Alex Murdaugh, the South Carolina lawyer whose wife and son's mysterious killings in June have spurred a dizzying saga that has dominated national news, was arrested on Thursday and charged in connection with a separate matter.
Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED, took Murdaugh, 53, into custody upon his release from a drug rehabilitation facility in Orlando and charged him with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.
The charges stem from allegations Murdaugh misappropriated settlement funds intended for the sons of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died in 2018 after a fall in Murdaugh's home.
"Today is merely one more step in a long process for justice for the many victims in these investigations," SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a statement, adding his thanks to his agents for pursuing the case over four months.
"They will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of those who were victimized by Alex Murdaugh and others," Keel said. "As I have said previously, we are committed to following the facts wherever they may lead us and we will not stop until justice is served.”
Satterfield's death is one of three in recent years that have drawn scrutiny from investigators and the media following the June killings of Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and Paul Murdaugh, 22.
The housekeeper's death was listed as "natural" on her death certificate, when the manner should have been "accidental," according to a coroner.
Satterfield's sons said Murdaugh steered them to use a lawyer — Cory Fleming, who was, unbeknownst to them, one of his longtime friends — so they could sue his insurer for compensation.
A settlement of $500,000 was eventually reached, but the sons said they never received any money. They later learned of an additional $4.3 million settlement of which they had never been made aware.
Instead, Fleming sent the money to Murdaugh, according to documents their new attorney filed in court.
Fleming has said that Murdaugh led him to believe the money would get to Satterfield's sons. Earlier this month, he agreed to pay back all his legal fees to the sons, and that the insurer would pay out their full policy limit. Fleming's law license was suspended last week.
Murdaugh was arrested in September and charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report after he allegedly orchestrated his own botched killing so that his surviving son, Buster, would receive a $10 million insurance payout.
He allegedly hired a former client, Curtis Smith, to shoot him on a rural road on Sept. 4, but then survived and told police he'd been shot by a passerby.
Smith, 61, was arrested and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery, and insurance fraud.
Murdaugh has denied any involvement in his wife and son's deaths, insisting he turned himself in over the insurance fraud so investigators could concentrate on their killings instead.
He subsequently checked into rehab for an oxycodone addiction — something his lawyers say caused him to steal vast sums of money from his family's law firm and which led to his firing in September, as well as his law license being suspended.
In addition to Satterfield, investigators are probing the Murdaugh family's connections to the 2015 death of Buster's classmate, Stephen Smith, who was found dead on a highway but with little evidence to suggest he had been hit by a car.
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was facing charges in connection with the 2019 death of Mallory Beach, a friend of his who had died when he was allegedly boating at night under the influence of alcohol.
An attorney for Alex Murdaugh did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Murdaugh is now being held at the Orange County Corrections facility in Florida, awaiting an extradition hearing back to South Carolina.