot.
— Court TV (@CourtTV) March 1, 2023
In less than three hours, the jury reached a guilty verdict in the case against Alex. A juror told ABC News after the verdict that the disgraced lawyer’s fate was sealed by the Snapchat footage.
On March 3, Judge Clifton Newman sentenced the murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole.