Alex Murdaugh Surrenders After Trying to Fake His Own Killing: Latest Updates
But Mr. Murdaugh, part of a prominent family of South Carolina lawyers, has denied any involvement in the unsolved killings of his wife and son in June.,
The prominent South Carolina lawyer whose life has unraveled in the months after his wife and son were fatally shot was arrested on Thursday after he admitted to staging his own murder earlier this month, but he maintained that he had no involvement in the killing of his family.
Alex Murdaugh, the lawyer, was charged with insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, as well as with filing a false police report in connection with the suicide scheme, which his lawyers said was meant to ensure that his other son could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy.
Mr. Murdaugh devised the plan while depressed by the loss of his family and struggling to stop abusing oxycodone, his lawyers said. They said he had wrongly believed that his insurance policy would not pay out if his death was ruled a suicide.
The arrest of Mr. Murdaugh, 53, is the latest turn in a series of stunning developments in the rural South Carolina Lowcountry, where the Murdaugh family has built power over more than a century — first by leading a regional prosecutor’s office for eight decades over three generations, and more recently through its family law firm.
The killing, in June, of Mr. Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and college student son, Paul, brought intense scrutiny to the Murdaughs and to three other deaths that took place in proximity to the family in recent years.
In 2015, a 19-year-old man, Stephen Smith, was found dead along a road 10 miles from the Murdaugh home, his death ruled a probable hit and run. In 2018, a longtime housekeeper for the Murdaugh family, Gloria Satterfield, 57, died in what was initially described as an accidental fall, but an autopsy was never conducted. And, at the time he was killed, Paul Murdaugh was facing charges that he had drunkenly crashed a boat in 2019, killing 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
The death of Mr. Murdaugh’s wife and son spurred the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to open new investigations into the deaths of Ms. Satterfield and Mr. Smith. The police have not accused the Murdaughs of wrongdoing in either case.
Since the double-killing in June, Mr. Murdaugh has repeatedly made headlines. Earlier this month, leaders of his family law firm pushed him out of the company, saying he had misused millions of dollars of client and firm money.
The next day, Sept. 4, Mr. Murdaugh asked one of his former clients, Curtis E. Smith, to kill him on the side of a rural road, the police said. Mr. Murdaugh was shot in the head but survived with what his lawyers described as a skull fracture and was released from the hospital after two days. He told the police at the time that he had been shot by someone who had pulled up beside him as he was changing a tire, a story that he now admits was false.
Days after the shooting, Mr. Murdaugh issued a vague statement apologizing to his family and colleagues and checked into a drug rehabilitation program for his oxycodone addiction.
He had been at the out-of-state rehab center until he turned himself in on Thursday. He was booked into jail in Hampton County, S.C., and an initial court hearing was scheduled for later in the afternoon.
Chief Mark Keel of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said in a statement that agents would keep working to bring justice to anyone involved in the various investigations that the killing of Mr. Murdaugh’s family have spurred.
“The arrests in this case are only the first step in that process,” he said.
The South Carolina attorney general will oversee the case after the chief prosecutor in the region recused himself because he had worked closely with Mr. Murdaugh’s father when he served as the previous top prosecutor until 2006.