Alex Murdaugh was once a well-established lawyer, millionaire, husband and father of two sons, Buster and Paul, living on an expansive property in South Carolina’s Low Country.
Despite his seemingly idyllic life, however, Murdaugh has had a dramatic fall from grace with so many twists and turns that he has left his now-national audience with whiplash.
Most recently, on July 14, a Colleton County Grand Jury indicted Murdaugh, 64, on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection to the June 7, 2021, deaths of his wife, Maggie, 52, and their son Paul, 22.
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But prior to the bombshell murder charges, Murdaugh faced more than 80 other criminal charges through 16 state grand jury indictments for schemes to defraud a slew of victims, including the family of his dead housekeeper, a deaf quadriplegic man and a highway patrolman injured in the line of duty, of a total sum of nearly $8.5 million.
Here’s a timeline of events that led Murdaugh from his multi-million-dollar family farm to the Glenn Detention Center in Richland County, where he is currently detained.
Buster’s classmate, 19-year-old Stephen Smith, is found dead in the middle of a road in rural Hampton County in what was officially ruled a hit-and-run, despite a state trooper’s incident report noting that there was “no evidence to suggest the victim was struck by a vehicle.”
Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, 57, dies in a hospital weeks after she allegedly falls on steps at the family’s property on the borders of Hampton and Colleton County.
Paul Murdaugh crashes a boat with his friends aboard on a drunken February evening in 2019, leaving 19-year-old Mallory Beach dead and several other passengers injured. Paul is charged in the incident and pleads not guilty.
Beach’s family files a wrongful death lawsuit — the amended version of which names Alex Murdaugh, Paul Mudaugh and a convenience store that allegedly served the minor alcohol on the night of the crash as defendants.
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh are murdered on the family’s estate in June. Alex Murdaugh discovers their bodies near the estate’s dog kennel and calls 911 to report that they have been shot.
South Carolina State Police open an investigation into Stephen Smith’s death based on information gathered during the course of their investigation into Paul and Maggie’s murders. The police have not given any further details about what potential connection there may be between the two incidents.
In September, Murdaugh is confronted by partners at the prominent personal injury law firm, founded by his great-grandfather a century ago, for allegedly stealing millions of dollars.
A day later, Murdaugh allegedly hatches a suicide-for-hire plot to have himself shot and killed on a rural Hampton County road so that his surviving son, Buster, can collect on a $10 million life insurance policy.
The botched shooting leaves Murdaugh, whose family also controlled the local prosecutor’s office for generations, with a graze wound to the head.
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After being treated and released from the hospital, Murdaugh completes a medical detox for his opioid addiction at a facility in Atlanta.
That same month, Glorida Satterfield’s sons file a wrongful death lawsuit against Alex Murdaugh, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) opens an investigation into Satterfield’s death.
A South Carolina judge freezes the assets of Murdaugh and his son, Buster, appointing receivers to analyze the family’s finances.
While Murdaugh is receiving medical treatment for his addiction in Orlando, Florida, authorities arrest him on new charges alleging he defrauded Satterfield’s sons of $4.3 million in insurance settlement money after the 57-year-old woman died at a hospital in February 2018, weeks after her alleged trip and fall at the Murdaugh family’s home.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announces that a Hampton County Grand Jury issued indictments for Alex Murdaugh for conspiracy, false claim or payment in the amount of $10,000 or more and filing a false police report in connection to the apparent September suicide-for-hire attempt.
The Hampton County Grand Jury also issues indictments for the alleged hitman, Curtis Edward Smith, for pointing and presenting a firearm, conspiracy, assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature and false claim or payment for an amount of $10,000 or more.
Wilson later issues several new indictments totaling 27 counts against Murdaugh.
The additional charges include four counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent; seven counts of obtaining signature or property by false pretenses; seven counts of money laundering; eight counts of computer crimes; and one count of forgery.
Wilson announces that a grand jury has issued seven new indictments against Murdaugh on 21 charges – nine counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent; seven counts of computer crimes; four counts of money laundering and one count of forgery in alleged schemed to defraud victims of more than $1.3 million.
A total of 12 indictments against the former lawyer combined allege that he embezzled more than $6.2 million.
Later that month, Murdaugh agrees to pay a $4.3 million settlement to Satterfield’s sons in their wrongful death lawsuit.
A state grand jury issues 27 additional charges against Murdaugh, in custody since October, accusing Murdaugh of stealing millions of dollars from people, including a highway patrolman, a quadriplegic man and Satterfield’s sons.
The new indictments charge Murdaugh with 21 counts of Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent and six counts of Computer Crimes, extending his crime history back to 2011.
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He faces a total of 71 charges and is accused of stealing more than $8.5 million from clients.
SLED agents receive permission from Gloria Satterfield’s family to exhume her body, as the death was never reported to a coroner at the time of her death, and the initial death certificate claimed the housekeeper died of natural causes.
Later that month, Wilson announces new indictments accusing Murdaugh, including an indictment related to money laundering as part of an alleged drug trafficking ring.
These charges alleged that over the course of eight years, Murdaugh wrote at least 437 checks to Curtis Edward Smith, a former personal injury legal client and distant cousin, totaling approximately $2.4 million, according to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. From October 7, 2013, through February 28, 2021, Murdaugh made the hundreds of checks out to Smith for individual amounts of less than $10,000 each to avoid being flagged by banks, which are required by law to report large currency transactions.
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Smith then allegedly converted the checks to cash, sometimes forging the endorsements of associates without their knowledge or consent, in order to facilitate the acquisition or distribution of illegally obtained narcotics, as well as to benefit Murdaugh and conceal or disguise the “nature, location, sources, ownership, or control” of the proceeds from a “myriad of unlawful activities.”
Murdaugh now faces 16 indictments containing 81 charges.
Wilson announces that a Colleton County Grand Jury has indicted Murdaugh on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection to the June 2021 deaths of his wife and son, Paul.
“All the efforts of our office and the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation have been focused on seeking justice for the victims’ families,” Wilson says in a July 14 statement. “We want to thank the State Law Enforcement Division, the attorneys and staff in our office, and everyone who worked on this case for their tireless efforts to gather evidence and follow where it led. We also want to thank the Colleton County Grand Jury for listening to that evidence and for their service to the people of the state.”
Mudaugh pleads not guilty.
Murdaugh’s attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, say in a statement to FOX Carolina that the defendant “wants his family, friends and everyone to know that he did not have anything to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul.”
Several days later, a federal grand jury indicts Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte for allegedly helping Murdaugh steal hundreds of thousands from his legal clients.
The new indictment is the first-time federal prosecutors in South Carolina have sought charges through FBI investigations in the long spiraling fall from grace of Murdaugh. Laffitte’s family founded Palmetto State Bank in Hampton, South Carolina, in 1907.