Nine weeks after Paul Murdaugh and his mother Maggie Murdaugh were found murdered in Colleton county, South Carolina, the state’s fourteenth circuit solicitor Duffie Stone quietly recused himself in the investigation, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier reported Wednesday.
Stone referenced developments in the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED)’s investigation into the murders – but did not indicate what those developments may have been.
In an August 11 letter to S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson, Stone asked Wilson to handle prosecution in the case “considering the events of today’s SLED investigation,” but he did not elaborate on his exact reason for stepping away from the case.
Click below to read the letter.
According to a source familiar with the case, Stone’s recusal indicates SLED has narrowed its focus in the double-homicide investigation.
As this news outlet has previously reported, Stone had a long list of conflicts of interest in connection with the Murdaugh family — three generations of whom previously held Stone’s position as solicitor for nearly a century (from 1920-2006).
When Paul Murdaugh was killed, he stood accused of three felony boating of the influence charges in a 2019 boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach. In the 2019 boat crash, Stone recused himself the day after the crash — before Beach’s body was found.
Stone has a long list of conflicts of interest in both cases, including:
- Alex Murdaugh – who has been identified as a person of interest by our sources on this case – has assisted Stone’s office on certain cases and reportedly carries a badge issued by the the solicitor.
- In 2006, Stone took over as solicitor for Paul Murdaugh’s grandfather Randolph Murdaugh III (who died of cancer days after the Murdaugh Murders) with support from the Murdaugh dynasty.
- In 2016, for example, Maggie Murdaugh, Alex Murdaugh, and Randolph Murdaugh all donated a total of $2,500 to Stone’s solicitor campaign, according to financial records.
So why did it take more than two months for Stone to recuse himself in the double homicide investigation?
Two weeks after Maggie and Paul were murdered, Stone issued a muddled statement about why he hasn’t recused himself in the high-profile investigation. Click below to see his full statement.
The statement was issued just days after FITSNews founding editor Will Folks published a shocking report where sources alleged that Stone has consistently attempted to steer investigators away from any theory that might implicate members of the Murdaugh family, according to FITSNews sources.
In the days following the murders, Stone’s investigators were even 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.
There were also reports that Stone and his investigators were running a “shadow investigation” in an effort to hold the statewide law enforcement agency “accountable” for the results of its probe.
In June, Stone justified his unusual involvement in the case by saying there was “no clear suspect” in the case.
So has something changed?
The bodies of both Murdaughs were discovered by Paul’s father and Maggie’s husband R. Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh at around 10:00 p.m. EDT on the evening of June 7, 2021 – as documented by a dramatic 9-1-1 call (click below to listen).
Just a few minutes after the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office arrived on scene, deputies contacted the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). SLED soon took over the case due to its complexity and the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office having a conflict of interest in the case.
FITSNews recently obtained Paul Murdaugh’s death certificate, which confirmed Paul Murdaugh was killed by two shotgun blasts to the head and chest.
(Click to Listen)
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Paul’s death certificate, completed by Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey, said the 22-year-old was cremated.
This news outlet has yet to obtain a death certificate for 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, who was reportedly shot and killed by a semi-automatic rifle at or around the time her son was killed.
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. However, tips must be submitted before September 30, 2021 to qualify for the reward.
Since the reward was offered in late June, the Murdaugh family has not made any public statements about the murders.
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.
No arrests have been made in the double homicide.
It is unclear what took Stone so long to recuse himself in the investigation.
This story will be updated.
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