The 7 most stunning findings from Netflix’s “Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal” docuseries
The three-part documentary examines the Murdaugh family’s abuse of riches, power, and privilege.
The Murdaughs were previously a well-known family name in Hampton County, South Carolina, with an illustrious pedigree. Yet, that name is now well-known.
The Murdaugh family was known as “one of South Carolina’s most distinguished legal families,” consisting of generation after generation of district attorneys who handled criminal cases in the state’s 14th circuit district, dubbed “Murdaugh Country.” In 1910, the family established P.m.p.e.d. Law Firm, a globally prominent civil litigation law company that specialised in personal injury lawsuits. Simply put, the Murdaughs represented “law and order” in town, as well as the pinnacle of riches, luxury, and power.
It all changed in 2021 when the Murdaughs became a household name as a result of their horrific crime tale. The Murdaughs were linked to the murder of a Hampton County schoolboy in 2014. The death of the Murdaughs’ longtime housekeeper was linked to them in 2018. Another Hampton County student’s death in 2019 was linked to the family. In 2021, the deaths of Alex Murdaugh’s son Paul and wife Margaret “Maggie” were linked to the now-disgraced former attorney on trial for the June 7 killings.
“Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal,” Netflix’s latest true crime series, examines the Murdaughs and their stunning misuse of power and privilege. The three-part documentary, directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason of “Fyre Fraud” and “LulaRich,” chronicles the fall of the family’s dynasty through interviews with the Murdaughs’ former acquaintances, law enforcement, attorneys, and journalists who investigated Alex Murdaugh’s bizarre accusations.
Here are the series’ seven most stunning revelations:
For many years, the Murdaugh family managed Hampton County’s largest law business. Randolph Murdaugh Sr. founded the company, which was then passed down to his son Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh Jr., and then to Randolph Murdaugh III, Alex Murdaugh’s father.
According to Michael Dewitt, an editor at The Hampton County Guardian, the Murdaugh men all worked as solicitors or lead prosecutors, making them “law and order” in Hampton County for over a century.
“They ran both sides of the legal ledger, from civil to criminal,” Dewitt explained. “They had a network that included judges and lawyers, law enforcement, sheriffs, and the common citizen who sat on the jury. In this area, they were the law.”
“And they were sometimes above the law.”
The Murdaughs exploited their riches and status, and their son Paul learnt early on that he could get away with dangerous and excessive behaviour. Morgan Doughty, Alex’s ex-girlfriend, recalled Alex buying booze for Paul and his young buddies. When Paul was highly intoxicated, he frequently put himself and Morgan in perilous positions. Paul once drove his pickup truck, which was filled with beer cans and firearms, into a ditch while under the influence on his way home from a Christmas party. Paul became increasingly angry and cruel to Morgan.
Morgan, her pals Miley Altman, Connor Cook, Anthony Cook, and Mallory Beach, as well as Paul, attended an oyster roast party on February 23, 2019. The friends returned home via the Murdaugh family’s motorboat after a night of eating oysters and drinking. Things went downhill when a very drunk Paul took control of the boat and began speeding.
“Anthony was becoming irritated,” Morgan added. “Paul is shrieking at me, saying, ‘Why don’t you defend me?’ ‘Why would I have your back?’ I wondered. You’re yelling at us and making no sense. You’re behaving insanely.'”
She went on, “‘You know what’s crazy?’ he remarked as he glanced at me. Your father does not earn enough to maintain your family.’ When I started crying, Paul got in my face and just started shouting, which is when Paul smacked me.”
When the boat collided with a neighbouring bridge, everyone was thrown into the water. Mallory, on the other hand, was nowhere to be found, causing everyone to fear. Paul was described as unresponsive but unexpectedly peaceful.
“After we were on our way, Paul called his grandfather and said, ‘Yes, we were in a boat accident,'” Miley explained. “‘Oh yeah, they can’t find Mallory,’ they say. And said, ‘That was Cotton Top who did it.’ Cotton Top is Connor’s nickname.”
Seven days later, Mallory was discovered.
Despite begging with authorities, Renee Beach said she was unable to see the boat or the scene of the accident during the investigation into her daughter’s disappearance. Nonetheless, Randolph and Alex’s wife Maggie were both allowed to proceed to the site without being questioned.
“That’s when I realised the Murdaughs were more concerned with a cover-up than they were with finding Mallory,” Renee explained.
The Murdaughs were adamant about blaming Connor for the disaster and threatened Connor and his father to keep quiet about Paul’s role. The Murdaughs’ entire strategy was eventually disclosed by Mark Tinsley, the Beach family’s civil attorney, who discovered that the Murdaughs were close friends with several high-ranking authorities involved in the investigation. Michael Brock, the Department of Natural Resources’ main investigator for the first 24 hours, had intimate ties to the Murdaughs. When a recording of Anthony confessing to Paul killing Mallory was missing, it was assumed that Michael tampered with the police audio recordings. Michael Paul Thomas, another cop and known DNR operative, was referred to as “Alex Murdaugh’s b***h” since he had previously assisted Paul in getting out of trouble. Michael Paul Thomas was also the best friend of Alex’s brother, John Marvin Murdaugh.
According to phone records, John Marvin Murdaugh made many calls to Michael Paul Thomas on the night of the boat tragedy and in the days after. John Marvin Murdaugh also called Austin Pritcher, the officer who interrogated Morgan, Miley, Anthony, and Connor at the hospital after the accident. There was no contact with Renee or Mallory’s father, Phillip.
Employees at the hospital reportedly described “a genuine deliberate effort by Alex to influence what was happening,” according to Tinsley.
“Alex wasn’t concerned about finding Mallory,” Tinsley explained. “He was solely concerned with causing uncertainty, ensuring that nobody spoke, that everyone kept their lips shut, and that if they did, they wouldn’t be able to determine who was driving the boat.”
Alex contacted 9-1-1 on June 7, 2021, to report that his son and wife had been murdered on their Moselle estate. Maggie was shot numerous times in the chest and back, according to Valerie Bauerlein, a Wall Street Journal reporter who covers small-town America. She was also positioned “almost as if she’s fleeing something or someone.”
Paul, on the other hand, was shot once in the chest, twice in the neck, and once in the head. These were built with shotguns, which were plentiful on the Moselle property. His mother, on the other hand, was shot with an AR-15-style weapon loaded with a “Blackout 300” bullet. The Murdaughs, it turns out, also owned that particular gun, which was not given over to detectives to be ruled out as the murder weapon.
Being in the Murdaugh family’s circle could be considered a risk.
On July 8, 2015, six years before Maggie and Paul’s murders, Stephen Smith, a Murdaugh classmate, was discovered dead in the middle of a remote highway in Hampton County.
According to police recordings obtained by FITSnews journalist Will People, Stephen’s vehicle encountered mechanical troubles and ran out of gas on his way home. He was walking on the isolated roadway looking for aid when he died. He was discovered in the middle of the road, suffering from significant head injuries. His shoes remained on his feet, his telephone remained in his pocket, and his clothes were undamaged.
People noticed, upon closer study, that the police video and the evidence at the crime scene did not fit up: “If someone is going to get hit by a car, they’re probably not going to be in the centre of the road. You’re unlikely to come across them wearing loose-fitting shoes. You’re probably not going to find them the same way they found the blood patterns. Again, he was positioned in such a way that he was unlikely to detect them.”
A police report indicated that foul play was suspected, but no more investigation was conducted, and the case was closed. The story also implicated Alex’s eldest son, Buster Murdaugh, who many felt was in a love relationship with Stephen. Buster and his brother Paul were also suspected of Stephen’s death.
“As soon as the Murdaugh name was thrown into the picture, of having something to do relationship-wise with Stephen, I feel like the outlook on his case completely altered,” Olivia, Stephen’s close friend, remarked. “It progressed from seeking justice for Stephen to protecting the Murdaughs and assuring everyone that they had nothing to do with it.”
Gloria Satterfield, the Murdaugh family’s housekeeper and nanny, died the same year after sustaining a head injury. According to the Murdaughs, Gloria was on her way to pick up her check at the family’s hunting lodge when the family dog leapt on her at the top of a flight of steps, forcing her to fall head-first. According to the investigation, Alex stated that he spoke with Gloria shortly after her fall. Nevertheless, it was later discovered that this was incorrect because Alex was not present.
At Gloria’s funeral, Alex approached her sons, Tony and Brian Satterfield, and encouraged them to sue him for insurance money. The apparently beneficial endeavour turned out to be a swindle when the Satterfields did not get any of the $4.3 million promised to them.
The legal team for the Satterfields eventually secured a confession of judgement from Alex for the total quantity of money. Alex was later disbarred by the South Carolina bar, and his multiple money-laundering scams were exposed. Alex was embezzling money from his clients and was forced to resign from the firm.
Alex called 9-1-1 three months after Paul and Maggie were killed, stating he was shot in the head while repairing a flat tyre. But, additional police reports and testimony from Alex’s lawyer painted a different picture.
Alex’s lawyer revealed that Alex requested his former customer and drug dealer, Curtis Edward Smith, to shoot him so that his surviving son, Buster, could get a $10 million life insurance payout. Alex and Curtis were later charged with conspiracy and insurance fraud, among other things.
Alex’s attorneys also argued that he was buying opioids using the money he stole from clients. A closer look at Alex’s money spending revealed that he was writing over $160,000 in incremental checks to Curtis from October 2020 to May 2021 in an attempt to frame him for his “murder” and the murders of his son and wife.
Authorities accused Alex of murdering Paul and Maggie in order to divert attention away from his 88 criminal counts of embezzlement and other fraud, including breach of trust, money laundering, computer crimes, and forgeries. In the June 2021 deaths, Alex pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two weapons offences.
On Thursday, Feb. 23, Alex testified in his own defence, claiming that he did not murder his wife and kid. He admitted lying to authorities about his whereabouts on the night of June 7, 2021 — Alex claimed he took a golf cart to the family’s dog kennels after dinner, then returned to his residence, lay on the couch, and visited his mother. He attributed the lies to his drug use, which he claimed: “led me to have paranoid thoughts.”
Alex said he grabbed a revolver after discovering the remains of his son and wife because he “didn’t know if anyone was still out there.” He further said that after dialling 9-1-1, he attempted to contact his brothers Randy and John, as well as his buddy Rogan Gibson.