The Mystery of the Murdaugh Family Murders

The Mystery of the Murdaugh Family Murders

The Murdaugh family began as a valued and successful empire that dominated their small town in South Carolina. Their story is fascinating, as the result was the speedy downfall of their powerful dynasty. The immediate Murdaugh family consisted of parents Maggie and Alex Murdaugh, and sons Paul and Buster Murdaugh. The controversy within the family and small town arose when Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were suddenly murdered on the night of June 7th, 2021 in the yard of their luxurious home. Alex Murdaugh was soon after accused of committing the crime, and the jury found him guilty in less than three hours of deliberation following a six week trial. In his final words before being escorted to prison, he upheld his opening statement that he did not have anything to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul. The prosecution’s claims provided throughout the trial differed from this, arguing that the murders and deaths were intended to be a diversion from Alex’s financial wrongdoing that was starting to reveal itself. The question at hand is essentially, where did the family’s success begin to take a turn for the worse?


The Murdaugh family was extremely wealthy, and the children of the family grew up in a sheltered and privileged manner. Alex was a heavy drinker, and according to an ex-girlfriend of Paul Murdaugh, Morgan Doughty, he provided his sons as well as other minors with an abundance of alcoholic beverages. Several Snapchat videos recovered from various parties display Paul Murdaugh drunk and disorderly, supporting Morgan’s recollection of his lifestyle. Morgan claimed that Paul himself was a “sweet” person, but when drunk he had a “dark side.” One of Paul’s friends, Anthony Cook, adds to this explaining that Paul’s social circle referred to him as “Timmy,” when drunk as a form of symbolism that he had become a different person. The story and fate of this mysterious family worsened on February 24th, 2019, when Paul and his friends were returning from a party. He was severely intoxicated, with blood alcohol levels three times the legal limit. His friends responsibly suggested that they get a ride home, but Paul drunkenly insisted that he drive them home on the family’s boat, so Paul along with five other friends boarded the boat. He was driving erratically and the friends quickly became worried about what would ensue. Anthony, one of the teens present, insisted that he should drive the boat, but Paul refused. The boat eventually crashed into a bridge, sending the teens flying into the water. When they reached the surface, they could not find 19 year old Mallory Beach, Anthony’s girlfriend. Anthony made multiple attempts to find her, continuously swimming against the current, and even stayed at the scene for hours while others chose to leave. Mallory’s body was found days later, and Paul faced three felony charges of boating while under the influence resulting in death, but was killed before he could appear in trial. Immediately following the accident, Paul told police that he needed to call his family in order to legally protect himself, considering that the family was so respected and admired within the community. Furthermore, video obtained from the scene shows police comforting Paul, telling him that it would “be ok,” instead of questioning him about the incident, likely due to his family’s status. In court, Alex Murdaugh used this incident as reason that one would have motive to kill Paul and Maggie, but prosecutors once again refuted this, questioning why one searching for revenge against Paul would kill Maggie as well.


The boating accident resulted in speculation regarding the death of Stephen Smith in the small community. Stephen’s death occurred in 2015, and was initially ruled to be a hit and run, but in the past week the investigation has been reopened and deemed a homicide because of both the popularity of the Alex Murdaugh trial, and the evidence presented throughout it serving as relatively new information. Stephen’s body was found on the morning of July 8th on a road close to the Murdaugh home. What makes law enforcement skeptical in regards to Buster’s innocence in the case, is the fact that inside of the tight knit community, rumors had circulated about an “intimate” and romantic relationship between Buster and Stephen, according to Morgan Doughty. Morgan explains that “being gay in the Murdaugh family would have been looked down upon,” serving as reason that he would be killed by Buster or someone associated with him. Buster unequivocally denies these claims, but Stephen’s mother lists him as a potential murder suspect in a letter to the FBI. His mother also detailed that her son’s death was reported to her by one of Alex Murdaugh’s brothers before the death was confirmed to her by officials, which understandably unsettled her and sparked suspicion.


The peculiar deaths connected to the Murdaugh family do not end there, the family is also associated with the death of Gloria Satterfield. Gloria was the family’s housekeeper who began her services in 2001 when Paul was two years old. Morgan recalls that Gloria was of great importance in Paul’s life, describing that she practically raised him. On February 2nd, 2018, Gloria allegedly tripped over the Murdaugh’s dogs and fell down the steep stairs outside, on the estate. Maggie was on the scene and was the one who called 911 and reported the accident. She later died in a hospital on February 26th of 2018, at the age of 57. Following the death of Gloria, Alex Murdaugh got into contact with her sons, and offered to take care of any insurance concerns in relation to her death. The sons trusted Alex, and assumed that the practices he would carry out would be in the best interest of the loyal housekeeper’s family. Alex went on to secure a 4.3-billion-dollar settlement for Gloria’s family, but failed to alert her or her children. Tony Satterfield, one of Gloria’s sons, testified in court that Murdaugh failed to mention the multimillion-dollar settlement and instead he found out after he read a news article. Prosecutors accused Alex of keeping the majority of the money that was reserved for Gloria’s family, and he was later charged for this on trial. Alex faced over 100 financial crimes on trial including the crime committed against Gloria and her family. Remarkably, many investigators have theorized that Maggie had something to do with Gloria’s death, and that it was not entirely accidental.


On March 2nd of this year, Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of two counts of murder and two counts of using a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He was sentenced to two life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole. Reigning son Buster Murdaugh released in a statement to news outlets that he continues to “grieve over the brutal murder of my mother and brother,” and denied any involvement in any type of criminal activity. Ironically, he is now residing in South Carolina with his girlfriend Brooklyn White, who is a successful lawyer. As for Alex Murdaugh, his legal team plans to appeal the court’s decision, but it is unlikely to make an impact on his current sentencing. It is incredible how quickly the Murdaugh family of wealthy lawyers collapsed into chaos, and justice has and will continue to be served for their victims.