The Mercedes-Benz GLS sport utility vehicle driven by prominent South Carolina attorney R. Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh on Saturday – the day he sustained a “superficial” gunshot wound to the head while purportedly changing a tire on the side of a rural Hampton county road – was equipped with run-flat tires, sources familiar with the situation have confirmed to this news outlet.
These tires – also known as “extended mobility tires” – allow a vehicle to travel approximately fifty miles with little to no tire pressure due to the presence of a reinforced sidewall.
Speculation regarding the run-flat tires on Murdaugh’s vehicle has run rampant on social media – which greeted the official narrative of the shooting provided by his attorney Jim Griffin with decided skepticism.
According to Griffin – a prominent Palmetto State defense lawyer – his client stopped on the side of the road after experiencing “car trouble” while traveling to Charleston, S.C.
“Alex was changing a tire when a car passed him,” WCIV TV 4 (ABC – Charleston, S.C.) reported on Saturday, quoting Griffin. “The vehicle turned around and someone in the car shot him.”
Most Mercedes SUVs equipped with run-flat tires do not include spare tires – which would mean there would have been no reason for Murdaugh to pull over to the side of the road to try and change a flat tire.
“There’s no way he was changing the tire or had any intent to,” one source tracking the issue told me.
Also, the incident occurred approximately seven miles from Murdaugh’s home in Islandton, S.C., meaning he would have had ample time to return to his home – or find a nearby service station.
As I noted in my coverage of this saga yesterday, law enforcement investigators were reportedly “very suspicious” of the narrative provided by Murdaugh’s attorney. In fact, his version of events was reportedly facing “withering investigative scrutiny.”
“This is not going to hold up,” one source said, referring to the narrative advanced by Murdaugh and his attorney.
According to my sources, the tires were one of the very first things to alert investigators to potential holes in Murdaugh’s story.
Tommy Crosby is a spokesman for the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – the agency which is leading the inquiry into the shooting (and several related criminal cases involving Alex Murdaugh and his influential family). Reached for comment on Tuesday, Crosby declined to discuss the tires – or any other aspect of the ongoing investigation into the shooting.
“It’s an open investigation,” Crosby told me. “It would be inappropriate to comment.”
So far, all SLED has said about the crime scene is that “a black Mercedes-Benz SUV driven by Alex Murdaugh was initially processed and ultimately towed from the scene to a law enforcement impound lot for further evaluation.”
After the shooting, Murdaugh was airlifted to Parker’s Emergency and Trauma Center Savannah, Georgia for treatment of his “superficial” wound. As of this writing, there is no word on any ballistic evidence obtained in connection with his wound – or from the roadside crime scene.
No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting, nor has SLED released a description of any suspect(s) or suspect vehicle(s).
Skepticism of Murdaugh’s story increased exponentially on Monday after this news outlet exclusively reported that the 53-year-old attorney was battling an opioid addiction and was said to have been “increasingly estranged from colleagues at his law firm.”
(Click to view)
Murdaugh (above) had reportedly been “less than forthcoming” with his law partners about any number of issues including the rumored opioid addiction, I reported yesterday.
About an hour after that report was published, Murdaugh issued a statement through a family spokesperson announcing that he was entering rehab and resigning from Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED), the powerful firm where he worked for years alongside his brother and his late father, former South Carolina fourteenth circuit solicitor Randolph Murdaugh III.
Hours after that report was published, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs of The New York Times reported that Murdaugh “was pushed out of his powerful law firm over claims that he had misused funds.” According to Bogel-Burroughs, PMPED lawyers “discovered that Murdaugh had misappropriated money from the law office and that he had resigned on Friday.”
How much money was taken? According to my sources, the total could eclipse eight figures.
“There are millions missing,” a source close to the firm told me.
Wait a minute, though … how did the law firm not realize until last week that such a massive amount of cash had been stolen from its accounts?
That is one of many unanswered questions confounding reporters seeking to get to the bottom of a host of Murdaugh-related dramas …
To recap: The Murdaughs are one of the most influential families in South Carolina – especially in the Lowcountry region of the state. Three generations of Murdaughs served as solicitor (or district attorney) for a five-county region from 1920-2007, amassing tremendous influence over politicians, judges and local law enforcement officers.
The family was thrust into the limelight two-and-a-half years ago when Paul Murdaugh – Alex’s younger son – allegedly got drunk and slammed his father’s 17-foot, center console Sea Hunt fishing boat into a piling near the Archer’s Creek Bridge outside of Parris Island, S.C. shortly after 2:00 a.m. EDT on February 23, 2019.
The crash killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach of Hampton county, South Carolina and injured several other passengers.
In the aftermath of this incident, Paul Murdaugh was charged by the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson with one count of boating under the influence resulting in death and two counts of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury.
In addition to the criminal case against Paul Murdaugh, his father and brother – Buster Murdaugh – were among the defendants named in a wrongful death suit filed by Beach’s family. Alex Murdaugh is also reportedly among the members of his family currently staring down a statewide grand jury investigation into alleged obstruction of justice in the aftermath of the boat crash.
The Murdaugh saga attracted international attention three months ago when Paul Murdaugh and his mother – 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh – were brutally murdered at Moselle, a 1,700-acre hunting property the family owns that is located near Islandton, S.C.
“Paul Murdaugh was reportedly killed by a pair of shotgun blasts – one to the chest and another which struck his arm and head,” I reported at the time, citing my network of law enforcement and prosecutorial sources.
This information was later confirmed by health officials as the cause of Paul Murdaugh’s death.
As this news outlet exclusively reported 48 hours after the shootings, Alex Murdaugh was identified by both law enforcement and prosecutorial sources as a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation – even though he ostensibly provided investigators with an “ironclad alibi” for his whereabouts at the time of the killings.
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 “full wool” vintage Philadelphia Phillies’ lid pictured above).
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