Whodunnit? Murdaugh Murder Edition

“Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal” show poster, courtesy of Netflix , from IMDb.

“Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal” show poster, courtesy of Netflix , from IMDb.

Maxwell Pearson, Editor-in-Chief

Disclaimer: This article contains information about murder.

Chances are that you have seen the name Alex Murdaugh somewhere in the news in the past week. If you are like me, you previously knew nothing about this man from South Carolina who seemed to be the talk of the town… or the nation. So I decided to do some research to learn more about this case, starting with the Netflix Docuseries Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal.

The show premiered on Netflix in February, in the wake of the high profile murder case that went to trial Jan. 25. The show gives background on the Murdaugh family as well as eye-witness accounts of the crimes that have happened in the past few years circling the family. Here is what I learned (in the order the show presented the events):

Before his world fell apart, Alex Murdaugh was a prominent lawyer living in Hampton County, SC. He ran a fourth generation law firm that holds a lot of money and power in the state. He and his wife Maggie have two sons, Buster and Paul. In 2019, Paul was driving his boat while intoxicated with a group of friends and drove the boat into a piling under a bridge. Every person on the boat received a number of injuries, but one girl, Mallory Beach, got thrown from the boat, hit her head, and drowned while unconscious.

The only catch is…she was not found till a week later. In that time, Paul’s father Alex, allegedly knowing that his son was responsible for the crash and knowing what the repercussions could be for the family and the firm, tried his best to cover it up. He used his connections in the police force to slow the discovery of Mallory’s body and he tried to keep the witnesses quiet for as long as he could. Paul was charged but never convicted, and that could be the result of nothing but the strong, unjust connection between the law and the Murdaugh family. 

In the show, Beach’s family revealed the way Alex manipulated the entire case for his family’s benefit. He hid evidence, threatened witnesses with lawsuits, and influenced the media with his connections to the reporters. 

Years before, in 2015, a boy named Stephen Smith was found dead in the middle of the highway near one of the Murdaugh properties. Although he had injuries that looked to be inflicted by a baseball bat, his cause of death is still a mystery. It was also rumored that he had been romantically involved with Buster Murdaugh, once again placing the family name in a murder case. However, once again, Alex’s son was never tried or convicted. 

One of the most confusing chapters in this story is the one pertaining to Gloria Satterfield. Gloria was Murdaugh’s maid for over twenty years. In Feb. 2018, the local police got a call from Maggie Murdaugh that Gloria had tripped over a dog and fallen back on brick steps, hitting her head. She died two days later, but the testimonies in the show reveal that there is hearsay that foul play may have been involved.

Finally, in June 2021, the county police department received a call from a hysterical Alex Murdaugh who had supposedly just found his son Paul and his wife Maggie dead on the ground after being shot numerous times near the kennels of Murdaugh’s hunting lodge. That makes five deaths in six years with the Murdaugh name involved. The case has been investigated for almost two years and Alex has been on trial for the past month.

Alex’s hail mary occurred in Sept. 2021, when he hired his drug dealer to shoot him in the head. The shot hit in in the back of the head so it was not fatal, but it has been reported that this suicide attempt was to provide his surviving son, Buster, with life insurance money. 

This case is one that is very sad, and unfortunately does not end with a happy ending. Murdaugh has been testifying in court since all of February, and on March 2, was found guilty for the murders of Paul and Maggie. The jury took a mere three hours to deliberate, showing how set in stone Alex’s fate was from the evidence and testimonies of the prosecution. The jury revealed that the most convincing evidence was a Snapchat video taken by Paul. Alex was heard in the background of the video taken five minutes before they were pronounced dead. This contradicted Alex’s supposed alibi of being at his parents’ home during the time of the crime. 

Murdaugh was found guilty on both counts of murder and given two life sentences, but his legal woes are far from over. Since the murders of Paul and Maggie, Alex has been involved with the embezzlement of money from clients of the firm and as well as an opioid addiction. He faces over 100 more charges to bring justice to the victims of years of illegal activity.

Although the show was filmed before the trial even took place, it gives first-hand insight into the town and the backstories to these crimes. The story of Alex Murdaugh is still unfolding and there is no telling what skeletons we may find in his closet.