The timeline of accusations against Alex Murdaugh

The Alex Murdaugh case keeps getting crazier. A once powerful lawyer now standing trial for the double murder of his wife and his son, multiple charges of financial fraud, and hiring a hitman... on himself. Here's everything you need to know.

Who is Alex Murdaugh and what happened to him?

This is Alex Murdaugh. Once the son of a powerful South Carolina legal dynasty, he now stands accused of killing his wife, Maggie, and one of their sons, Paul. Behind his fall from grace, lay a series of suspicious deaths, a hitman scheme, allegations of multi-million dollar fraud over decades, and a painkiller addiction. 

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Over two years before the killings, police say one of Murdaugh’s sons, then-19-year-old Paul Murdaugh crashed the family boat, killing his 19-year-old friend Mallory Beach. Paul Murdaugh was accused of driving the boat while drunk during the February 2019 incident. Speculation arose that due to the family’s longtime connections with local law enforcement, Paul Murdaugh hadn’t been given a sobriety test, nor was he ever handcuffed and taken to jail for questioning or booking after the accident.  

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His son Paul was killed before ever making it to trial

Beach’s family filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit, accusing Alex Murdaugh of allowing his son’s underage drinking. As a result of the suit, Beach family lawyers could likely comb through Murdaugh family finances, something Alex Murdaugh fought at every turn. Paul was eventually charged with three felonies, but was never brought to justice because he was killed before ever making it to trial, just three days before his father’s first court date in the wrongful death suit. 

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On June 7, 2021, Alex Murdaugh called 911 saying he had found his wife and son, Paul, killed at their South Carolina home. In the immediate aftermath, no one was charged in the killings and previous inquiries into Murdaugh’s finances were put on hold as the community rallied to mourn with him. But by September 2021, three months after the double murder, Murdaugh was forced to resign from his family law firm after an internal investigation revealed he had been stealing client funds.  

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Just a few days later, the case took another strange turn… “He says he’s changing a tire at the side of the road due to a leak, and someone pulls up in a pickup truck, talks to him briefly, and then shoots him in the head”, explains a CNN journalist. Ten days later, Murdaugh confessed to orchestrating the hit on himself with his former client and drug dealer, Curtis Edward Smith. He had asked Smith to kill him, hoping that his death would ensure a $10 million life insurance payout for his surviving son, Buster. Both Murdaugh and Smith were charged for the shooting, along with other felony charges. Murdaugh’s lawyers later stated that their client was depressed and addicted to painkillers when he thought of this scheme, and was checking himself into rehab. 

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Murdaugh received more than 80 charges

One month later, in yet another twist, Murdaugh was once again under arrest… Gloria Satterfield, Murdaugh’s former housekeeper, had died three years prior, after reportedly falling down the stairs of the family’s property. Satterfield’s sons claimed Murdaugh pocketed the money for himself after pushing them to make an insurance claim while being represented by his longtime friend. 

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From November 2021 to June 2022, Murdaugh received more than 80 charges, accusing him of stealing more than $8 million from more than a dozen people. Alex Murdaugh’s luck had truly run out and, in July 2022, he was indicted in the killings of his wife and son. Murdaugh’s trial for the double murder began in January 2023. If convicted, he faces life without parole.