Criminal Justice

Once-prominent lawyer Alex Murdaugh is indicted for murders of his wife and son

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Alex Murdaugh at his bond hearing

Alex Murdaugh (center) at his bond hearing in Columbia, South Carolina, on Oct. 19. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine, Pool, File)

Updated: Once-prominent South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh was indicted Thursday for the murders of his wife and younger son.

Murdaugh was charged with two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, CNN reports. Authorities did not release any new details about the case, the New York Times reports.

Murdaugh had called police to report the shooting deaths of his wife, Maggie, and his son Paul in June 2021 at the family’s hunting property. In the year that followed, Murdaugh was accused of stealing settlement money from the family of his late housekeeper, of insurance fraud for attempting to stage his own shooting death, and of stealing millions of dollars from law clients and his law firm.

Murdaugh’s lawyer had previously denied his client’s involvement in the deaths.

Murdaugh’s housekeeper died in February 2018. Murdaugh said the woman had tripped over his dogs and fallen down the stairs.

Murdaugh’s family had been informed in advance about the pending indictment.

FITSNews was the first to report on the expected indictment in a July 12 story. Stories followed in publications that include the State, the Post and Courier, CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times. FITSNews also reported that Murdaugh was disbarred on Tuesday.

The total amount allegedly stolen by Murdaugh is $8.5 million, according to the Post and Courier. He has already been indicted on a total of 71 charges, according to CNN.

“The case had all the trappings of a made-for-TV movie,” the Post and Courier reports. “The Murdaughs symbolized wealth, power and prominence in Hampton County. Three generations of Murdaughs have served as 14th Circuit solicitor, the chief prosecutor for the state’s southern tip. Alex Murdaugh also worked part time for the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. And the family’s powerhouse law firm made a fortune over the years through civil litigation against railroads, multinational companies and other deep-pocket targets.”

Murdaugh is currently being held in the Richland County jail. His bond is $7 million.

Murdaugh did not contest his disbarment, according to the July 12 disbarment order by the South Carolina Supreme Court. He had been suspended since September 2021.

The order noted that Murdaugh “has admitted in various court proceedings and filings that he engaged in financial misconduct involving theft of money from his former law firm; that he solicited his own murder to defraud his life insurance carrier; and that he is liable for the theft of $4,305,000 in settlement funds. …

“Based on his admitted reprehensible misconduct, we hereby disbar respondent Richard Alexander Murdaugh from the practice of law in South Carolina.”

Updated on July 14 to report on the indictment.

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