Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were a mother and son from a prominent South Carolina family who were found shot to death at the family’s Colleton County hunting lodge, “Moselle,” on June 7, 2021. The family’s law firm confirmed their deaths.
Paul Murdaugh was a controversial figure who was involved in a 2019 fatal boating accident that took the life of Mallory Beach, 19. Murdaugh, 21, was from Hampton, South Carolina.
The Murdaughs are a powerful legal family in South Carolina. The State newspaper described the family as representing “power, justice, and big money” for nearly a century. The hunting lodge is located in Islandton, South Carolina.
The two were shot “execution style” in a premeditated “very ugly” scene, FITSNews reported. According to The Augusta Chronicle, the bodies were found “outside the residence, near a dog kennel,” and the coroner confirmed they died from “multiple gunshot wounds.”
The suspect or suspects are not clear; neither is the motive, authorities said, though they said “there is no danger to the public,” according to FITSNews.
FITSnews reported through sources that a Murdaugh family member is a “person of interest,” and that R. Alexander Murdaugh – Paul’s dad and Maggie’s husband – is “a central focus of the probe.” The site noted that he has an alibi but quoted a source as saying there are “credible concerns” about when the shootings happened and said authorities are looking into “possible manipulation of the crime scene.”
The site says many are comparing the murders to a John Grisham novel.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Victims Were Shot to Death With Different Weapons, Reports Say
Authorities have not released many details. However, FITSNews reported, via law enforcement sources, that the Murdaughs died from “multiple gunshot wounds.”
The site reported that Maggie’s husband and Paul’s father, Richard Alexander Murdaugh Sr., discovered the bodies outside one of two homes on their 1,700-acre property around 10 p.m. on Monday, June 7, 2021. The Post and Courier reported that Maggie was found a few yards away from Paul.
Paul is the shorter brother in family photos; the other brother is Richard Alexander Murdaugh Jr., known as “Buster,” who was not harmed. There’s no indication he was present. He works at the family’s law firm, according to his Facebook page.
The Island Packet reported, also through sources, that the victims were shot with different weapons — a shotgun and an assault rifle. According to the outlet, Alex Murdaugh said he wasn’t home at the time of the shootings.
South Carolina law enforcement has only confirmed that they are “leading an investigation into a double homicide that took place in Colleton county last night,” FITSNews reported.
Heavy has contacted the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division for more details.
2. Paul Murdaugh Was Facing Felony Charges in Beach’s Death
The tragedy of Beach’s death casts a shadow over the shooting of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, although there’s no indication at this point that the deaths are related. Paul Murdaugh is pictured on the left in the above photo.
Beach died in a boating crash near Beaufort, South Carolina, in 2019, and, according to The State, two teens were “suspected of driving the boat while drunk.” One of them was Paul Murdaugh. He was facing three felony counts of boating under the influence at the time of his death, according to The Island Packet.
The Beach family released this statement to WJCL through an attorney:
The Beach Family extends its deepest and warmest sympathies to the Murdaugh family during this terrible time. Having suffered the devastating loss of their own daughter, the family prays that the Murdaughs can find some level of peace from this tragic loss. They would like the family and the community to know that their thoughts and continued prayers are with the Murdaughs. It is their most sincere hope that someone will come forward and cooperate with authorities so that the perpetrator of these senseless crimes can be brought to justice.
According to The State, the Triton boat owned by Alex Murdaugh rammed into a bridge, ejecting six passengers ages 19 and 20. Only Beach died.
Police alleged the survivors were “grossly intoxicated,” The State reported.
According to The Island Packet, Renee Beach, Mallory’s mom, filed a lawsuit against former solicitor Randolph Murdaugh III, his son Richard Alexander Murdaugh, and his grandson Richard Alexander Murdaugh Jr. — Paul’s older brother Buster. The suit alleged that Buster Murdaugh allowed Paul Murdaugh, who the outlet said was not named in the suit, to use his ID to buy alcohol.
According to WSAV-TV, depositions in that case alleged that Paul Murdaugh was “drunk and belligerent,” even acting “like he was on drugs,” and he refused people’s attempts to get him to stop driving the boat. He was described as “crazy drunk,” and his girlfriend, another woman (not Beach), alleged he “slapped her and spit on her as she sat on a cooler,” the television station reported.
Paul Murdaugh’s case was pending at the time of his death and hadn’t changed since “his bond was modified to allow him to travel” in July 2019, The Island Packet reported.
The outlet noted that “the Murdaugh family is well known” in the state not only because of their law practice but because voters elected multiple members of the family to the state’s 14th Judicial Circuit from 1920 to 2006.
Online rumors that Renee Beach was a Beaufort jumper on June 9, 2021, are false, FITSNews reported.
3. R. Alexander Murdaugh Is a Prominent Lawyer at a Family Law Firm Who Handles Wrongful Death Cases
R. Alexander Murdaugh is a well-known attorney with the Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick Law Firm.
His company bio says that he graduated from Hampton High School and received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Carolina in 1990, “a Juris Doctorate Degree in May 1994 from the University of South Carolina School of Law and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in November 1994.”
“Alex represents injured persons in all areas of personal injury law, including trucking cases, products liability and wrongful death. He also serves as a part-time Prosecutor for the 14th Judicial Circuit,” the bio says.
4. The Murdaugh Family’s Legal Ties Are Extensive
According to The State, “three generations of Murdaughs have been state prosecutors,” solidifying the family’s power in legal circles.
That resulted in many convictions and also people sent to death row. They run a family law firm in Hampton that “has won millions of dollars in civil lawsuits,” the newspaper reported, including “relentlessly pursuing those at fault in fatal collisions.”
On her Facebook page, Maggie Murdaugh posted multiple photos showing her with her husband and their two sons. In 2020, she wrote a tribute to Alex for Father’s Day: “Happy Happy Father’s Day to the best who everybody loves❤️ Thank you for all u do for our family. You work so hard for your family and our kids r so lucky! Dad,Coach,Teacher and best friend😘”
She also posted pictures of previous family trips to “Moselle,” including quail hunting excursions.
5. A Family Member Implored People Not to Bring up ‘Negativity’
According to FITSNews, a family member, Mary Elizabeth Murdaugh, tweeted, “If you are going to report this case please only speak of those who have been killed. It is not respectful to discuss the family or any reputation. They have passed away do not bring up any piece of negativity in the past. Give us a moment please.”
The tweet has since been deleted.
The Island Packet reported that “a Murdaugh relative on the porch of a home near the crime scene” had just been notified and commented, “Now’s not a good time, as you can imagine.”
Paul Murdaugh’s Facebook page shows photos of him hunting and with family, but the last publicly visible post is from 2013.