Alex Murdaugh Will Serve Two Life Sentences For The Murder of His Wife And Son

mandatory credit photo by grace beahm alfordapshutterstock 13766705c alex murdaugh listens to testimony during his double murder trial at the colleton county courthouse in walterboro, sc murdaugh killings, walterboro, united states 13 feb 2023
Where Is ‘Murdaugh Murders’ Alex Murdaugh Now?Grace Beahm Alford/AP/Shutterstock

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Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal, a Netflix true crime docuseries, dives into the real events and sad story behind the killing of two members of an elite southern family from South Carolina. Paul Murdaugh, 22, and his mother Margaret "Maggie" Murdaugh, 52, were found dead in their family hunting lodge in June 2021.

But the scandals of the Murdaugh family begin long before that. A few years earlier, Paul had been involved in a boating accident that resulted in 19-year-old Mallory Beach's death. At the time of his own death, the then-22-year-old Paul was out on bail after being charged with felonies related to the fatal crash, according to The New York Times.

The Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal opens with Mallory's death. The teen had been ejected after a crash in a Murdaugh family boat, which allegedly was driven by a drunk 19-year-old Paul, according to people on the boat, per The New Yorker.

This tragic event was followed by Paul and Maggie Murdaugh's murder in June 2021. For the last few months, Alex Murdaugh, Paul's dad and Maggie's husband, was on trial for their deaths. Despite maintaining his innocence, he was indicted on two counts of murder back in July 2022, per The New York Times. During the trial, he even took the stand to defend himself and answer questions about his wife and son's deaths. The trial finally reached its verdict this week.

Here is everything you need to know about the subject of the new Netflix docuseries and the viral court case.

Who is Alex Murdaugh?

Alex Murdaugh, 54, is a member of the Murdaugh family in South Carolina. He is the father of Paul, and his older brother, who goes by Buster, and the husband of Maggie.

The Murdaugh family served as prosecutors in South Carolina’s Fourteenth Judicial Circuit for three generations (some 100 years) until 2005, according to the Office of the Solicitor, Fourteenth District. This long history of local legal leadership created an influx of wealth and power into the Murdaugh family.

Alex Murdaugh never ran for the prosecutor job, but he did volunteer as a prosecutor for the district. He was officially removed from that role in September 2022, per The New York Times.

He was found guilty on two counts of murder.

On March 2, 2023, Alex Murdaugh was found guilty on two counts of murder—for both his son Paul, 22, and wife Maggie, 52. He was also found guilty of two counts of possession of a weapon in the commission of a violent crime.

The jury deliberated for under three hours before finding Alex guilty. Judge Clifton Newman denied the defense's motion for a mistrial, saying there was an "overwhelming amount of testimony and evidence," per CNN.

The prosecutors never sought the death penalty for Alex's crimes. "I don't question at all the decision of the state not to pursue the death penalty. But as I sit here in this courtroom and look around at the many portraits of judges and other court officials and reflect on the fact that over the past century, your family — including you — have been prosecuting people here in this courtroom, and many have received the death penalty, probably for lesser conduct," Judge Clifton Newman said in court, per CNN.

Alex was sentenced to life in prison on March 3, 2023.

What are the ‘Murdaugh murders’?

In addition to the killings of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, the family has been linked to several other deaths and crimes. However the phrase ‘Murdaugh murders’ most often refers to the shootings of Paul and Maggie at their family hunting lodge in June 2021, per The New York Times.

Paul was reportedly shot with a shotgun in the head and chest, while his mother was killed with an assault rifle, per PEOPLE.

Alex Murdaugh called 911 that night, reporting he found the bodies near the family's dog kennels, per The New York Times. The call was made just after 10 p.m. And Alex told authorities that his son had been receiving threats related to the death of Mallory Beach.

No arrests were made in the case for more than a year.

Alex Murdaugh took the stand in his own trial.

On February 23, 2023, Alex Murdaugh took the stand to testify in his double murder trial. He has pleaded not guilty to the two murder charges and two weapons charges, per CNN.

"I am going to testify," he told the judge, CNN reported. "I want to testify."

The 54-year-old's biggest challenge in the courtroom was explaining why he originally told authorities he was visiting his parents during the time of the murders, when he had actually been at the family's dog kennels where the bodies were found, per The New York Times.

A video on Paul Murdaugh's cell phone confirmed that Alex was actually present at their Moselle residence just before the murders took place, per The New York Times. Alex claimed he lied because of paranoia (which he lated denied saying on the stand on February 24) fueled by his addiction to oxycodone.

"I lied about being down there, and I’m so sorry that I did,” he said, per The New York Times.

Alex claimed that he did not want to go down with his family to the kennels, but Maggie asked him to join them, per NBC News. However, Alex said he left the scene before the murders actually occurred and visited his parents at 9:07 p.m., per The New York Times. Prosecutors argued that Alex went to visit his parents after Paul and Maggie's deaths to establish an alibi.

"What a tangled web we weave. Once I told a lie—then I told my family—I had to keep lying,” Alex said on the stand, per The New York Times.

Alex also went on to admit that he asked someone shoot him in September 2021. He said on the stand that he did not want to kill himself because he believed it would prevent his son, Buster, from collecting his life insurance policy. He also admitted to stealing money from his clients during his time as a lawyer, to fuel his drug addiction.

"It was amazing to have you come and testify, that [the day of the murders] was just another ordinary day," Judge Clifton Newman said later, during Alex Murdaugh's sentencing per CNN. "Not credible. Not believable."

How many sons does Alex Murdaugh have?

Alex had two sons with Maggie: the late Paul Murdaugh and Alexander “Buster” Murdaugh, 26, who recently testified at his murder trial.

He was a lawyer.

Alex worked for a family law firm in Hampton County, South Carolina, called Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth and Detrick. He primarily worked with settlements for fatal accidents and workplace injuries, according to the Associated Press.

In September 2021, the firm reported that Alex had stolen funds from clients, per the Associated Press. At the time, the firm estimated Murdaugh had stolen over $1 million, per PEOPLE.

mandatory credit photo by grace beahm alfordapshutterstock 13766705c alex murdaugh listens to testimony during his double murder trial at the colleton county courthouse in walterboro, sc murdaugh killings, walterboro, united states 13 feb 2023
Alex Murdaugh was given double life sentences for the murder of his wife and son. Grace Beahm Alford/AP/Shutterstock

Alex Murdaugh said he played football in college.

In the Murdaugh Murders documentary, Marty Cook, the father of Connor Cook–another boy in the boat accident with Paul in 2019–said he and Alex Murdaugh went to Hampton High School together. The men also appear to have played on the football team together, based on photos in the docuseries.

According to his court testimony, Alex Murdaugh went on to play football in college. He attended University of South Carolina, but it is unclear if he played for the school's team. Alex said that he experienced a knee injury at that time, which reportedly led to his oxycodone addiction, per The New York Times.

While taking the stand on February 24, 2023, Murdaugh explained that Maggie and Paul were concerned about his drug addiction. Both knew he was addicted to oxycodone and tried to get him to detox many times, per NBC News.

Alex Murdaugh’s brothers maintained his innocence.

In a Good Morning America appearance shortly after the Paul and Maggie's murders, John Marvin Murdaugh and Randolph Murdaugh, Alex’s brothers, maintained his innocence.

“My brother loved Maggie and loved Paul like nothing else on this earth, just like he loves [his older son] Buster," Randolph told GMA. "So there's no possible way he could have anything to do with this, I can assure you.”

Alex also maintains that he was not present during the murders, reporting he was visiting his ailing mother at the time, according to the Associated Press.

Alex's younger brother, John Marvin Murdaugh, testified that he cleaned up the remains of Paul Murdaugh following his murder during Alex's trial, per PEOPLE.

"I felt like I owed him, and I just started cleaning, and I promise you, no mother, father, aunt, or uncle should ever have to see and do what I did that day. It's the hardest thing I've ever been through in my life," he said.

John Marvin Murdaugh said he willed to find whoever committed the crime. "I told Paul I loved him, and I promised him I'd find out who did this," he testified, per PEOPLE.

Alex Murdaugh attempted to commit insurance fraud.

In September 2021, Alex was shot in the head while changing a tire on the side of the road, according to his lawyer Jim Griffin, per PEOPLE.

However, this was a pre-planned attack, as Alex apparently was trying to make the planned suicide look like murder so that his living son, Buster, could collect $10 million in life insurance, per PEOPLE. Alex had hired a man named Curtis Edward Smith to shoot him, according to Smith’s affidavit following his arrest in mid-September 2021.

Alex's gunshot wounds from the shooting were superficial. He also turned himself in and was charged with insurance fraud following Smith’s arrest, according to PEOPLE.

Alex's lawyer said that his opioid addiction and depression after his wife and son's deaths prompted him to create the scheme, per PEOPLE.

Alex was involved in another crime related to their housekeeper's death.

In addition to Paul and Maggie's deaths, Alex Murdaugh has been connected to other crimes–including another life insurance scheme following the death of the family housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, in 2018.

Gloria died at the Murdaugh family home after allegedly tripping over the family dogs and falling down stairs, the doc explains.

Alex introduced Satterfield’s sons to a lawyer named Cory Fleming to “help them with her case," according to the New York Times. Fleming is reportedly a “close friend” of Alex, which Satterfield’s sons testified to having no knowledge of in a recent lawsuit.

The prosecution also said Alex told Gloria's sons he could admit fault in her death and sue his insurance companies for a large settlement, per ABC. But the sons never saw the settlement money. Alex was arrested in October of 2021 for allegedly misappropriating funds that were supposed to go to the Satterfield family, per CNN. In June of 2022, he agreed to pay the family $4.3 million.

What is Alex Murdaugh's net worth?

There isn't a reported number out there for Alex's total net worth at the moment. While he came from a wealthy southern family, his fraud charges seem to suggest he may have been struggling financially.

Where is Alex Murdaugh now?

Alex Murdaugh was convicted of all four counts for which he was charged—two counts of murder, and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He was given double life sentences for both the murder of his wife and son.

Alex Murdaugh will be held at the South Carolina Department of Corrections during his intake and evaluation process. This may take several weeks—the average time is 45 days, per CNN.

Alex has been in jail since October 2021, according to The New York Times. He was initially arrested on fraud charges related to the Satterfield family's life insurance claim. However, the former lawyer reportedly defrauded clients out of a total of $8.8 million over the years, the NYT reported. The prosecution argued he killed his family members to cover up his other financial crimes.

The trial for the killings of Paul and Margaret Murdaugh began in January 2023 wrapped up in March 2023. Alex maintained his innocence throughout the trial and pleaded not guilty. Before the trial, his lawyers said that he “looks forward to this opportunity to clear his name," per the NYT.

Just before his sentencing, Alex claimed his innocence again. "I'm innocent," he said, per CNN. "I would never hurt my wife Maggie and I would never hurt my son [Paul]."

Judge Clifton Newman does not think Alex Murdaugh will ever confess to the crimes, according to CNN.

You can learn more about the Murdaugh family and Alex's trial in Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal, streaming on Netflix now.

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