Live updates Friday: History of shocking SC murders; Paul Murdaugh’s apartment searched

·5 min read
From left: Alex Murdaugh, his wife Maggie Murdaugh, and their sons Paul Murdaugh and Alex “Buster” Murdaugh Jr.

A state grand jury, under the authority of the S.C. Attorney General, is investigating whether there was obstruction of justice in the aftermath of the 2019 boat crash that implicated Paul Murdaugh and killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach, according to sources with knowledge of the case.

Meanwhile, the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, which recused itself from the boat crash investigation because of its ties to the Murdaugh family, has not said it would do the same for the investigation into the June 7 murders of Paul Murdaugh and his mother, Maggie.

On Friday, the Solicitor’s Office released a letter to The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette saying Alex Murdaugh, Paul’s father and Maggie’s husband, was an authorized volunteer for the office and was not paid for his work.

Other updates in the murder investigation: Police obtained a warrant and searched Paul Murdaugh’s apartment in Columbia, sources told The State newspaper.

Paul Murdaugh, 22, and his mother Maggie, 52, were shot to death on June 7 outside on their Colleton County estate. Alex Murdaugh called 911 at 10:07 p.m. to report that he had discovered the bodies.

Anyone with information can call SLED’s tip line for this case at 803-896-2605.

‘Dark side of the state’s cultural DNA’

Friday, 2:19 p.m.: The killings of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, part of one of South Carolina’s most prominent legal families, have sparked vast interest and more questions than can be answered.

The monied family law firm, the family’s history of 85 years as prosecutors, and the unresolved 2019 boat crash: They all play a part in why so many people want to understand this family tragedy.

Killings like this in the Palmetto State have happened before. They originate “from the dark side of the state’s cultural DNA” and “occur without warning among rich and poor, Black and white, in high society and low,” according to reporter John Monk with The State newspaper.

Brad Willis, a 47-year-old former reporter in Greenville and author of popular podcast “Murder, Etc.,” said that true crime like this fascinates people because they can’t understand it.

Tragedy should not be entertainment, but “people want to know the truth, want to know the answers and why something happened. We don’t understand how such violence exists, and we seek out answers of how things came to be. That’s why true crime is so compelling to people,” he said.

-John Monk, Jake Shore

Paul Murdaugh’s USC apartment searched

Friday, 11:38 a.m.: S.C. Law Enforcement Division investigators searched a Columbia apartment near the University of South Carolina where the slain Paul Murdaugh was living during the university’s spring semester.

The search was carried out this week after SLED obtained a search warrant from a state judge.

“They carried off at least one computer and likely took fingerprints and DNA samples,” said one person familiar with the search.

On June 8, the day after Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were found shot to death near Colleton County, a property manager at the Columbia apartment complex notified Columbia police about an open door in one of the units.

Although Columbia police did not say specifically that the open door belonged to Paul Murdaugh, sources told The State that the unit was in fact Murdaugh’s.

- John Monk

Grand jury probe of boat crash obstruction

Friday, 9:44 a.m.: The S.C. Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation into how police handled the 2019 boat crash that led to charges against Paul Murdaugh for boating under the influence, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

A state grand jury, operating under the authority of the state attorney general, is specifically looking into obstruction of justice in that case, according to another source familiar with the situation.

A state grand jury has jurisdiction over multiple counties and has subpoena power.

The boat crash is under renewed scrutiny following the killings last week.

Sources confirmed that the Attorney General’s office is again investigating the crash, though Attorney General spokesperson Robert Kittle said he could not “confirm or deny the existence of any investigation ever.”

- John Monk, Jake Shore

Alex Murdaugh ‘authorized’ as volunteer for Solicitor’s Office

Friday, 9:01 a.m.: Alex Murdaugh, a Hampton lawyer who told police he discovered the bodies of his wife and son, was “authorized as a volunteer” for the 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office, according to a letter obtained by The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette newspapers.

Almost two weeks after the killings of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, Duffie Stone, 14th Circuit Solicitor, is still refusing to say what role his office is playing in the investigation. The Solicitor’s Office’s spokesperson did not return another call Friday.

Alex Murdaugh, according to the letter, assisted his father, former Solicitor Randolph Murdaugh III, “in some cases.” He is not an employee of the office and has never been paid, according to the letter.

Murdaugh’s attorney profile describes him as “a part-time Prosecutor for the 14th Judicial Circuit.”

- Kacen Bayless, Jake Shore

Alex Murdaugh, Mallory Beach’s family submit DNA

Friday, 8:17 a.m.: Alex Murdaugh, Mallory Beach’s family and all occupants of the Sea Hunt boat that crashed near Parris Island in 2019 “voluntarily” submitted DNA samples to investigators, according to an interview on Good Morning America.

“[Alex] was willing, and still is willing, to do anything that’s asked of him,” said John Marvin Murdaugh, Alex’s brother. “He wants this solved.”

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In a pre-recorded interview with Good Morning America’s Eva Pilgrim, broadcast Thursday morning, Alex Murdaugh’s two brothers said they hope police will find out who killed Paul and Maggie.

“My brother loved Maggie and loved Paul like nothing else on this earth,” said Randolph “Randy” Murdaugh IV. “It’s hard to imagine somebody could be so sick as to do this, intentionally kill people like that. We see it in the world, we see it in the news, but you don’t think it’s going to happen in your small community, to your family.”

- Kacen Bayless

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