A grand jury’s indictment of South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh on murder charges — saying he killed his wife and son — is the latest bombshell to drop in a case that has transfixed the public.
The grand jury in Colleton County indicted Murdaugh on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, state law enforcement officials announced on Thursday.
The investigation into the tragic deaths of Maggie Murdaugh and the couple’s son Paul last June pulled the veil back on a privileged family, exposing dozens of alleged financial crimes. It also renewed interest in other recent deaths linked to the family that have not been fully explained.
Here’s a brief recap of the shocking and sad events that preceded Murdaugh being charged with murder:
Feb. 24, 2019
The powerful Murdaugh family was thrust into headlines when Mallory Beach, 19, died after a late-night boating accident following an oyster roast in coastal South Carolina.
Authorities said Paul Murdaugh, then 19, was highly intoxicated and steering a boat carrying several friends when it struck a channel marker and the pilings of the R.C. Berkeley Bridge, running aground in Beaufort County, near Parris Island. The boat held a cooler full of ice and drinks. Beach’s body was found a week later.
May 6, 2019
More than 70 days after the boating accident, Paul Murdaugh was arraigned and released on bond after a brief court appearance, pleading not guilty to felony charges that include boating under the influence and causing Beach’s death. A grand jury had indicted Murdaugh more than two weeks earlier, on April 18.
The local community immediately criticized the slow pace, calling it a sign of deference to the Murdaugh family that has raised generations of lawyers in the area, including prosecutors.
June 7, 2021
Alex Murdaugh called 911 a little after 10 p.m., saying he had just discovered the bodies of Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22. They died at the family’s sprawling hunting property known as Moselle, in Islandton, part of Colleton County.
“My wife and child have been shot badly!” Alex Murdaugh told dispatchers. He reportedly told investigators that he had been visiting his own parents that night.
Two different weapons were used in the killings: an assault-style rifle for Maggie, and a shotgun for Paul. The coroner said they died between 9 and 9:30 p.m.
Sept. 3, 2021
The law firm founded by Alex Murdaugh’s family fired him, after determining that he illegally siphoned millions of dollars from the firm and its clients.
Sept. 4, 2021
Alex Murdaugh makes another call to 911, saying he’s been shot in the head while changing a tire on the side of the road. But state investigators say he orchestrated the incident, even providing a gun to Curtis Edward Smith, 61, to help him carry out an assisted suicide and insurance fraud.
Nine days later, Alex Murdaugh admitted to the scheme, which he said was an attempt to get his son a $10 million insurance payout.
July 14, 2022
Alex Murdaugh is indicted on murder charges.
“Over the last 13 months, [South Carolina Law Enforcement Division] agents and our partners have worked day in and day out to build a case against the person responsible for the murders of Maggie and Paul and to exclude those who were not,” said SLED Chief Mark Keel. “At no point did agents lose focus on this investigation. From the beginning I have been clear, the priority was to ensure justice was served. Today is one more step in a long process for justice for Maggie and Paul.”
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