What we know so far about the Murdaugh double murder at Moselle
COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Alex Murdaugh, the once-prominent former Lowcountry attorney who called authorities to report the murders of his wife and youngest son, will face a jury of his peers as he stands trial for the crimes in just a week’s time.
On the night of June 7, 2021, Alex Murdaugh called 911 at approximately 10:05 p.m. to report finding the victims — his 52-year-old wife, Maggie; and their youngest son, 22-year-old Paul — by the dog kennels at their Moselle property in Colleton County.
“I need the police and ambulance immediately. My wife and child have been shot badly,” he told the dispatcher, sounding distressed. “Neither one of them’s moving.”
SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases
State investigators from SLED soon swarmed the property but stayed quiet for 13 months.
But in July 2022 the other shoe dropped when a state grand jury indicted the 54-year-old for two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime in connection with the deaths.
Records state Maggie and Paul were shot with different types of long guns.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said the crimes took place sometime between 8:30 p.m. and 10:06 p.m. that night. The Colleton County Coroner’s office placed the time of death between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Murdaugh was initially reported to have been visiting his father, Randolph Murdaugh III, on his deathbed for “several hours” before the discovery. But his official alibi listed in court documents places him with his mother and her nurses’ aide at her house in Varnville for a total of 20 minutes during that narrow window of time.
His defense states he was at Moselle around 8:30 p.m. and left a few minutes after 9 p.m. and was at 115 Almeda Place from 9:20 p.m. to approximately 9:45 p.m.
Murdaugh told investigators he returned to the property shortly after 10 p.m. where he then discovered the crime scene. During the 911 call, Murdaugh told the dispatcher nothing seemed out of place.
He claimed he last saw Maggie and Paul alive when he left to visit his mother and had several phone conversations with five people during his travels, including his other son, Buster; his brother, sister-in-law; Chris Wilson and C.B. Rowe.
The dispatcher told him about six minutes into the call to avoid touching the bodies to protect any potential evidence. But Murdaugh responded it was too late.
“I already touched them trying to get... to see if they were breathing,” he said.
Murdaugh was wearing a white cotton shirt that night, which, according to court documents, has been tested for high-velocity blood spatter.
But the state’s testing of the shirt has been under fire by the defense, and the attorney general’s office is currently reviewing the blood evidence. A video was also taken that day, the defense claims.
The “light-hearted” conversation captured on Paul’s cellphone about the family dog, they wrote, showed “there is absolutely no indication of a disagreement or dispute” amongst them.
It is unclear at what time this video was taken.
Meanwhile, prosecutors called June 7 a “perfect storm” for the once-prominent lawyer.
Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters argued in court that the murders were an attempt to buy sympathy and time to cover up his financial wrongdoings on the precipice of being exposed.
“We’ve realized this is a white-collar case, that culminated with two murders,” Waters said at a Dec. 9 hearing.
Prosecutors also argue that earlier on the same day of the killings, a staffer from Murdaugh’s former law firm was demanding answers about hundreds of thousands of dollars of missing money and a hearing was just days away on the lawsuit filed by the family of Mallory Beach, who died in a boat crash. That lawsuit, prosecutors alleged, could have revealed Murdaugh’s financial records.
“Would he be so desperate to conceal that? That is the central question that is going to be front and center at this murder trial,” attorney Ronnie Richter said.
Murdaugh’s defense team has called the theory “illogical and implausible.”
Though the double homicide case is eligible for the death penalty, state prosecutors announced they would only be seeking life imprisonment for the crimes if Murdaugh were to be convicted.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.