Arrest warrants have been issued for the influential South Carolina attorney at the heart of the unspooling ‘Murdaugh Murders’ true crime saga – with his impending surrender scheduled for sometime Thursday (September 16, 2021) in Hampton county, according to his attorneys.
“Tomorrow will be the first step in the pursuit of justice for many victims in the Lowcountry,” a source familiar with the multiple investigations involving Murdaugh and his associates told me late Wednesday.
The first of many steps, it would appear, judging by the depth and complexity of the criminal web currently unraveling around this attorney, his prominent family and the powerful law firm it founded …
DON’T MISS A STORY …
Yesterday, this news outlet exclusively reported on Murdaugh’s status as a co-defendant in a bizarre September 4, 2021 shooting incident on a rural roadside in Hampton county – part of a five-county region where he and his cronies have exerted unrivaled influence over regional “justice” for decades.
The roadside shooting is one of several crimes currently being probed by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
According to SLED – which is leading at least six criminal investigations into Murdaugh and his intimates – the 53-year-old lawyer has admitted to participating in a plot to stage his murder, ostensibly so his son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy.
Murdaugh’s alleged co-conspirator in that plot – 61-year-old Curtis Edward “Eddie” Smith – has also admitted to participating in the plot, SLED says. Smith – who was arrested yesterday – is facing multiple charges in connection with the shooting as well as a pair of apparently unrelated drug charges. Sources close to the Murdaugh family have described Smith as Alex Murdaugh’s “personal drug dealer.”
News of Smith’s arrest was also exclusively reported by this news outlet on Tuesday evening.
As I noted yesterday, “the warrants for Smith’s arrest clearly implicated Alex Murdaugh in illegal activity – which would suggest charges against him are imminent.”
That hammer will fall tomorrow, although as of this writing it is not immediately clear which charges Murdaugh will face in connection with the roadside shooting. According to a report from WCBD TV-2 (NBC – Charleston, S.C.), Murdaugh attorney Jim Griffin said his client was being sought on one count of “conspiracy to commit insurance fraud” in relation to that incident.
Griffin has been notoriously unreliable in terms of the information he has provided to members of the media on Murdaugh’s behalf, however.
Also unclear? How long it will be before Murdaugh – and perhaps others – could face charges in connection with the other investigations currently enveloping this erstwhile Lowcountry institution.
Here are brief recap of those probes …
The highest-profile investigation, this criminal probe seeks to identify the individual(s) responsible for the June 7, 2021 murders of 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh. Alex Murdaugh claimed to have discovered the bodies of his wife and youngest son on the family’s 1,700-acre “Moselle” hunting property on the Salkehatchie river (on the border of Colleton and Hampton counties). SLED is leading the investigation into the slayings, and the S.C. attorney general’s office will prosecute in the event charges are filed. No arrests have been made in connection with the case and no suspects have been identified – although Alex Murdaugh was identified very early on in the investigation as a ‘person of interest‘ in connection with the investigation.
(Via: S.C. Department of Natural Resources)
This investigation seeks to determine whether Alex Murdaugh and other members of his family attempted to obstruct justice in the aftermath of a 2019 boat crash involving Paul Murdaugh. While inebriated, Paul Murdaugh allegedly slammed his father’s 17-foot center console fishing boat into the piling of a Beaufort county, S.C. bridge in the early morning hours of February 24, 2019. That crash claimed the life of 19-year-old Mallory Beach of Hampton, S.C. and injured several others. SLED is leading this investigation, and the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson will prosecute in the event any charges are filed. The boat crash obstruction probe is currently before a statewide grand jury in Columbia, S.C.
Launched on Monday, this inquiry purports to determine whether Alex Murdaugh “misappropriated funds in connection to his position as a former lawyer” at the prestigious Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED) law firm. In the aftermath of the roadside shooting on September 4, PMPED hastily accused Murdaugh of absconding with more than $10 million from the firm’s coffers. Of interest? PMPED never requested that SLED conduct this investigation – the agency launched it on its own. Sources familiar with the nascent probe have told me it could soon metastasize into a much broader graft and corruption inquiry – one impacting numerous law firms, financial institutions and public officials. As with the previous three investigations, Wilson’s office would handle any charges related to this probe.
Stephen Smith was a 19-year-old young man from Hampton, S.C. whose brutal 2015 murder was initially misclassified as a “vehicular hit and run.” On June 22, 2021, SLED officially opened a homicide investigation based on new evidence pointing to the possible involvement of members of the Murdaugh family in his death. As with the previous three inquiries, Wilson’s office would likely handle any prosecutions in the event charges are filed.
As news director Mandy Matney exclusively reported earlier today, SLED has officially opened a criminal investigation into the suspicious 2018 death of Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield — who died of a “traumatic brain injury” following a purported “trip-and -fall” incident while working at the Murdaugh’s home in Hampton, S.C. According to SLED, the investigation into Satterfield’s death was opened “based upon a request from the Hampton County coroner …as well as information gathered during the course of our other ongoing investigations involving Alex Murdaugh.”
“As with all cases, SLED is committed to conducting a professional, thorough, and impartial criminal investigation, no matter where the facts lead us,” the agency’s chief, Mark Keel, said in a statement issued earlier this week.
As I noted at the time, Keel’s promise was a bold one considering where some of these probes could potentially lead – and considering some of the powerful people who could conceivably be implicated during the course of these investigations.
Asked this week whether the chief was committed to seeing justice done “though the heavens fall,” a source close to the law enforcement leader affirmed that “no stone will be left unturned.”
As for Alex Murdaugh, his attorney told me Wednesday that the man at the center of the storm was “fully cooperating” with SLED.
“We totally opened up and gave them everything they wanted,” Harpootlian told me. “Bank records – everything.”
I could not independently confirm Harpootlian’s claim with my network of law enforcement and prosecutorial sources, however if his assertion is accurate it could certainly have a significant impact on the course of the investigation into the PMPED law firm.
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 St. Louis Cardinals’ bird lid pictured above).
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our stories? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your own letter to the editor (or guest column) via-email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.
GET SOUTH CAROLINA’S LATEST NEWS IN YOUR INBOX …