The Murdaugh Family Murders: A Real-Life Story of Tragedy and Mystery

by mcardinal

Megan Udinski, FISM News


Some say art imitates life, but in this case Alex Murdaugh’s life resembles that of a John Grisham novel. In a tragic turn of events, the Murdaugh family name which once meant prominence and affluence, now emanates loss and mystery. 

From 1920 until 2005, a member of the Murdaugh family in South Carolina held the seat of the 14th Circuit Solicitor, more commonly known as the area district attorney. For years the family has held power and wealth, acting in essence as small town royalty in an otherwise depressed county.

Over the past few years, however, the Murdaugh family has dealt with tragedy in a way that one would not wish on their worst enemy.

It started in in 2019 when one of the sons in the family, Paul Murdaugh, crashed a boat that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Mallory Breach, one of the six passengers aboard the vessel. The young Murdaugh was awaiting trial on three felony charges of boating under the influence, which he plead not guilty to, when further tragedy struck the family.

On June 7, 2021, Alex Murdaugh called 911 reporting his wife and son had been shot and were not breathing. He had just returned from the hospital where he took his sick father. In spite of this seemingly iron-clad alibi, however, Alex remained a person of interest in the case.

Three days later Randalph Murdaugh III, died peacefully in his home at age 81 but due to the horrific events a few days prior, the family felt unable to celebrate his life as they mourned the loss of two more family members, according to John Murdaugh, one of Alex’s brothers. 

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has continued to pursue leads, but there have been no arrests in the case. Chief Mark Keel stated, “This case is complex, and we will not rush this or any investigation. …SLED agents continue to interview possible witnesses, collect and process potential evidence, and investigate every lead with the same diligence we devote to every case”. 

Not much information has been released since the beginning of the investigation but it is known that Paul was murdered with a shotgun while Maggie, his mother, was shot with a semi-automatic rifle, leading some to believe there was more than one perpetrator. 

Adding further mystery to the case, on Sept. 4, Alex called 911 saying he had been shot. The wound was labeled as a “superficial gunshot wound to the head” according to a hospital statement. However, a family friend later released a statement saying that Alex sustained an entry and exit wound indicating it was more than a minor wound. They also shared that Alex had pulled over to check his tire pressure after a sensor had alerted him it was low. According to Murdaugh, a man in a blue truck asked if he had car issues and as Alex responded the man shot him. There is still no suspect.

On Sept. 6, Alex released a statement through his attorney which read:

The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret. I’m resigning from my law firm (Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick) and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated by these murders. I am immensely sorry to everyone I’ve hurt including my family, friends and colleagues. I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself and my relationships.

It was reported that this was due to an opioid addiction, and the South Carolina Supreme Court promptly suspended his license on Sept. 8 until further notice. 

On Sept. 13, a statement released by SLED announced “based upon allegations that he (Alex) misappropriated funds in connection to his position as a former lawyer with the Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, & Detrick (PMPED) law firm in Hampton, South Carolina” they have opened up a case against Alex. 

Most recently on Monday, Alex Murdaugh admitted to investigators that he had planned his own murder in an attempt to leave life-insurance money to his remaining son. He had conspired with 61-year-old Curtis Edward Smith to shoot him while he was on the remote road, in the botched assisted suicide scheme.