Alex Murdaugh: FBI helping to investigate the many shootings and bizarre cases surrounding former lawyer

‘From very early on in this investigation SLED has utilized federal resources as needed,’ says the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division

Nathan Place
New York
Friday 24 September 2021 20:04

Former client charged with shooting Alex Murdaugh in insurance scam

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The FBI is helping with the Pandora’s box of investigations tied to Alex Murdaugh, a former lawyer accused of arranging his own death, South Carolina officials have confirmed.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) said on Thursday that the FBI has already been assisting it for some time.

“I have been in contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina,” SLED chief Mark Keel said in a statement. “From very early on in this investigation SLED has utilized federal resources as needed. We will continue to call upon our federal partners as their assistance is needed to successfully investigate and prosecute specific aspects of these cases.”

In recent months, Mr Murdaugh, the heir to a long line of powerful lawyers in South Carolina, has been connected to a series of shootings and bizarre incidents.

On 7 June, Mr Murdaugh called 911 to report that he’d found the bodies of his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, near some dog kennels on their hunting property in Colleton County. Both were dead of gunshot wounds. Their murders remain unsolved.

“He is totally distraught,” Mr Murdaugh’s attorney, Richard Harpootlian, later told NBC News. “He did not murder them.”

Then, on 4 September, Mr Murdaugh himself was shot while changing a tire on the side of a road in Hampton County. He survived, and later admitted to police that he had arranged the shooting. A former client of his, Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was charged two days later with firing on him at Mr Murdaugh’s behest.

Police say the plan was for Mr Murdaugh to die so his surviving son, Buster, could inherit $10m in life insurance money. He has been arrested and charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report.

Mr Murdaugh’s lawyer says he has struggled with a decades-long addiction to drugs, and this played a role in his attempt at assisted suicide.

“For the last 20 years, there have been many people feeding his addiction to opioids. During that time, these individuals took advantage of his addiction and his ability to pay substantial funds for illegal drugs,” Mr Harpootlian said in a statement. “One of those individuals took advantage of his mental illness and agreed to take Alex’s life, by shooting him in the head.”

Then, on 15 September, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced that it was investigating the death of Gloria Satterfield, a longtime housekeeper and nanny for the Murdaugh family.

Ms Satterfield died in 2018 under mysterious circumstances. Mr Murdaugh told her family that she tripped and fell down some stairs at his home. But the Hampton County coroner, Angela Topper, thought Mr Murdaugh’s story didn’t add up, and wrote a letter to SLED asking them to investigate.

Meanwhile, Ms Satterfield’s sons, Tony Satterfield and Brian Harriott, are suing Mr Murdaugh because they say he agreed to pay them a large settlement after their mother’s death – but they never received a penny of it.

That settlement was for $505,000. But according to the sons’ lawyer, Eric Bland, new information shows they’re owed as much as $4m.

The Independent has reached out to Mr Harpootlian for comment, but has not yet heard back.

With so many cases related to Mr Murdaugh, it is perhaps not surprising that local investigators have called in the FBI for help.

“SLED agents continue to work diligently to bring justice to all victims in these cases,” Mr Keel said on Thursday. “As I have previously stated, our agents remain committed to following the facts no matter where they lead us.”