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Alex Murdaugh Was Arrested For Planning His Own Killing In An Alleged Insurance Fraud Scheme

Alex Murdaugh, a prominent South Carolina lawyer at the center of multiple investigations, was charged with insurance fraud after police said he planned his own killing for a $10 million insurance payout for his son.

Posted on September 16, 2021, at 1:32 p.m. ET

Hampton County Detention Center

Alex Murdaugh

Alex Murdaugh, a prominent South Carolina lawyer, was arrested Thursday for allegedly planning his own killing so that his son could get an insurance payout, three months after his wife and other son were fatally shot at their home.

Murdaugh, 53, was charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report, according to the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

He turned himself into the Hampton County Detention Center on Thursday morning and is awaiting a bond hearing scheduled for later in the day.

Murdaugh is now at the center of multiple investigations related to his alleged misuse of funds at his law firm, as well as the 2018 death of his housekeeper and the 2015 death of a teenager near the family's property.

Colleton County Sheriff's Office

Curtis Smith

Authorities alleged that Murdaugh conspired with his former client, Curtis Smith, to "assist him in committing suicide" so that Murdaugh's son, Buster, could collect a $10 million insurance payout.

Smith is alleged to have shot Murdaugh in the head with a gun provided by Murdaugh on the side of a rural road on Sept. 4. Murdaugh survived the shooting with a superficial wound and initially lied to authorities, claiming he had been shot by a passerby in a pickup truck.

Smith, 61, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery, and insurance fraud.

Murdaugh's lawyers said that he wanted to "end his life" after being depressed and struggling with an opioid addiction following the killings of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and son, Paul Murdaugh — who was awaiting trial on charges of drunk driving a boat that crashed and killed a 19-year-old woman in 2019.

Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, were fatally shot on the family's hunting lodge in Islandton in June. Authorities have not arrested any suspects in the case, and Murdaugh's lawyers have denied that he had any involvement in their killings.

They claimed that Murdaugh planned his own killing after mistakenly believing that his other son, Buster, would not receive the $10 million policy if he died by suicide.

A day before Murdaugh's shooting, he was pushed out of his law firm after they discovered his alleged misuse of millions of dollars — most of which, his lawyers said, he spent on buying opioids. Authorities are investigating the alleged misuse of funds.


The Murdaughs: Paul Murdaugh (left), Maggie Murdaugh, Alex Murdaugh, and Buster Murdaugh.

In a new twist on Wednesday, SLED also opened a criminal investigation into the death of the Murdaugh family's housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died in 2018 in an alleged "trip and fall accident."

The Hampton County Coroner requested SLED to investigate Satterfield's death after it was not reported to the coroner's office at the time and because her manner of death was listed as natural, which was "inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident."

Authorities have also opened a new inquiry into the unsolved death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith, who was found on a road 10 miles from the Murdaugh home in 2015.

"I can assure you that SLED agents will continue working to bring justice to anyone involved with any criminal act associated with these ongoing investigations," SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a statement on Thursday. "The arrests in this case are only the first step in that process."

The killings, bizarre twists, and multiple investigations in the case have prompted scrutiny into the Murdaughs' powerful legal dynasty in the region. Three generations of the family have served as state prosecutors spanning eight decades.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.