Multiple law enforcement sources have confirmed to this news outlet that 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh of Hampton, South Carolina was among the victims of a double homicide that took place late Monday on a property owned by his family in rural Colleton county, South Carolina.
Murdaugh’s mother, Maggie Murdaugh, was also killed in the incident, which is being investigated by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) after a referral from local law enforcement agencies.
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh stood accused of multiple felony charges in connection with a tragic February 2019 boating accident that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach. Murdaugh had pleaded not guilty to those charges, and was awaiting his day in court.
According to my sources, both Murdaugh and his mother died after sustaining “multiple gunshot wounds” – although at this point I have no information that would lend credence to any of the theories spreading across the state regarding these high-profile murders.
Typically, news outlets wait to publish the identity of victims until their names are released by the county coroner’s office following notification of their next-of-kin. In this case, however, the two bodies were reportedly discovered by R. Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh – the husband of Maggie Murdaugh and the father of Paul Murdaugh.
Also, shortly after my news outlet broke the news of the slayings – reporters affiliated with several South Carolina-based McClatchy newspapers quoted their own anonymous law enforcement sources as saying “the deceased are related to the Murdaugh family.”
These outlets have since identified Paul and Maggie Murdaugh as the victims.
The Murdaughs’ bodies were discovered on Monday evening at a hunting lodge owned by the family. The property – known as Moselle – is located at 4157 Moselle Road in Islandton, S.C., an unincorporated community located just north of Varnville, South Carolina.
The 1,700-acre plot of land is owned by Maggie Murdaugh and straddles the border of Colleton and Hampton counties – adjacent to the Salkehatchie River. It includes a pair of single family homes and a dog barn.
According to my sources, Alex Murdaugh discovered the bodies outside of one of these homes at around 10:00 p.m. EDT on Monday evening.
As noted in my initial coverage of this incident, the Murdaughs are one of the wealthiest, most powerful families in the South Carolina Lowcountry. A Murdaugh served as solicitor of the S.C. fourteenth judicial circuit for nearly a century – from 1920-2006. In addition to these powerful public positions, the family has been a part of the influential Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED) law firm in Hampton county for more than 100 years.
The Murdaughs were thrust back in the limelight in the aftermath of the boat crash – which occurred near Parris Island, S.C. in the early evening hours of February 23, 2019.
My news outlet submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Colleton county sheriff’s office early Tuesday morning for all information related to the investigation – including any 9-1-1 calls. County officials could not immediately provide any information, though, referring all inquiries to SLED.
“At this time, we are not able to release any information due to this being an ongoing investigation,” Colleton county sheriff spokeswoman Angela Stallings told me. “South Carolina Law Enforcement has taken the lead over this investigation.”
As of this writing, SLED has only confirmed that it is “leading an investigation into a double homicide that took place in Colleton county last night.”
The agency has yet to provide any information regarding the victims, suspect(s), weapons or a narrative of what happened.
According to Shalane Lowes of the Colleton county sheriff’s office, “at this time, there is no danger to the public.”
“If information is received that dictates otherwise, we will immediately notify the public,” Lowes added.
(Click to view)
(Via: Colleton County Sheriff’s Office)
Not surprisingly, there is a barrage of speculation as to what may have precipitated this violence – which my law enforcement sources tell me was “clearly premeditated” and involved “multiple firearms.” Some have claimed the killings were an example of vigilantism – or “backwoods justice” as one of my sources put it – tied to the 2019 boat crash. Others have claimed there was a dispute between a family member and a worker on the farm prior to the shootings.
Numerous other theories abound … but as of this writing I have heard nothing concrete from my law enforcement sources which would lend credence to any of them.
Family members recoiled at the speculation.
“If you are going to report this case please only speak of those who have been killed,” Mary Elizabeth Murdaugh, a relative of the deceased, tweeted. “It is not respectful to discuss the family or any reputation. They have passed away do not bring up any piece of negativity in the past. Give us a moment please.”
Meanwhile, a statement was posted to the PMPED Facebook page on behalf of the Murdaugh family.
“The Murdaugh family and PMPED wish to thank everyone for the many calls and condolences in the aftermath of the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh,” the statement noted. “We ask for your continued patience and prayers through this tragic time.”
The statement also asked anyone with “information that may be important” to contact law enforcement.
For additional coverage of this story, click here …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that lime green Daytona Tortugas’ batting practice lid pictured above).
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