The sons of former Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield — who died suspiciously in 2018 following an alleged “trip and fall” incident at a home owned by the family — say they have received no money from the $500,000 settlement they reached with Alex Murdaugh three years ago, according to the sons’ attorney.
The allegation of non-payment is the latest bombshell in the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ saga — a made-for-Hollywood story which has spun wildly off the the rails since 53-year-old Alex Murdaugh was suspiciously shot in Hampton County over the Labor Day weekend.
At the time of this shooting, Murdaugh remained a person of interest in the June 7, 2021 murders of his wife and son — 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh. In the aftermath of the shooting, the investigation into his family and law firm has expanded significantly.
Eric Bland, an attorney representing Satterfield’s sons Brian Harriott and Tony Satterfield, told FITSNews he sent a notice of representation to attorney Cory Fleming last week to get “truth and answers” for his clients.
Fleming — a long-time friend of Alex Murdaugh — represented Satterfield’s family in the 2018 death settlement.
“We’re not saying that anything has been done wrong,” Bland told FITSNews. “We just need answers for these two boys — one of them who has special needs — and the answers should be very clear.”
In the notice, Bland asked Fleming several questions that he says should have been answered immediately. He also demanded records to answer the following questions:
- How were the attorney fees paid?
- How was distribution of the settlement funds paid?
- Why did the case settle for this amount?
Bland has yet to receive a response from Fleming, he told FITSNews on Tuesday.
“I will not stop until these kids get every answer that they’re entitled to and every dollar that they should have gotten … as a result of their mother’s death,” Bland said.
In 2018, Murdaugh’s insurance provider paid $500,000 for personal liability in the wrongful death and $5,000 for medical payments stemming from the incident, according to court documents.
Brian Harriott and Tony Satterfield were the only beneficiaries listed in the settlement. Chad Westendorf, who works at Palmetto State Bank, was named as the personal representative of the estate.
Fleming’s law firm – where Alex Murdaugh previously worked — received $177,500 of the total sum from Murdaugh’s insurance company, according to the settlement.
However, FITSNews sources said the actual payouts related to Satterfield’s death may have been much larger — in the millions.
“The settlement amount may have been hidden from them — the real amount,” an attorney close to settlement told FITSNews.SATTERFIELD
S.C. circuit court judge Perry Buckner — who recused himself from the 2019 boat crash case because of his ties to the Murdaugh family — approved the settlement in December 2018.
Bland said the family was told Satterfield tripped on the steps at the Murdaugh’s former home on Holly Street in Hampton, S.C. They were told the Murdaugh’s dogs caused her to trip – causing a fall which resulted in her sustaining a traumatic brain injury.
It is not known if any member of the Murdaugh family called 911 after the incident – nor is it clear how Satterfield was transported to the hospital, where she stayed for several weeks. Satterfield died on February 26, 2018.
Bland told FITNews Satterfield was the Murdaugh’s housekeeper and nanny for around twenty-five years.
“With that amount of time, you become part of the family,” Bland said. “She helped raise their children. And it would seem to me that Mr. (Alex) Murdaugh would want her and her children to be done right.”
Satterfield’s obituary noted that she loved Alex, Maggie, Randolph, and Libby Murdaugh “as family.”
However, the Murdaughs — who were known to be a very wealthy and prominent family — did not pay for Gloria Satterfield’s funeral.
“That tells me a lot about them as a family when you’re talking about a woman who helped raise their children,” Bland said.
Kim Brant, a former Hampton resident who knew Satterfield, said Gloria was a kind woman and a hard worker who struggled financially while working for the Murdaughs.
“The stories of her struggles were endless,” Brant said of Satterfield.
Brant told FITSNews she was homeless a couple times while as the housekeeper for the Murdaugh family — who owned multiple homes.
“She was homeless a couple times. She, her spouse and child lived in the local motel for a time. Bless her heart, but she was always short on funds.”
The settlement in Gloria Satterfield’s death does not offer much in the way of detail. It does not say how she died, where she died, or why the Murdaugh’s insurance was held liable in the case.
Bland said he simply wants answers for Satterfield’s family.
“Those answers should be forthcoming,” Bland said. “They should be clear, they should be convincing. And they shouldn’t have any type of ambiguity attached to them. They should have dates, monetary amounts, and backed up by documents.”
Bland — who works for Bland Ricter LLP, a law firm that specializes in attorney malpractice — said he hopes that he finds no wrongdoing in the Satterfield case.
“Maybe the story will be that there is no story, that they did the right thing and the money is just in a trust somewhere,” he said. “It would warm my heart as a lawyer to find out that lawyers have done what they’re supposed to do…. all we want is answers for Gloria’s sons. She died an untimely death and they have a right to be taken care of.”
A source who was close to the Murdaugh family told FITSNews that the family called Gloria “GoGo” and Paul loved her “because she was another mother figure to him.”
Cory Fleming has ties to at least three death investigations that are also connected to the Murdaugh family.
During the 2015 investigation of the death of Stephen Smith — a 19-year-old Hampton, S.C. native who was friends with Alex Murdaugh’s sons — Fleming represented a man named Patrick Wilson who was facing three counts of attempted murder in a separate 2015 shooting. According to investigators’ notes in the Smith case, Wilson told his stepfather that his friend killed Stephen by swiping him with the side view mirror of a vehicle, a theory posited by the coroner but which was not supported by evidence.
When Wilson’s stepfather told police this story, he said “he was passing this information on was because Randy Murdaugh told him to call,” according to the investigation file (more on that story here).
At the time, Buster Murdaugh, Paul’s brother, was on detectives’ “radar” in the Stephen Smith investigation. To be clear, Buster was never named a suspect in the case.
Wilson’s attempted murder charges were later dropped by the S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor’s office — where Fleming previously worked.
Alex Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-great grandfather all served as solicitors of the 14th circuit from 1920-2006. Alex Murdaugh also served as a volunteer solicitor — until last week, that is, when he was suspended from practicing law due to misconduct.
Fleming was also previously involved in a 2019 boat crash case involving the Murdaughs as an attorney for Connor Cook — a passenger on the boat who was initially identified by law enforcement as one of two suspects possibly driving the watercraft when it crashed into a bridge in Beaufort county.
Cook’s new attorneys recently filed documents alleging that law enforcement officers conspired to shift the focus of the investigation away from Paul Murdaugh prior to him being ultimately charged with three felonies in connection with the crash.
Also interesting? Moss, Kuhn and Fleming – Fleming’s law firm, temporarily took its website down on Monday around the time news broke the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) had opened an investigation into Alex Murdaugh based on allegations that he misappropriated funds as an attorney at Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED).
Alex Murdaugh’s Unraveling
Soon after the September 4 shooting, multiple law enforcement sources told FITSNews that the story Alex Murdaugh was telling about the shooting was “very suspicious.”
Family attorney Jim Griffin pushed out a narrative about the shooting which had several holes, including:
- Griffin told reporters that Alex was airlifted to MUSC in Charleston, but he was actually flown to a hospital in Savannah.
- Griffin told reporters that Alex was changing a tire on the side of the road, but the Mercedes-Benz SUV had run-flat tires.
- Griffin told reporters that Alex was on his way to Charleston from Moselle, but the road he was on is out of the way from the direct route.
Two days after he was shot, a family spokesperson released a statement saying that Alex Murdaugh was going into rehab and resigning from the law firm built by his family PMPED.
The timing of the statement was interesting considering FITSNews published astory about Murdaugh’s opioid addiction and issues at his law firm just an hour before the statement was released.
Later, officials the firm claimed Murdaugh had been “pushed out” after misappropriating millions of dollars and resigned on Friday, September 3, 2021.
Adding more mystery to this strange saga, sources told FITSNews the knife used to slash Alex Murdaugh’s tires was recovered by investigators — and somehow linked to Alex Murdaugh.
Last week, sources told FITSNews founding editor Will Folks that Murdaugh’s unraveling could have much larger implications in the Lowcountry.
“If Alex Murdaugh and his family goes down, there’s a lot of people – maybe a whole system – going down with them,” one Hampton native told FITSNews. “There’s nobody who didn’t want to be on the Murdaughs’ payroll.”
Stick to FITSNews for the latest developments in this case.
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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