Convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh started his life in prison for killing his wife and son on Friday, but mystery and scandal continues to swirl around the remains of his family, a prominent legal dynasty who had a lot of influence in the area.
Less than 24 hours after he was convicted on two counts of murder, Murdaugh, 54, appeared for sentencing at Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina on Friday, cuffed and wearing a dark khaki prison jumpsuit – a stark image of how far he had fallen from his high-flying life.
“Everyone knows [the Murdaughs], and in addition to that, they had a lot of influence here,” former friend John Wright said of the family, which had reigned over the Low Country’s legal system for over a century.
“I thought the jury might be more reticent or fearful about convicting [Alex].”
Although Murdaugh insisted before the sentencing he would “never” hurt his family, he was nonetheless handed two consecutive life terms for gunning down Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, at the family’s estate on June 7, 2021.
The conclusion of Murdaugh’s trial, however, still leaves several questions about three other suspicious deaths linked to the disgraced scion and his relatives– as well as the moneyed family’s own future.
Stephen Smith, 19, was found dead in the early hours of July 8, 2015 on Sandy Run Road outside Hampton County, not far from the 1,700-acre Moselle estate where Maggie and Paul and Maggie and Paul were later gunned down.
The nursing student was supposedly walking home from a night class at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College after his car ran out of gas on Highway 601, Bluffton Today reported.
Smith’s death certificate listed his cause of death as blunt force trauma, and his arm had also been dislocated and bent behind his body. Police initially attributed the injuries to a hit-and-run accident involving the side-view mirror of a semi truck, the local paper said.
The teen’s family, however, never accepted the accident explanation. According to ABC4, interviews with witnesses unearthed unfounded rumors of a relationship between Smith, who was openly gay, and Alex Murdaugh’s oldest son, Buster.
Some of the witnesses also speculated Buster, who testified in his father’s defense last month, could have been involved in Smith’s death, although no link has ever been publicly disclosed by law enforcement.
In June 2021, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) reopened a probe into Smith’s death based on information gleaned during the initial inquiry into the shooting deaths of Maggie and Paul earlier that month.
Speaking after Murdaugh’s conviction, Stephen’s mother Sandy told The Post: “That jury done excellent. They seen through the lies and a Murdaugh is finally brought down.
“Now that this case is back over they can get on Stephen’s case full time.”
As of March 2023, the investigation into Smith’s death remains ongoing.
The Murdaughs’ longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield spent three weeks in a coma following an alleged “trip and fall” incident at the family’s home. She died at the hospital on Feb. 8, 2018.
Alex Murdaugh claimed the family dogs caused Satterfield, 57, to trip, but her death was not reported to the coroner and an autopsy was not initially performed.
SLED opened a criminal investigation into Satterfield’s death in Sept. 2021, shortly after police busted Murdaugh’s bizarre plot to be fatally shot by his drug dealer in order to secure a $10 million life insurance payout for Buster.
On the same day SLED announced the new probe, Satterfield’s two sons filed a lawsuit claiming that Murdaugh never forked over the liability insurance money he promised after their mother’s death.
The grieving family recovered $4.3 million in stolen funds in October 2021. Satterfield’s son, Michael, later testified against Murdaugh at his trial.
In June 2022, SLED announced plans to exhume Satterfield’s body.
At the time of his murder, Paul Murdaugh was facing three felony charges – two of boating under the influence and one of causing death and bodily injury – for the river-based accident which killed Mallory Beach.
According to official reports and accounts from surviving passengers, Paul drunkenly drove his power boat into a piling of the Archers Creek Bridge around 2:20 a.m. on Feb. 23, 2019.
Beach, 19, was ejected from the boat into dark water. Her body was found one week later.
Paul was later found to have a blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit, CBS reported. Alex Murdaugh, who met his son and the other survivors at the hospital, was allegedly overheard at one point saying “[Mallory’s] gone. Don’t worry.”
By the time Maggie and Paul were killed in June 2021, the family was also facing a wrongful death suit filed by Beach’s family.
In bodycam footage from the scene of the Murdaugh killings, a strangely composed Alex Murdaugh can even be heard telling the responding officers he felt Maggie and Paul’s murder was linked to the fatal crash.
Almost two years later, Murdaugh repeated this theory on the stand.
“I did then believe [they were killed] because of the boat wreck and I do now,” he told prosecutor Creighton Waters last month.
An uncertain future
Now that Alex Murdaugh will officially spend the rest of his life behind bars, it remains to be seen what will happen to the remaining Murdaugh relatives as they try to return to life in the Low Country area they once ruled.
Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster, faces an especially lonely road after losing all of his immediate family members within two years.
“Buster held up pretty well until the cameras were off him — but then he collapsed,” a source told The Post of the 26-year-old’s reaction to the guilty verdict.
“He was crying uncontrollably. The uncles [Alex’s brothers, John Marvin Murdaugh and Randy Murdaugh] finally got him into a car.”
By: Ny Post