A prominent South Carolina lawyer whose wife and son were killed earlier this year turned himself in Thursday after allegedly arranging his own death so his remaining son would get a life insurance payout.
Lawyer Alex Murdaugh, 53, was shot in the head along the side of a road on Sept. 4 by Curtis Edward Smith, 61, who authorities say was given the gun by Murdaugh himself. Murdaugh, who was only grazed in the head and survived, told police on Monday that he convinced Smith to kill him as part of a life insurance scheme that would have resulted in his surviving son receiving a $10 million payout.
Murdaugh turned himself in to Hampton County Law Enforcement Center late Thursday morning on charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report. Smith is also in police custody facing charges for his alleged role.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said in a statement Thursday: “I can assure you that SLED agents will continue working to bring justice to anyone involved with any criminal act associated with these ongoing investigations. The arrests in this case are only the first step in that process.”
The Murdaugh family has been a legal dynasty in coastal South Carolina for more than 85 years, CNN reported. In 2019, Alex Murdaugh’s son, Paul Murdaugh, was involved in a fatal boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach. Paul Murdaugh, who was 19 years old at the time, pleaded not guilty earlier this year on charges of boating under the influence causing death, court records obtained by CNN show.
Then, on June 7 of this year, Alex Murdaugh called 911 to report that his wife Margaret and son Paul had been shot dead outside their home in Islandton, according to SLED. Authorities have still not made any arrests in that shooting.
Alex Murdaugh’s lawyer, Dick Harpootlian, said his client decided to kill himself following the deaths of his wife and son, and the insurance scheme “was an attempt on his part to do something to protect” his only remaining child, CNN reported.
Authorities said they are also opening an investigation into a family housekeeper of the Murdaughs’ who died in the family’s home.
Gloria Satterfield, who had been a housekeeper for the family for two decades, died in 2018 in what was described as a “trip and fall” accident, according to her estate’s lawyer. But on Wednesday, SLED announced it was investigating her death after a coroner raised alarms.
“The decedent’s death was not reported to the Coroner at the time, nor was an autopsy performed,” the coroner’s request to SLED said. “On the death certificate the manner of death was ruled ‘Natural,’ which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident.”