Alex Murdaugh arranged for a man to kill him in a conspiracy to collect $10 million in life insurance for his son, authorities say
Sep 15, 2021, 6:45 AM
(CNN) — Alex Murdaugh, a prominent South Carolina lawyer, conspired with a man to shoot Murdaugh in the head this month so his son could collect a life insurance payout of about $10 million, authorities said.
Murdaugh, who survived the Sept. 4 shooting, admitted to the scheme on Monday, according to an affidavit to support the charges.
The 53-year-old attorney is described as a co-defendant in the affidavit, though no charges have been announced against him.
Murdaugh allegedly provided Curtis Edward Smith, 61, of Colleton County, with a firearm and told Smith to shoot him in the head, according to the affidavit.
The purpose of the scheme was for Smith to kill Murdaugh so that his son could collect the life insurance payout, according to the affidavit.
Smith has been charged with assisted suicide; conspiracy to commit insurance fraud; pointing and presenting a firearm; and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, according to a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED.
Smith admitted Tuesday to being present at the shooting of Murdaugh and to disposing of the firearm, the affidavit said.
Additional charges are expected in the case, SLED said. Smith has also been charged with the distribution of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana, according to SLED.
It’s not clear if Smith has retained legal counsel at this time. CNN has reached out to a Murdaugh family spokesperson for comment.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Murdaugh called 911 to report he had been shot on a road in Hampton County, according to a statement from SLED spokesperson Tommy Crosby. He was taken to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia, where he was treated for a “superficial gunshot wound to the head,” the statement said.
The next week, a family spokesperson issued a statement indicating that the injury was more serious and outlining more details of the incident.
“Alex pulled over after seeing a low tire indicator light. A male driver in a blue pick-up asked him if he had car troubles, as soon as Alex replied, he was shot,” the statement said.
Notable family in South Carolina
Murdaugh is a member of a very well-known family in legal circles in South Carolina. The Murdaugh family has had three generations serve as the 14th Circuit Solicitor, which leads prosecutions for Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties in the southern part of South Carolina.
More recently, they have been embroiled in a series of bloody tragedies — including the fatal shootings of Murdaugh’s wife and son Margaret and Paul in June.
The day before the shooting incident, Murdaugh had resigned from the law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED), according to the firm.
Days later, the firm said Murdaugh’s resignation came “after the discovery by PMPED that Alex misappropriated funds in violation of PMPED standards and policies.”
His license was subsequently suspended, according to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Randy Murdaugh IV, Alex Murdaugh’s brother and also an attorney at PMPED law firm, released a statement about the resignation acknowledging what attorney Jim Griffin would later specify as Alex Murdaugh’s opioid addiction.
“I was shocked, just as the rest of my PMPED family, to learn of my brother, Alex’s, drug addiction and stealing of money,” Randy Murdaugh wrote in the statement.
SLED announced Monday that it has opened an investigation into Murdaugh based upon the misappropriation fund allegations.
A family tragedy
Two days after the shooting, Murdaugh released a statement saying he was entering rehab.
“The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret,” he said in the statement. “I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated by these murders. I am immensely sorry to everyone I’ve hurt including my family, friends and colleagues. I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself and my relationships.”
On June 7, Alex Murdaugh called 911 and reported he found his wife Margaret, 52, and son Paul, then 22, shot dead outside of their home in Islandton, a small community about an hour north of Hilton Head Island, according to the SLED.
Both victims had multiple gunshot wounds, Colleton County sheriff’s deputies determined.
His brothers, John Marvin Murdaugh and Randolph “Randy” Murdaugh IV, soon after spoke to ABC’s “Good Morning America” about the killings and said they did not believe Alex was involved.
“My brother loved Maggie and loved Paul like nothing else on this earth, just like he loves (his other son) Buster,” Randy said. “So, there’s no possible way he could have anything to do with this, I can assure you.”
SLED asked the public to withhold judgment until the investigation is complete.
While investigating the mother and son’s deaths, SLED gathered information that prompted them to reopen an investigation into the unsolved death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith, whose body was found in the road in 2015 in Hampton County, the agency said.
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