HAMPTON, SC – Ask any of the 2,600 residents of this South Carolina city if they know Alex Murdoff, and you’ll probably be quickly approved. Almost everyone does in the Hamptons, a small place where every road has just two lanes.
However, ask them to tell you about Murdoff, and you’ll get a loud nod, followed by: “You’re not going to quote me, are you?” No one wants to talk about the influential lawyer whose wife and son were murdered and who is now embroiled in controversy – at least not in the open.
For the past century, Murdoff has steered the legal world into this remote corner of South Carolina—north of Savannah, Georgia, and far from the Interstate or just about anything else. Running the prosecutor’s office and a large civil law firm allowed Murdoff to do so quietly, until recently.
Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son Paul were murdered on June 7, shot multiple times in the family’s vast estate. No one has been arrested in their deaths, which has engulfed every nook and cranny of Murdoff’s life.
Six investigations are underway into murders, stolen money, concealment of death and the September 4 shootings, in which a bullet hit Murdog’s head on a deserted highway. Police said he tried to make arrangements for his death and ensured that a US$10 million life insurance policy paid for his surviving son.
The man accused of shooting Murdog is Curtis “Eddie” Smith, a former client in a workplace accident case. Smith said they became friends, and that he himself was dismissed by Murdoff’s lawyers as a hardened drug dealer.
“With the kind of friend who needs enemies,” Smith said as he limped around his property in Walterboro, checking out his shop and rescue dogs. He would say no more, insisting that he had been discussed with Murdoff and the matter—for now.
Like many in the city, the Smiths tussle with the Murdoffs in a Hampton County courtroom with a population of 20,000, where the family is accustomed to being in power, not being interrogated.
If you stole or stole something from you, the Murdoffs pursued your case for the state. Alex Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were directly elected prosecutors for 87 years.
If you got hurt at work, Murdoff took you on as a client. The family founded a law firm a century ago. It now employs several dozen lawyers, and its brick headquarters take up an entire city block. There is no sign out in front; Everyone knows this is the firm of the Murdoffs.
And if you had a charity or other cause, Murdoff donated. The family has given lakhs to all kinds of projects. Alex Murdaugh’s father was Grand Marshal of the parade at the city’s marquee Watermelon Festival many years ago.
But many people quietly tell stories about what happened if Murdoff was crossed.
Conor Cook said that in 2019, he knew his friend Paul Murdog was drunk when he steered a boat that crashed, killing a 19-year-old passenger. But Murdoff tried to pin him as the driver, Cook said, according to a wrongful death lawsuit.
In a statement, Cook said he fears the family: “Whatever they go in, they get out. I’ve always been told so.”
On the night of the accident, Alex Murdaugh and his father visited the hospital. Nurses told investigators that Murdaugh scouted a board where staff monitored patients and tried to talk to everyone on the boat.
The accident attracted the kind of attention Murdoff had always tried — and for decades, was successful — to avoid. The local newspaper said it took months for Paul Murdoff to be charged with causing death under the influence of boating. Many around the city wondered if the family was making its big impact.
Paul Murdoff was awaiting trial when he died. Now, state police are investigating whether Murdoff obstructed that investigation. They are also investigating the 2018 death of family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.
She died after falling into Murdoff’s home, but the death was not reported to the coroner. Documents show Murdoff’s insurance paid out more than $4 million in wrongful-death claims. But an attorney for Satterfield’s sons said he hadn’t seen a penny since agreeing to use a lawyer, who was Murdoff’s college friend, to handle the legal work and another banker friend, the estate executor. In form of.
The documents claimed to be signed by the judges, but some were not recorded in publicly searchable court records. Others have not followed state rules for settlements.
Despite being out of the limelight for a long time, Murdaugh is no stranger to his own legal troubles. Alex Murdaugh’s great-grandfather, Randolph, founded the family law firm and became elected prosecutor in 1920 for the five-county area that includes Hampton County. Randolph Murdoff died in 1940 when his car was hit by a train on his way home from a poker game.
His son, Randolph “Buster” Murdoff Jr., took over the law firm and prosecutor; He served for 46 years, with the exception of several months awaiting federal trial to transport a local moonshot to his stable. Eighteen of the 23 defendants were found guilty.
But “Buster” was acquitted and returned to office—even as the judge said that, if he were Murdoff, he “could not go back and face his men to retake public office.” could have done little to begin with,” according to federal records.
“Buster” was larger than life in court, admonished more than once by the state Supreme Court for inappropriate arguments – telling the jury that he would not try another death sentence case or if the verdict was his way. will release the rapists awaiting trial.
Randolph Murdoff III followed his father, taking over in 1986 and serving for nearly 20 years. Neither of his sons followed him to the solicitor’s chair, although Alex Murdog worked as a volunteer prosecutor before his law license was suspended in September because he was denied millions of dollars from the family’s PMPED law firm. More was fired from the disappearance.
In civil law, Murdaugh was known for prosecuting railroads. The now repealed South Carolina law allowed anyone choosing any state’s county to sue the railroad. Murdoff found a sympathetic jury and Hampton County is known for its seven-point decision.
The PMPED firm has dozens of attorneys and practices in all 46 counties of South Carolina. Its website lists 14 cases with prizes worth more than $1 million – railroad companies who didn’t cut vegetation at crossings, a cancer patient hurt by chemotherapy, a 9-year-old burned by the gas tank of an SUV.
Alex Murdoff’s brother, Randolph Murdoff IV, still works at the firm. He did not respond to emails asking about his family.
The law firm issued a statement saying that many of their lawyers grew up in the area and are closely involved in their communities and churches. The firm said that no one they spoke to knew that Alex Murdog was addicted to drugs and that their “plan” involved no employees.
“He lied and he stole from us,” the PMPED statement said.
Alex Murdoff, 53, remains in an out-of-state rehab facility awaiting trial on charges of insurance fraud and filing a false police report.
Through his attorney, Murdoff denied having anything to do with the deaths of 52-year-old wife Maggie and 22-year-old son Paul. When Murdoff found their bodies, he just returned from visiting his ailing father, his brothers saying “Good morning America.”
While people around the Hamptons are careful in speaking out about Murdoff, signs of his influence emerge. An appendix at the top of a wrongful death lawsuit over the housekeeper’s death includes these lines, all in capital letters.
“The plaintiffs are the victims. The plaintiffs are weak. The plaintiffs are afraid.”