HAMPTON, SC – The prominent South Carolina attorney, who was shot dead on her family’s hunting estate months after his wife and son died, allegedly conspired to have him killed by another man to make his other son his 10th birthday -Million dollar life insurance policy paid off. State Police says.
The announcement of charges against another South Carolina man on Monday is the latest twist in the saga of Alex Murdaugh, the Hampton attorney involved in multiple state investigations whose family members had served in the local attorney’s office for generations.
Murdaugh was listed as a co-defendant when the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced charges against Curtis Edward Smith, 61, of aiding and abetting suicide, assault and bodily harm of a highly exacerbated nature, showing and presenting a gun, insurance fraud, and insurance fraud conspiracy.
What we know:Murders, money, and mystery swirl around the prominent South Carolina Murdaugh family
Murdaugh “arranged for this guy to shoot him” in order to obtain insurance payout to his son, Murdaugh attorney Dick Harpootlian told the Today show on Wednesday. He expects Murdaugh to be indicted in the coming days.
South Carolina law enforcement spokesman Tommy Crosby told USA TODAY that he had no additional information about possible charges in the case. A press release announcing the charges against Smith said: “Additional charges in the case are expected and will be disclosed in due course.”
Murdaugh was shot in the head on the side of a country road on September 4 and rushed to hospital with superficial injuries. The news came days before he entered rehab and his law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED) accused him of misappropriating funds. State police said Monday they were looking for the missing money.
Harpootlian told the Today show that Murdaugh was using opioids and trying to get off the drugs when he arranged the shooting. Murdaugh was depressed, “realized that things were going to get very, very, very bad” after taking money from his law firm, but believed that the life insurance payout would not go to his son if he died of suicide, said Harpootlian.
Murdaugh used most of the firm’s money to pay for opioids, his attorney said.
Murdaugh has since admitted giving Smith a gun and telling him to kill Murdaugh in order to have his life insurance policy paid out, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said in affidavits released Monday.
Smith followed Murdaugh to a rural country road, where he shot Murdaugh, police said in an affidavit. Smith drove away and got rid of the gun while Murdaugh survived the shooting, the affidavit reads.
Murdaugh called 911 after being shot in the head and was taken to an area hospital, state and local police said earlier. Harpootlian said Murdaugh was temporarily blinded in the shootings.
State police said in the affidavit that Murdaugh admitted to the program on Monday and that his approximately $ 10 million life insurance policy should go to his surviving son. On Tuesday, Smith also admitted under oath that he would be present and dispose of the firearm.
Smith was also charged with methamphetamine distribution and possession
Marijuana. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Walterboro man had a lawyer.
A Murdaugh spokesman previously said Murdaugh stopped after a tire light came on in his car and he was shot dead by a man who stopped to ask if he had any problems with the car. Harpootlian described the incident as a “fake car breakdown” on Wednesday.
Harpootlian said Murdaugh and his legal team turned to state police with his confession. “He didn’t want law enforcement to spend more time on this fake crime instead of focusing on solving the murders of Maggie and Paul (Murdaugh),” Harpootlian told the Today show.
Alex Murdaugh’s wife Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son Paul were shot multiple times and found dead on June 7th on the family’s hunting estate in Colleton County. Alex Murdaugh called 911 and reported her death, which is still under investigation by state police.
Harpootlian told the Today show that Murdaugh did not kill his wife and son, and that Harpootlian and another lawyer representing Murdaugh were investigating “a person or individuals who we believe may be guilty , could or have done it “.
Harpootlian did not elaborate on who he and his partner were investigating, saying that only the motive was “personal”. Crosby declined to comment from state law enforcement agencies about the information Murdaugh’s attorneys may have provided as part of the ongoing investigation, and said the department had contacted his legal representatives.
Alex Murdaugh and his surviving son Buster had offered a $ 100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or arrest and conviction.
At the time, Paul Murdaugh was charged with a fatal boat crash in 2019. Mallory Beach, 19, from Hampton County, was killed in the crash near Parris Island and several others were injured. Paul Murdaugh faced three charges related to drinking under the influence of boating.
The case remains open, and Beach’s family has also filed a civil suit and other legal action against the Murdaugh family. Harpootlian said he represented Paul Murdaugh on the case.
The deaths of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh also prompted the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to open a homicide investigation into the unexplained death of Stephen Smith, 19, Paul and Maggie Murdaugh. “
Smith died in a traffic accident on a rural road in Hampton County in 2015. However, his mother Sandy told the Hampton County Guardian, part of the USA TODAY Network, in 2015 that she believed her son’s death was the result of a foul and possible hate crime because her son was gay.
The cascading series of events has shed light on the well-known Murdaugh family.
Alex Murdaugh’s great-grandfather, grandfather, and father served as elected prosecutors in the area non-stop for 85 years. Alex Murdaugh also volunteered for the prosecutor’s office and supported his father, who remained a paid contract employee after a new attorney took office.
Before:South Carolina Police are now investigating allegations that Alex Murdaugh took money from the law firm
If you or someone you know may be struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or chat online day or night.
Crisis Text Line offers free, confidential support around the clock via SMS to people in need under the number 741741.
DeWitt reported from Hampton, South Carolina. Miller reported from New York.