New car data places Alex Murdaugh at the spot where wife’s phone was dumped – before he sped away

Maggie’s cellphone was found by investigators one day after the murders, dumped by the side of a road around a quarter of a mile from the Murdaugh property

Rachel Sharp
Saturday 18 February 2023 15:01 GMT
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Newly obtained car data has placed Alex Murdaugh at the spot where his wife’s phone was later found dumped – before he quickly sped away from the scene.

The data, handed over by General Motors just last week, shows the disgraced legal dynasty heir left the family home in his 2021 Chevy Suburban at 9.07pm on the night of 7 June 2021 – just minutes after he allegedly shot and killed his wife Maggie and son Paul.

One minute later, while driving at a speed of 42 mph, his car passed the very spot along Moselle road where Maggie’s cellphone was recovered from the shrubbery the next day.

After passing that spot, his car then picked up speed, reaching 52mph just one minute later at 9.09pm and continuing to go at a high speed all the way to his mother’s house.

“After passing that location, the defendant’s vehicle accelerates,” SLED Agent Peter Rudofski testified.

Jurors have previously learned that Maggie’s cellphone was found by investigators one day after the murders, dumped by the side of a road around a quarter of a mile from the Murdaugh property.

Prosecutors claim that Mr Murdaugh took her phone after killing her and Paul and then tossed it out the window of his moving car while driving to his mother’s home to build an alibi for himself.

In previous testimony from SLED Lt. Britt Dove, who works in the computer crimes centre, jurors heard how the last orientation change – or movement – on Maggie’s phone was at 9.06pm.

Then, at 9.07pm, the screen had gone on and off as though it was in someone’s hand.

The screen did not come on again until 9.31pm when the phone received an incoming call.

Lt Dove testified that an orientation change can only be recorded if the screen is on, meaning the phone could have been thrown from the car between those times and no change would have registered.

Now, the new car data places Mr Murdaugh at the location of the phone dumping just one minute after the phone was last known to have been handled.

This new revelation came as Agent Rudofski took the witness stand in Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina on Friday, becoming the last witness for the prosecution in the high-profile murder trial.

He told jurors that his role in the investigation was to put all the data together into a timeline showing what happened on the day of the murders.

Map shows Alex Murdaugh’s car at the spot where Maggie’s phone was later found
Map shows Alex Murdaugh’s car at the spot where Maggie’s phone was later found (Law & Crime)

Agent Rudofski revealed that General Motors had contacted law enforcement last week to hand over a trove of data from Mr Murdaugh’s 2021 Chevy Suburban, including never-before-seen speed and GPS data.

This came after another law enforcement official had testified about the movements of the SUV – and in turn what it shows about the movements of Mr Murdaugh and his alibi for the brutal killings.

Jurors were shown detailed maps of the disgraced legal dynasty heir’s car’s movements, covering his speed and location at specific points that day.

In another bombshell moment, he revealed that less than 20 seconds passed between the moment Mr Murdaugh’s car arrived at the dog kennels and the start of his 911 call where he claimed he found Maggie and Paul’s bodies.

During the 911 call – and in interviews Mr Murdaugh gave in the aftermath of the murders – he claimed he had touched both his wife and son’s bodies to check for signs of life before calling 911.

He also claimed that when he moved Paul, his cellphone “popped out of his pocket”. He said he picked it up but then put it back down on his son.

The data shows that Mr Murdaugh’s car arrived at the kennels at 10.05.57pm, he said.

Mr Murdaugh made the 911 call 10.06.14pm – just 17 seconds after his car pulled into the kennels.

As well as the detailed car data, the agent also used data from cellphones belonging to Maggie, Paul and Mr Murdaugh to pinpoint all of their movements on that fateful day.

Alex Murdaugh cries during his trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina
Alex Murdaugh cries during his trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina (AP)

Agent Rudofski testified that the data shows Mr Murdaugh left the family home at 12.07pm that day and drove to work at his law firm PMPED, arriving at 12.21pm.

He then left work at 6.24pm, arriving home at 6.42pm.

This contradicts the version of events Mr Murdaugh gave to law enforcement in the aftermath of the murders – claiming he had gone to work in the morning and arrived home at 5.30pm.

Mr Murdaugh then drove to his parents’ home at 9.07pm arriving at 9.22pm.

He left 21 minutes later at 9.43pm – again contradicting Mr Murdaugh’s claim during multiple police interviews that he stayed around 45 minutes to an hour.

Muschelle “Shelly” Smith, who worked as a caregiver to Mr Murdaugh’s mother Libby from October 2019, previously told jurors that Mr Murdaugh stayed just 20 minutes at the home.

A few days after the murders, she testified that he told her to tell authorities he had been there double the length of time. He also offered “to help her out” with paying for her upcoming wedding and putting in a good word for her with her other job, she testified.

As well as casting doubt on his timeline of the day’s events, the data also reveals a change in behaviour in the time after the murders – notably the speed he was driving.

On his journeys to and from his law firm, he drove at maximum speeds of 60 mph and 54 mph, jurors heard.

His maximum speed to and from his parents’ home was 74 mph and 80 mph.

The data shows Mr Murdaugh arrived back at the family home at 10pm and then driving to the kennels at 10.05pm.

He has claimed he drove to the kennels after finding Maggie and Paul weren’t there.

Once there, he claims he discovered their bodies and placed the 911 call.

The voicemail Paul Murdaugh left for his father one month before the murders
The voicemail Paul Murdaugh left for his father one month before the murders (Law & Crime)

Jurors were reminded of the cellphone data previously revealed in court, including the final text messages and phone calls made or seen by Paul and Maggie before their brutal murders.

On the night of 7 June, Paul placed a call on his cellphone to friend Rogan Gibson at 8.40pm, lasting four minutes, followed by a second call at 8.44pm. The second was the last incoming communication Mr Gibson received from Paul’s cellphone.

Five minutes later, at 8.49pm, Mr Gibson sent Paul a text message: “See if you can get a good picture of it. Marion wants to send it to a girl we know that’s a vet. Get him to sit and stay. He shouldn’t move around too much.”

The message – believed to be about a dog Paul was taking care of for him – went unanswered.

Maggie read a message on her phone sent to the family group at 8.49pm.

From that point onward, neither Paul nor his mother Maggie responded to any messages or calls on their cellphones.

Prosecutors claim that Paul was shot dead first at 8.50pm and Maggie moments later. Their cellphones had no activity from 8.49pm onward.

The prosecution theory is that Mr Murdaugh shot dead Maggie and Paul by the dog kennels of the family’s sprawling estate in Islandton, in order to distract from his string of alleged scandals and financial crimes.

Mr Murdaugh, 54, is facing life in prison for the murders of his wife and son. He has pleaded not guilty.

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