The Murdaugh’s family’s links to mysterious deaths – including gay nursing student – under scrutiny
The Murdaugh family, for years one of the most prominent family’s in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, along the state’s coastline, are in the spotlight thanks to the clan’s links to a series of mysterious deaths.
It comes following the publication of a New Yorker feature, just a week before family patriarch, Alex Murdaugh, is due to go on trial for the shooting deaths of his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul.
The family’s links to death of 19-year-old openly gay nursing student Stephen Smith, whose name ‘was linked with Buster’s,’ the Murdaugh’s eldest son, is also under investigation, DailyMail.com previously reported.
In addition, the 2018 death of the family’s housekeeper Gloria Satterfield outside of the Murdaugh’s estate after she had apparently tripped on some steps. Alex is accused of not giving her sons the $4 million that was later paid out in life insurance.
Alex’s trial for murder will begin in Colleton County on January 23. He will be represented in the case by powerful South Carolina Democratic Party activist and Biden surrogate, Dick Harpootlian.
Murdaugh’s wife Maggie (right) and his younger son Paul (left) were found shot dead on the family’s property in June 2021
Police announced in 2021 that they had gathered information in the Murdaugh double-murder investigation that has led them to reopen the case into Smith’s death
Earlier this month, the family of Mallory Beach have reached a tentative settlement with Buster Murdaugh in a $50million lawsuit, after the young woman was killed during a fatal late night boat ride, driven by Buster’s younger brother and murder victim Paul.
Beach, 19, was thrown from the boat when it crashed into Archers Creek Bridge, in Beaufort South Carolina, in 2019. Her body was found five days later. There were six people on board the vessel at the time of the crash.
It is believed Paul Murdaugh, 19, was drunk at the time, with Buster accused of lending his younger brother his ID in order for him to buy alcohol before the crash, according to one local news outlet.
According to legal documents seen by DailyMail.com, Paul Murdaugh was ‘highly intoxicated,’ ‘drunk’ and ‘belligerent,’ on the February night two years ago when he sped his boat into a piling on Archer’s Creek.
The disgraced former attorney is facing a total of 98 criminal charges – four related to the double murders and others for a botched suicide for hire plot
The New Yorker piece mentions Paul’s friends as referring to his aggressive drunken alter-ego as ‘Timmy.’ Another person who was on the boat on that fateful night testified: ‘When they can tell he’s drunk, somebody will say, “All right. Here comes Timmy. We got to go.”‘
The article goes on to accuse Alex Murdaugh and his late father, Randolph Murdaugh III, of putting pressure on those who were present on the boat not co-operate with investigators in the hospital in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
One of the passenger’s who had driven the boat earlier in the night, Connor Cook, testified in a deposition later that Alex told him ‘everything was going to be all right. I just needed to keep my mouth shut and tell them I didn’t know who was driving,’ according to the New Yorker.
At the time of his death in June 2021, Paul Murdaugh was facing charges including boating under the influence resulting in death.
Four years before the crash, Stephen Smith, 19, was found dead in the middle of a country road 15 miles from the Murdaugh family’s Islandton hunting lodge on July 8, 2015.
Smith’s death was ruled a hit-and-run, but his mother Sandy has always maintained that her son, who was gay, was the victim of a hate crime and the murder was covered up.
Alex Murdaugh pictured with his wife Maggie and their two sons Paul (left) and Buster
In a new court filing obtained by DailyMail.com, prosecutors say disgraced legal scion Alex Murdaugh (pictured in court in August) tried to throw investigators off by falsely linking the murders of his wife and son with a fatal boat crash for which his son Paul was facing criminal charges
In June 2021, initial investigators found no evidence of any vehicle accident, were convinced that the victim had a gunshot wound above his right eye, and received tips questioning whether Smith had a relationship with Paul’s older brother, Richard ‘Buster’ Murdaugh, 26.
The original incident report written by South Carolina Highway Patrol investigators on the scene and contained in the Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation (MAIT) case file obtained by DailyMail.com states: ‘The victim was found in the middle of Sandy Run Road deceased from some sort of blunt force trauma to the head. Responded to the scene. I saw no vehicle debris, skid marks, or injuries consistent with someone being struck by a vehicle.’
The report continues: ‘The shoes were loosely tied, and both were still on. After consulting with MAIT we see no evidence to suggest the victim was struck by a vehicle.’
Stephen Smith, 19, (pictured with his mother Sandy) was found dead in the middle of a country road 15 miles from the Murdaugh family’s Islandton hunting lodge on July 8, 2015
A second incident report signed by two deputies from Hampton County Sheriff’s office who responded to the first reports of a body stated: ‘I spotted a person laying in the middle of Sandy Run…The person was a white young male with a severe head wound.’
It continues: ‘After inspecting the body, it appears the victim had been shot.’
A third narrative written by a MAIT officer who is not named and was called at 5:35am on the morning of July 8, 2015, states that after initially being advised of a ‘possible Hit & Run fatality’ he arrived on the scene to be told by Hampton County Coroner Ernie Washington that it was a homicide.
The report reads: ‘He pointed out the wound to be a gunshot wound and showed me the entry point. Assistant Coroner Kelly Greene then began to show me photographs they took, again pointing to the entry point to the head and also a defensive wound to the hand.’
It states: ‘I asked for clarity if they were sure, it was a homicide, and their response was yes.’
Gloria Satterfield died in the home of legal heir Alex Murdaugh (left) in February 2018 after working for the family for 20 years. He told her sons that she died of a fall. Now, they say they still don’t know if that’s what really happened
The Murdaugh family’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, 57, died mysteriously in 2018 after a ‘fall’ at Murdaugh’s home in South Carolina. She had worked for his prestigious legal dynasty family for 20 years.
After her death, Murdaugh promised her adult sons, Tony Satterfield and Brian Harriott, that he would ‘look after them’ financially. He had them file a wrongful death lawsuit against him with the goal of having his insurance company pay out a settlement, but he never gave the men the money, it is alleged.
In an interview with NBC’s Dateline in October 2021, Gloria’s brother, Eric Harriott Jr., said: ‘It ain’t about the money. It’s like she was a nobody, as much as she’s done for him.’
Gloria’s sister, Ginger Harriott Hadwin, added: ‘Did he have that going through his mind that day when we buried Gloria, and thinking, “oh, how much money am I gonna get? How can I get this?”‘
The family of Mallory Beach (pictured) have reached a tentative settlement with Buster Murdaugh in a $50million lawsuit, after the young woman was killed during a fatal late night boat ride, driven by Buster’s younger brother Paul
DailyMail.com earlier reported that Alex told law enforcement that he knew why his wife and son were slaughtered and informed the first officers on the scene that the grisly murders were tied to the boat crash in which Mallory Beach was killed.
Alex made a frantic 911 call shortly after 10pm on the night of June 7, 2021 in which he claimed to have found Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, ‘badly shot,’ near dog kennels at the family’s rural hunting estate of Moselle, in Islandton, South Carolina.
According to the state, the murders of Maggie and Paul were not revenge killings.
Instead, they now allege, the ‘only person with a true motive to kill his wife and son,’ was Alex himself.
In the document filed in Colleton County Court prosecutors write that the ‘clouds of Alex’s past misdeeds’ were gathering into ‘a perfect storm that was going to expose the real Alex Murdaugh’, who is, they say, ‘an allegedly crooked lawyer and drug user who borrowed and stole wherever he could to stay afloat and one step ahead of detection.’
They claim that he was facing imminent ‘legal, financial and personal ruin.’
In November, Alex and his cousin, Eddie, were arrested on attempted insurance fraud charges after Alex alleged he had been shot in the head.
The original story indicated that Alex convinced his cousin to shoot him dead so that his surviving son, Buster, could collect insurance money. Eddie is quoted in the New Yorker story as saying: ‘If I’d shot him, he’d be dead.’
It later emerged that authorities believed that Alex and his cousin were involved in an elaborate money laundering and drug dealing ring that spread across South Carolina.
Pictured: Paul Murdaugh, who was accused of causing the death of Mallory Beach, was murdered on June 7, 2021
The insurance fraud angle of the story fizzled with authorities now believing that Alex planned to take a gunshot wound in order to convince prosecutors that there was a vigilante vendetta against the family.
The proceeds of both Paul and Maggie’s estates were first go to Alex , according to reporting from January 2022. It was not immediately clear if that is still the case.
Alex would be entitled to the valuable properties owned by his slain wife Maggie. Her estate includes a vacation home on Edisto Beach, as well as 1,700 acres of property in Colleton and Hampton counties.
These include the family’s river-side home in Colleton County’s Moselle community.
A judge last year essentially froze Murdaugh’s bank accounts in 2021. Since then, his brother John Marvin Murdaugh has been petitioning the courts to lift lis pendens on Maggie’s properties, allowing for them to be sold.
Speaking in January 2022, Tinsley said: ‘John Marvin’s move to cancel the lis pendens is a clear indication … he and Alex are trying to maneuver to avoid the claims against (the Moselle property).’
Fox News Digital reported in January that Renee Beach, Mallory Beach’s mother, along with co-receivers Alex Murdaugh and John Murdaugh, would receive a $275,000 settlement from the sale of the family’s home thought to be worth nearly $4million.
Buster Murdaugh will receive $530,000 from his mother’s estate.
TIMELINE OF MURDAUGH FAMILY MURDERS, DEATHS, LAWSUITS AND ARRESTS
Police investigating the double murder of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh have also reopened the case into a 2015 hit-and-run of teen Stephen Smith
July 8, 2015: Teenager Stephen Smith dies
Smith was found on the side of the road.
Police officially rule his death a hit-and-run but he had suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
His mother has since shared her belief that she thinks he was killed in a hate-crime because he was gay.
Case notes obtained by DailyMail.com revealed Paul’s older brother Buster was named multiple times in the investigation.
Police wanted to know more about his relationship with Stephen.
Stephen’s mother said he had been having a ‘fling’.
In a deposition years later, one of Paul’s friends said the family had ‘covered’ other killings up.
He mentioned Smith’s death.
February 2, 2018: Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield dies
Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Sattlerfield dies
Gloria died after ‘falling’ down the stairs in the family house
The family gave her family $500,000 in a wrongful death settlement but it’s unclear why her death was ruled to be their fault.
Alex Murdaugh was listed as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Satterfield was only 57 when she died.
She left behind a husband and children.
Her death was also mentioned in the deposition by Paul Murdaugh’s friend.
February 23, 2019: Mallory Beach dies being thrown from boat driven by Paul Murdaugh
Mallory Beach, 19, died in February 2019
Paul was charged afterwards because he’d been drinking and was behaving ‘belligerently’ that night.
He had been released on bond.
One of the six teens on board testified that they were scared to speak about the Murdaugh family because they knew how to ‘cover things up’.
The boy named Stephen Smith and the housekeeper, and claimed Paul pushed Beach from the boat.
June 7, 2021: Paul and Maggie are murdered
The mother and son were found shot dead at the family home in Islandton, South Carolina.
Alex Murdaugh says he found them at the home.
The medical examiner said the pair had been dead for an hour at most when he discovered them.
It was later revealed Alex waited an hour to call 911 about their deaths.
Alex’s son Paul, 22, (left) and wife Maggie, 52, (right) were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds on June 7 at the family hunting lodge
Alex’s father Randolph Murdaugh III died ‘peacefully’ at home three days after Maggie and Paul were found shot dead
June 10, 2021: Alex’s 81-year-old father Randolph Murdaugh III dies ‘naturally’ and ‘peacefully’ at home
Alex Murdaugh’s alibi for the night of his wife and son’s murder was that he was visiting his ailing father in the hospital.
The father died just three days later, following a battle with cancer.
September 3, 2021: Alex resigns from his law firm amid claims he misused funds
The firm has hired a forensic investigator to go through the accounts.
September 4, 2021: Alex calls 911 claiming he’s been shot in the head in a drive-by
He only had ‘surface’ wounds and was also able to call his brother.
September 6, 2021: Alex resigns from law firm
In a statement he says: ‘I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated these murders.’
September 14, 2021: Police arrest alleged hitman in Alex’s shooting
Police said Alex Murdaugh orchestrated his own shooting in a botched assisted suicide scheme, designed so his surviving son can collect a $10 million life insurance payment.
Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was arrested on charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Smith, from Walterboro, South Carolina, is a former client of Murdaugh, who represented him in minor traffic matters as well as a 2015 lawsuit that Smith filed against a forest management company.
According to police, Murdaugh paid him to shoot him in the head and kill him, making it look like a random, drive-by attack.
September 15, 2021: Police open criminal investigation into Satterfield’s 2018 death
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced it is investigating the 2018 death of Gloria Satterfield and the subsequent handling of her estate.
Satterfield, 57, had been the Murdaugh housekeeper and nanny for around 25 years when she suffered a fatal brain injury following a mystery fall inside the Murdaugh family home.
She died several weeks later on February 26, 2018.
SLED said that hit had opened a criminal investigation inter Satterfield’s death based on a request from the Hampton County Coroner, as well as ‘information gathered during the course of our other ongoing investigations involving Alex Murdaugh.’
September 16, 2021: Alex turns himself into police over insurance fraud scheme
Murdaugh handed himself over to police in connection to the insurance fraud scheme, where he arranged his own killing so that his surviving son could collect $10 million payout.
He faces charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report.
November 29, 2021: Murdaugh faces 27 new counts after an indictment for an alleged $4.8 million in financial crimes
Murdaugh was indicted on 27 additional charges, with prosecutors saying he stole nearly $5million in settlement money he had obtained for his dead housekeeper, an injured state trooper and other people, as well as fees meant for his law firm.
December 6, 2021: Satterfield’s family sues Bank of America for allowing Murdaugh to stash life insurance money meant for them
The bank was added as a defendant in the lawsuit against Murdaugh, who is accused of bilking the sons of Gloria Ann Satterfield out of life insurance money after the housekeeper’s mysterious death.
Statterfield’s sons say the bank looked the other way when it allowed Murdaugh to set up a fake account and transfer the insurance payouts to himself and a cousin.
June 28, 2022: Alex Murdaugh and Curtis Smith are charged with drug trafficking
Murdaugh is accused of writing 437 checks worth $2.4 million that Curtis Smith – the man he hired to murder him – cashed over eight years, until September 2021.
Smith kept some of the money for himself and used the rest for wide-ranging illegal activities, according to indictments unsealed on June 28.
That illegal activity included a ‘distribution network’ for the painkiller oxycodone, according to prosecutors.
Both men were charged with possessing, manufacturing or distributing narcotics.
Russell Lafitte, the former Palmetto State Bank CEO, is charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and misapplication of bank funds for allegedly helping Murdaugh steal money from his client’s settlements
July 21, 2022: Palmetto State Bank CEO is charged with bank fraud for ‘helping Murdaugh steal money from his clients’
A federal grand jury indicted Russell Lafitte, the former Palmetto State Bank CEO, for allegedly conspiring with Murdaugh to steal $8.5 million from his client’s settlements.
He is charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and misapplication of bank funds.
November 8, 2022: Lafitte faces federal trial
Lafitte’s federal trial on the bank fraud charges began November 8.
The Associated Press reported that defense lawyers, Bart Daniel and Matt Austin, argue Murdaugh manipulated people and lied to Lafitte.
They say he was just a pawn following Murdaugh’s instructions and didn’t willfully participate in the alleged fraud.