Ever since Maggie Murdaugh and her son Paul Murdaugh were found murdered at their Colleton County, South Carolina hunting lodge seven weeks ago, FITSNews readers have been asking lots of questions about Paul’s brother Buster Murdaugh.
Speculation about Buster Murdaugh originated with the 2015 Stephen Smith death investigation — with his name being brought up numerous times as investigators with the S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP) sought to make sense of this tragedy. A murder investigation has been recently opened by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in connection with Smith’s death “based on information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.”
The speculation swirling around Buster Murdaugh escalated last week when SLED – the lead agency in the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ case – released a 911 call from Buster and Paul’s father, R. Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh, along with a dispatch report which seemed to suggest that another person (besides Alex Murdaugh) was present at the hunting lodge on the night of the murders.
Take a look….
(Click to view)
As noted, this news outlet has received a flood of inquiries seeking information about Buster’s whereabouts in the aftermath of the double homicide.
We did some digging and discovered that — while no one has been excluded in connection with the Murdaugh Murders — it appears as though Buster Murdaugh was in the Rock Hill-Charlotte area at the time of the slayings, according to our sources.
Buster, 25, was living and working in the Rock Hill-Charlotte area in June, according to FITSNews sources.
This is corroborated by what Randy Murdaugh, Buster’s uncle, told a Good Morning America reporter 10 days after the murders.
Randy Murdaugh said that he had to call Buster, who lives in Rock Hill, to tell him that his brother and mother were killed.
Eva Pilgrim, the ABC News journalist who spoke with the Murdaugh family, also reported that Alex Murdaugh was taking his father to the hospital on the day of the murders.
After that, he reportedly checked in on his mother before returning to the hunting lodge where he allegedly discovered the bodies of his wife and son.
Alex Murdaugh called 911 at 10:07 p.m.
Click below to hear the entire 911 call…
(Click to view)
(Via: FITSNews/ YouTube)
At 10:28 p.m. EDT – just over twenty minutes after the 911 call from Murdaugh was received – SLED was contacted by the Colleton sheriff’s office. At that time, SLED’s “assistance in conducting this double murder investigation” was requested and they soon took over the case due to its complexity and the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office having a conflict of interest in the case.
According to the autopsy report, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh died between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m on June 7, 2021. They were found on the ground near the dog kennels about a quarter of a mile away from the home.
Sources have told FITSNews that Paul Murdaugh was killed by two shotgun blasts – one to the chest and another through the arm and head.
Maggie Murdaugh died of multiple gun shot wounds by a semi-automatic rifle, according to our sources
In the seven weeks since the murders, no arrests have been made and no suspects have been named.
More than two weeks after the murders, a public relations firm hired by the Murdaugh family released a statement announcing a $100,000 reward to anyone providing tips that lead to arrests by law enforcement.
The statement said that Alex and Buster Murdaugh were the ones offering the reward.
“Now is the time to bring justice for Maggie and Paul,” Alex Murdaugh said in a statement. “Buster and I, along with Maggie’s mother, father, and our entire family, ask that anyone with helpful information call the SLED tip hotline (803- 896- 2605).”
Since the reward was been offered, the Murdaugh family has not made any public statements about the murders.
Along with his father, Buster Murdaugh is named in a lawsuit connected to a 2019 boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach. At the time of time of his death, Paul Murdaugh stood accused of three felony boating under the influence charges in connection that crash, but he wasn’t named in the lawsuit.
Although Buster wasn’t involved in the crash, Paul allegedly used his brother’s fake ID to buy booze at a Parker’s convenience store about nine hours before he allegedly crashed his father’s 17-foot center console boat into a piling just outside of Parris Island on Febuary 24, 2019.
Mallory Beach was ejected in that crash and her body was found a week later.
Mallory Beach’s mother Renee Beach — who is being represented by attorney Mark Tinsley — is seeking damages from Parker’s gas station, as well as Alex and Buster Murdaugh. In the lawsuit, Alex is accused of enabling Paul’s underage drinking habits. An hour and a half after the crash, Paul Murdaugh’s BAC was three times over the legal limit and recently released files in that investigation paint him as a violent drunk .
(Click to view)
(Via: Murdaugh Murders/ YouTube)
A hearing in that wrongful death lawsuit was scheduled for June 10 — three days after the murders.
At that hearing, a judge was supposed to rule on a number of motions in the case, including:
- Requiring Alex and Buster Murdaugh to disclose their financial records
- Forcing Parker’s to produce evidence in the case
- Moving the case from Hampton County to Beaufort County, where the crash took place.
That hearing also could have resulted in Paul and Maggie Murdaugh being added to the lawsuit, according to FITSNews sources.
While the Murdaughs have released very little information in the discovery process, they did release some information about their insurance policies last year.
The Murdaughs have a $500,000 insurance policy for their boat, according to court documents accompanying Tinsley’s motion. In addition, they have two other insurance policies with Philadelphia Indemnity that cap out at $6 million.
In a separate lawsuit, Philadelphia Indemnity is suing Richard Alexander (Alex) Murdaugh and Richard Alexander Murdaugh Jr. in federal court. The insurance company filed the suit in 2019 formally denying coverage associated with the boat crash lawsuit.
Court documents state that Philadelphia Indemnity is investigating whether the company has to cover Alex Murdaugh in the lawsuit.
Two other insurance companies – QBE Specialty and Homeowners of America – have denied Alex Murdaugh coverage in the lawsuit.
Double Homicide Investigation
Alex Murdaugh was identified by sources close to the investigation very early on as a “person of interest” in connection with their inquiries, although he reportedly provided police with an “ironclad” alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the killings, FITSNews founding editor Will Folks reported.
Meanwhile, fourteenth circuit solicitor Duffie Stone has still not recused himself and his office from this high-profile investigation — despite having numerous indisputable conflicts of interest in connection with this case. In 2019, Stone cited these conflicts in recusing himself from investigating the boat crash that killed Mallory Beach. In fact, he announced his recusal before Beach’s body had even been recovered.
More concerning, Folks has reported that Stone has consistently attempted to steer investigators away from any theory that might implicate members of the Murdaugh family. Also, in the days following the murders, Stone’s investigators were caught on camera chatting with a Murdaugh family member at the crime scene — which appears to be a hugely controversial breach of prosecutorial ethics and etiquette.
Nearly two months after the murders, Stone has still not given the public a clear explanation as to why he remains involved with the case.
While law enforcement has released little information about its investigation – and has actively sought to plug leaks of information – here is what we know so far:
- Maggie Murdaugh‘s cell phone was found along a rural South Carolina road just outside of the family’s 1,700-acre hunting lodge the day after the murder, according to sources close to the investigation.
- Multiple guns were seized from the property on the night of the murders. However, considering the crime scene was a hunting lodge, this is not surprising, according to our sources.
- On June 16, SLED agents were seen collecting evidence in a swampy area near the Salkehatchie River, approximately two miles south of Moselle.
- Law enforcement impounded a 2021 Chevy Suburban registered to the Murdaugh law firm from the scene.
- Deputies found shell casings at the scene, according to the report.
- SLED agents requested that Colleton Country Sheriff’s deputies search the area near the crime scene for video surveillance systems on the morning after the murders.
Stay tuned to FITSNews for the latest in the investigation…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].
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