By M.P. Pellicer | Eerie.News
On June 7, 2021, Maggie Murdaugh and her son Paul were gunned down on their property on the outskirts of Islandton, South Carolina. In the months to come the senseless crime sprouted more ugly heads than a hydra.
Margaret "Maggie" Kennedy Branstetter a graduate from the University of South Carolina, and granddaughter of a barber married Richard Alexander Murdaugh a member of the state's most powerful legal family. They had two sons, Buster and Paul.
Maggie favored staying at the family's 1,700 acre hunting lodge on Moselle Road outside the town of Hampton in South Carolina's low country.
On June 7, 2021, Maggie Murdaugh and her son Paul, 22, were shot on the grounds of their property known as Cross Swamp Farm around 9 p.m.
Alex Murdaugh found the bodies of his wife and son, riddled with bullets from a semi-automatic assault rifle and shotgun.
A double homicide in the rural town is surprising, but not as much as one would expect, since there were whispers the Murdaughs, who've been part of the community for over a century, have a history of tragic deaths. It seems that secrets and sins have come home to roost.
The Murdaughs have served as prosecutors and civil attorneys since 1910, for the Lowcountry's five counties in the 14th circuit which are Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Allendale and Colleton.
They've lived in the rural town town of Hampton where there isn't even a Walmart. Their law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick lies 65 miles away from Charleston.
Paul Murdaugh was troubled, and when he died he had a trial hanging over his head for a felony, boat-driving charge in connection to a 2019, incident where a 19-year-old woman, Mallory Beach, was killed.
He was one of six underage people who bought alcohol with fake IDs. They went boating to an oyster roast on Paukie Island.
Anthony Cook, Paul's childhood friend, and Mallory's boyfriend testified that Paul had argued with his girlfriend, then slapped her. Soon after he hit a bridge piling on Archer Creek, and six of them were thrown into the water. Five of them made it to shore, Mallory did not. Her body was recovered a week later.
However Paul's unusual behavior preceded this event. A family member said that when he was around 11, he told his aunt Nancy to "go f--k herself". He was known even then for not handling authority well.
Maggie spoiled her sons, especially Paul whose personality hinted at the troubles he would incur when he was older. She was a homemaker, who involved herself in all aspects of her children's life.
Later Paul's uncles would deny the family used it legal ties to protect him from the incident. There were accusations they had stopped Paul from being tested for his alcohol level.
It's been reported that among Paul's friend it was known he had a drinking problem, when an alter ego called "Timmy" would emerge. This version which had been around since 2015, was deranged and dangerous. He was known for shedding his clothes down to his boxer shorts. His friends learned when to recognize that Timmy was about to show up, and it was time to leave.
The family at the time of Paul's death was facing a civil suit placed by Mallory's mother.
The family had just settled another civil suit involving the wrongful death of Gloria Satterfield who died as a result of a "trip and fall" in February, 2018, in their home.
According to legal reports, while she was inside the Murdaugh's Hampton home, their dogs caused her to trip and fall down a flight of stairs, which resulted in her sustaining a brain injury.
The claim was settled for $500,000. Satterfield was a housekeeper for the Murdaughs. Documents showed that her death was not reported to the coroner, and an autopsy was not performed. She lingered approximately 20 days before she passed.
Later, reports describe where a document signed by a judge was found, affirming a total settlement of $4.3 million paid for Gloria's death. Alex Murdaugh did not pass this money on to Gloria's family.
According to a resident of Hampton, the only one in the whole family to go see Gloria when she was dying in the hospital was Maggie Murdaugh. She had been a housekeeper for the family for more than 20 years.
The Murdaughs who were usually on the other side of the law found themselves in a precarious situation, where they were the ones subject to investigation.
Alex Murdaugh's alibi was easy to verify. He said he was visiting a hospital where his father Randolph Murdaugh III lay dying. He passed away on June 10.
Despite the police looking initially at possible suspects close to home, there was no manhunt for a suspect.
Optics being everything by June 17, two brother of Alex Murdaugh appeared on Good Morning America asking for the public's help in finding the perpetrator.
Within a day of their appearance, police started to dredge swampland close to the lodge, and a tip line was set up.
It seemed that Paul Murdaugh had been getting threats prior to the shooting. Apparently the family didn't think they were credible. Paul's paternal uncles claimed the victims had no known enemies.
If you ask those around town you're likely to get a different version of who could have killed Maggie Murdaugh, and her son. Former employees, people they sued or prosecuted; there's several that could have been motivated by revenge.
On July 8, 2015, Stephen Smith, 19, a gay man from Hampton was found dead on a rural road. His skull was crushed and his shoulder was dislocated. His mother Sandy, 55, said she had been fighting since then to find out what happened to her son.
The NYPost reviewed the police file of the case, and it reflects where South Carolina Highway Patrol received at "least one anonymous tip connecting a member of the Murdaugh family to the Stephen Smith case." No one in the family was charged or considered a formal suspect in the case.
The two families which gossips believe had a motive for the murder are the parents of Mallory Beach, and the mother of Stephen Smith.
There's nothing like a murder case to air out a family's dirty laundry, no matter how well connected they are.
Sources familiar with the family claim that Alex and Maggie were living separate lives when she died. She would stay in their cottage in Edisto Beach, and he was at the hunting lodge in Islandton.
Alex Murdaugh was sued by his family's law firm after he confessed to siphoning millions through a fraudulent bank account. This was discovered in September, 2021. The firm also alerted law enforcement that Alex Murdaugh had admitted to hiring someone to shoot him in a suicide plot so his son Buster could receive a payout from a $10 million life insurance policy.
The man named Curtis "Fast Eddie" Smith, 61, according to Alex Murdaugh was his longtime drug supplier. He also happens to be a distant cousin and former client. The plot resulted with a bullet grazing Murdaugh's head.
An unidentified couple told the 911 dispatcher, "We are on Salkehatchie Road and there is a male on the side of the road with blood all over him and he’s waving his hands, He looks fine — but it kinda looks like a set-up, so we didn’t stop"
Murdaugh told 911, “I got a flat tire and I stopped and somebody stopped to help me. And when I turned my back, they tried to shoot me." When asked if he'd been shot, he said, "Yes, but I mean I’m okay … I can’t drive. And I’m bleeding a lot.”
Asked where he was wounded, Murdaugh replied, “I’m not sure — somewhere on my head."
In June 2022, Murdaugh and Smith were indicted on conspiracy and drug charges. It's alleged that Smith received 437 checks totaling $2,413,754 from Murdaugh between 2013 to 2021. Smith would convert them into cash to benefit Murdaugh.
Alex Murdaugh was freed on a $20,000 bail and entered a rehab center to treat his opioid addiction which he's suffered from for 20 years. Upon his release from the center in October, 2021, he was taken into custody on two felony counts related to the mysterious death of Gloria Satterfield
In July, 2022, he was arrested for the murder of his wife and son. He was allegedly tied to the crime via blood splatter on his clothing, along with a video that placed him at the murder scene.
He was disbarred in South Carolina.
In September 2022, two men who are connected to the Walterboro Cowboys, a street gang have been dragged into the Murdaugh murder mystery.
According to one of the gang members, "Alex Murdaugh runs half the drugs in this county."
In August, 2022, the grand jury indicted two local men, Cowboy "cousins" Jerry Rivers, 39, and Spencer Anwan Roberts, 34, on charges that possibly involve being part of Murdaugh's drug and money laundering operation in the Low Country.
Alex Murdaugh is now facing a total of 90 charges of financial wrongdoing that include "drug distribution and money laundering" across several counties. It's been discovered the operation was bigger than anyone suspected.
Local criminal groups close to I-95 which has been used as a conduit tor run guns and drugs from Miami to New York are said to be involved.
Members of the Cowboys claim they want to drag in the gang's name into the case to muddy the water.
There's even a theory based on information posted on a Web-Sleuth forum after the murder of Paul and Maggie, that Murdaugh had a long-time friendship with Barrett T. Boulware a fisherman based out of Beaufort. He was arrested in 1980, along with his father on drug smuggling charges, where 15 tons of marijuana were seized on a shrimp boat in the Bahamas. The charges were dropped in 1983, after a "key government witness was killed when he stepped in front of a car in Florida,” the State newspaper reported at the time.
Boulware who died in 2018, sold the hunting lodge on Moselle Road to Murdaugh in 2009. Boulware co-owned several odd and out of the way properties along the waterways of St. Helena Island, which would be ideal for smuggling. Access to the islands is only possible by boat.
Murdaugh's murder trial is slated to start in January 2023. The whereabouts of his surviving son Buster, 26, are unknown.
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