South Carolina attorney resigns and enters rehab after being shot in the head months after deaths of his wife and son
(CNN)The law firm of prominent South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh released a statement claiming he resigned from the firm prior to his shooting on Saturday, for what it says was a misappropriation of funds.
Murdaugh said he was shot Saturday, about three months after he discovered the bodies of his wife and son shot dead outside the family’s home.
The firm of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED) said Murdaugh resigned Friday.
“His resignation came after the discovery by PMPED that Alex misappropriated funds in violation of PMPED standards and policies,” the firm’s statement read. “A forensic accounting firm will be retained to conduct a thorough investigation. Law enforcement and the (South Carolina) Bar have been notified.”
CNN has reached out to Murdaugh’s attorney for comment and has not heard back.
Murdaugh said Monday he planned to resignand begin an unspecified rehabilitation treatment, according to a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WCSC.
The statement released through attorney Dick Harpootlian said: “The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret. I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated by these murders. I am immensely sorry to everyone I’ve hurt including my family, friends and colleagues. I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself and my relationships.”
CNN has attempted to reach Harpootlian for comment.
Murdaugh called 911 and reported being shot Saturday on a road in Hampton County, South Carolina, according to a statement from South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) spokesperson Tommy Crosby.
Murdaugh was taken to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia, where he was treated for a “superficial gunshot wound to the head,” and no arrests had been made, the SLED statement said.
CNN affiliates WCSC and WCIV reported Jim Griffin, Murdaugh’s attorney, said he was told by family members Murdaugh was changing a tire when he was shot. Griffin told WCIV a vehicle had passed Murdaugh and turned around when someone shot him.
A family spokesperson said in a statement the family expects Murdaugh to recover and asked for privacy, saying, “The Murdaugh family has suffered through more than any one family could ever imagine,” a likely reference to the killings of Murdaugh’s wife and 22-year-old son.
Shooting deaths of wife and son remain unsolved
According to SLED, Murdaugh called 911 on June 7 and said he had arrived home to find his wife, Margaret, and son Paul shot dead outside of their home in Islandton, a small community about an hour north of Hilton Head Island. Colleton County Sheriff’s deputies determined both had suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
SLED took over the investigation, but the case remains unsolved. Alex Murdaugh announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the parties responsible for their deaths.
“I urge the public to be patient and let the investigation take its course,” SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a statement in June. “This case is complex, and we will not rush this or any investigation.”
The family has been prominent in the South Carolina legal community for decades: Over 87 consecutive years, three generations of Murdaughs — including Alex’s father, Randolph Murdaugh III — held the office of Solicitor of the 14th Circuit, which covers Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.
According to the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, the current solicitor is the first outside the Murdaugh family to hold the elected position.
Alex’s brothers Randy and John Marvin addressed the perception of the family prominence in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” in June.
“You see words like ‘dynasty’ used and ‘power,’ and I don’t know exactly how people use those words,” said Randy Murdaugh. “But we’re just regular people, and we’re hurting just like they would be hurting if this had happened to them.”
“I can’t imagine the horror that my brother’s experiencing,” he said.
CNN’s Caroline Kenny, Gregory Lemos, Rebekah Riess and Kay Jones contributed to this report.
Proof That Real Life Is Way Creepier Than Fiction: The Murdaugh Family Murders
The Murdaugh family of South Carolina is having a bad year. The powerful “old money” family suffered a tragic loss in June when Maggie Murdaugh (52) and her son Paul Murdaugh (22) were found by Alex Muraugh (53) dead on the grounds of the family’s 1700 acre vacation home with multiple gunshot wounds each. Those murders remain unsolved with no suspects. The months before and after the double homicide were bookended by other Murdaugh family drama and tragedy that would be unbelievable if presented as fiction.
On September 3, 2021, family patriarch Richard “Alex” Alexander Murdaugh (53) was confronted by his employer about a million dollars they believe Murdaugh “misappropriated”. His employer was a law firm called Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick that was actually established by his grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh Sr. The law firm has now notified local police and the South Carolina Bar Association. Alex Murdaugh gave his resignation.
Three shootings in one summer, two of them fatal, is insane for any family. But the Murdaugh’s aren’t just any family, and the deaths don’t stop there. Back in 2019, the now deceased Paul Murdaugh was charged with the death of Mallory Beach and two other felonies after he drunkenly drove a Murdaugh family boat into a bridge pile. You can see footage of the six people who were on the Murdaugh boat and some details of the grisly crash here:
Paul’s first call after the boat crash was to his grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh III, a local politician and lawyer. This grandfather was also a partner at Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick, the law firm Alex Murdaugh is accused of stealing money from. Randolph Murdaugh died of natural causes in June, three days after his grandson (Paul Murdaugh) and daughter-in-law (Maggie Murdaugh) were murdered. In 2018, Randolph Murdaugh was awarded the highest honor the South Carolina government can bestow on a civilian, the Order of the Palmetto, given to citizens of the state who have dedicated their lives to “extraordinary service”. In the Murdaugh family Randolph Sr., Randolph Jr., and Randolph III served a combined total of 86 years as Solicitor of the 14th Judicial Circuit. There is currently a Randolph Murdaugh 4 and 5.
The dashcam footage of first responders catches Mallory Beach’s boyfriend, Anthony Cook, screaming at police that Paul was driving the boat, saying “That motherf—– needs to rot in f—ing prison…He ain’t gonna get in no f—ing trouble.”
And then, to Paul Murdaugh: “You f—ing smiling like it’s f—ing funny? My f—ing girlfriend’s gone!”
Anthony may have been referencing the death of Stephen Smith, a South Carolina teen who was found dead in 2015 after his car ran out of gas, possibly as a result of a hit and run. Police say that while investigating Maggie and Paul’s murder, they found information that may connect the deaths to Stephen Smith’s. Unfortunately they didn’t give any details, but there are reports that since 2015 rumors existed that the Murdaugh family was involved in Smith’s death, but powerful enough to not be charged. Stephen Smith’s family believes the openly gay nursing student may have been the victim of a hate crime.
A local lawyer who spoke to People and asked to remain anonymous described the family as “above the law”, saying “They have a lot of influence and power, and they’ll use it against their enemies.” Connor Cook, who was injured in the boat crash alleges that local police “conspired to shift the focus of the investigation away from Paul Murdaugh” by saying that Connor, not Paul, was driving the boat. Cook also says some evidence related to the boat crash, like Paul’s phone, has disappeared in police custody. Three officers involved in the investigation admitted they had some preexisting link to the Murdaugh family. One of the officers, Michael Brock, had spent time at one of the Murdaugh vacation home several times and his wife was employed by the Murdaugh’s law firm. That officer was told by Anthony Cook that Paul Murdaugh was driving the boat but instead wrote in his report that Anthony “flipped out” with no mention of his statement that Paul was driving. The tape of Anthony’s statement was “lost”.
Other boaters testified that Paul Murdaugh appeared visibly intoxicated and was physically and verbally abusing his girlfriend during the boat ride, spitting in her face and slapping her.
Bizarrely, there is only one remaining member of Alex Murdaugh’s immediate family who has not been gunned down this year. Alex and Maggie’s son Richard “Buster” Murdaugh (26) is the only family member who has not been shot. Investigations into all of these crimes are ongoing.
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Murdaugh murders: S.C. attorney accused of stealing from law firm in wake of family tragedy
HAMPTON, S.C. — A prominent South Carolina attorney who was shot in the head — months after his wife and son were gunned down at the family’s hunting lodge — is now accused by the family’s law firm of misappropriating funds.
Alex Murdaugh, 53, of Hampton, was shot in the head Saturday as he allegedly attempted to change a tire on a rural Hampton County road. Murdaugh, who suffered a minor wound, announced Monday that he had resigned from his job and was entering rehab.
Murdaugh said the June murders of his wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, 52, and their younger son, Paul Murdaugh, 22, have “caused an incredibly difficult time in (his) life.”
“I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret,” Murdaugh said in the statement, which was obtained by WCBD in Charleston. “I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated by these murders.
“I am immensely sorry to everyone I’ve hurt, including my family, friends and colleagues. I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself and my relationships.”
“Alex resigned after being accused of diverting lawyer fees from the firm,” Griffin said. “These allegations prompted him to confront a dependency and he voluntarily checked into an in-patient substance abuse rehab facility after being discharged from the hospital today.”
The weekend shooting and Murdaugh’s resignation are the latest twists in a roller coaster of a case involving one of South Carolina’s most prominent legal families.
The double homicide in June called attention to Paul Murdaugh, who was killed as he awaited trial in a high-profile 2019 boating crash that killed his cousin’s girlfriend, 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
According to authorities, Murdaugh was intoxicated when he smashed his family’s boat into the pilings of a bridge, ejecting several of his passengers.
Beach’s body was recovered a week after the crash.
Details about Beach’s death and the case against Paul Murdaugh have been made public since Murdaugh was slain. Records indicate that the impact was so violent, one witness said the craft “came apart at the seams.” Click here to watch several videos on the case produced by the Island Packet in Hilton Head.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigators have also opened an investigation into the cold case of Stephen Smith, who was found dead on a Hampton County road in 2015. Smith, 19, of Brunson, reportedly died of blunt force trauma, and authorities suspected a hit-and-run crash.
Smith’s mother believes he may have been the victim of foul play, The Associated Press reported. Sandy Smith has told multiple news outlets over the years that she believes her son was beaten to death.
She has also said she believes Paul Murdaugh could have been involved.
State police officials said information gathered during the Murdaugh homicide investigation led to the fresh look at Smith’s case, WCSC reported in June. Authorities did not say how, or even if, the two cases are otherwise connected.
The Island Packet reported that Smith graduated in 2014 from Wade Hampton High School with Paul Murdaugh’s older brother, Richard “Buster” Murdaugh.
Police last month officially debunked rumors that multiple vehicles, including one involved in Smith’s death, had been found buried on the Murdaugh property, according to Bluffton Today.
Authorities have also been tight-lipped about both the double homicide and Alex Murdaugh’s weekend shooting, during which Murdaugh suffered a “superficial gunshot wound to the head,” reported The State newspaper in Columbia.
Murdaugh’s lawyer, Jim Griffin, told the paper that his client was on his way to Charleston around 1:30 p.m. Saturday when his Mercedes-Benz SUV got a flat tire a few miles from the family’s property. Murdaugh had pulled over and gotten out of the vehicle along Salkehatchie Road when the driver of a passing truck turned back and pulled up near Murdaugh.
HAPPENING NOW: SLED is investigating a shooting in Hampton County. A family friend of the Murdaugh’s says Alex #Murdaugh was shot in the head while changing a tire. We’re told Alex was taken to MUSC. He is conscious and speaking. pic.twitter.com/h3bhIKNnq2
Murdaugh was the person who found his wife and son dead the night of June 7. According to police, Murdaugh called 911 at 10:07 p.m. to report that he’d returned to his family’s hunting lodge, Moselle, in Islandton and found their bodies.
A frantic Murdaugh could be heard sobbing on the 911 call, the audio of which has been released by police. He reported finding their bodies near the dog kennels on the property and described the scene as “bad.”
Multiple times, the dispatcher asked if the slain mother and son were breathing.
“No, nobody’s breathing,” Murdaugh responded.
As deputies began responding to the scene, the dispatcher continued trying to get details out of Murdaugh.
“OK, did you hear anything? Or did you come home and find them?” she asked him.
“No ma’am, I’ve been gone,” Murdaugh responded, beginning to sob. “I just came back.”
“Okay and was anyone else supposed to be at your house?” Fraser asked.
According to a statement from Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED), Alex Murdaugh resigned Friday, a day before he was shot. Law enforcement, as well as the South Carolina Bar, have been informed of the allegations, WCBD reported.
A forensic accounting firm will also be hired to investigate the missing funds, PMPED told the news station.
“This is disappointing news for all of us. Rest assured that our firm will deal with this in a straightforward manner,” the PMPED statement read. “There’s no place in our firm for such behavior.
“Due to the ongoing investigations into these matters and client confidentiality, PMPED cannot comment further at this time.”
The website for PMPED, which was founded more than 100 years ago by Murdaugh’s great-grandfather, went dark on Monday following Murdaugh’s resignation announcement. Several Murdaughs still work for the firm, including Buster Murdaugh.
The Murdaughs have been a legal powerhouse in South Carolina for generations. Along with his personal injury work, Alex Murdaugh served part-time as a prosecutor for the 14th Judicial Circuit.
His great-grandfather Randolph Murdaugh Sr., who founded the family law firm, was elected solicitor for the 14th Judicial Circuit in 1920.
When Randolph Murdaugh Sr. died in a train collision in 1940, his son, Randolph Murdaugh Jr., was elected to take his place. Randolph Murdaugh III, who is Alex Murdaugh’s father, took office upon his father’s retirement in 1987.
In a tragic twist, Randolph Murdaugh III, 81, died June 10, three days after the killings of his grandson and daughter-in-law. The AP reported that the longtime prosecutor, who served as solicitor until 2005, died following a lengthy illness unrelated to the murder case.
The prominence of the Murdaugh family — along with the pending case in Beach’s death — has brought closer scrutiny than usual to the slayings in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. The brutality of Paul Murdaugh’s killing, specifically, has given rise to speculation that he was the target of the attack.
Full Timeline: Murdaugh Family Investigations 2015 – 2021
Posted: / Updated:
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Alex Murdaugh, the patriarch of a prominent South Carolina family, recently stepped down from his law firm after allegedly misappropriating a significant sum of money. That announcement came just hours after Murdaugh was shot in the head while changing a tire on the side of a rural Hampton County Road. Murdaugh also announced that he would be checking himself into rehab, but did not specify for what.
The whirlwind weekend for Murdaugh comes just months after his wife Margaret and son Paul were found shot to death at their family property on June 7.
“I need the police and an ambulance immediately,” Alex Murdaugh can be heard saying in 9-1-1 calls released earlier this summer. “My wife and child have been shot badly.”
As bad of a year as 2021 was for the Murdaugh family, their troubles started far earlier.
News 2 is breaking down the most significant known elements of the investigation into the Murdaugh family, which has held judicial power over the 14th circuit for decades.
On February 26th, 2018, the Murdaugh’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, died after she allegedly tripped and fell at the Hampton, S.C. home of the Murdaughs. Alex Murdaugh reportedly settled with the Satterfield family for $500,000.
On September 3rd, 2021, Alex Murdaugh resigned from the family law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick (PMPED). The firm said that his resignation came after it was discovered he had misappropriated funds.
The law firm says they have hired a forensic accountant to do a thorough investigation of the law firm’s money to identify how much money is missing and where it could be.
On September 4th, 2021, Alex Murdaugh called 9-1-1 reporting he had been shot in the head while changing a tire on a rural Hampton County road.
Two days later, Alex Murdaugh released a statement announcing his resignation and plans to go to rehab. He apologized for past mistakes, which he said were exacerbated by the deaths of his wife and son.
A full breakdown of events from the Murdaugh investigations can be found below.