Alex Murdaugh is pictured in his mugshot after being charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report. His gunshot wound to the head is not visible in the photo
Alex Murdaugh wept as his attorney described his fall from grace and ‘ruinous’ financial state following the murder of his wife and son and a 20-year-opioid addiction at his bond hearing Thursday afternoon.
Murdaugh shuffled into the courtroom in Hampton County Detention Center shortly after 4pm today – he wore prison scrubs and was shackled hand and foot.
He cast his eyes down and his mouth worked constantly and nervously behind his mask as he sat before the judge.
He sat beside his attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin while his sister, Lynn Goettee sat taking notes in a seat directly behind.
Murdaugh, 53, was appearing on three charges insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false report.
Bond was set at $10,000 for the insurance fraud and $5,000 each for conspiracy and filing a false police report totally $20,000 – a fraction of the $55,000 bond set for his alleged co-conspirator Curtis Eddie Smith, who also faced more serious firearm and assault charges.
Speaking for his client, Dick Harpootlian pointed to his client’s previous ‘blemishless character ‘and appealed to the judge’s sympathies saying: ‘He has fallen from grace. But before any of this falling happened his wife and son were brutally murdered and that has had an extraordinary effect on him.
‘We ask you to allow him to go and heal himself. His financial situation is ruinous.’
He continued: ‘This is a 20-year-addition. Something he’s struggled with for years.’
In a moment of drama, Harpootlian appeared to play to the press who crowded the courtroom as he gestured to his gaunt client and ‘if anyone wants to see the fact of what opioid addiction does, you’re looking at it.’
Harpootlian went onto claim that the June 7 murder of Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, 52, and younger son, Paul, 22, ‘put him over the edge.’
Alex Murdaugh was led into the courtroom at Hampton County Detention Center Thursday afternoon wearing prison garb and with his hands cuffed in front of him
There was no obvious sign of the gunshot wound to the head he suffered during the shooting which he is accused of planning to get his son a $10 million insurance windfall
Alex Murdaugh was granted $20,000 bail to return to rehab immediately after his attorney revealed he is broke and has been addicted to opioids for 20 years
Murdaugh remained masked throughout the proceedings and the wound on which Harpootlian had earlier insisted he had sustained was conspicuously absent.
In fact his appearance seemed to bear out South Carolina Law Enforcement’s categorization of his injury as ‘superficial.’
A small swirl in his hair at the back of his head was the only trace of any injury despite Harpootlian once again claiming that there had been ‘an entry and exist wound’ and ‘maybe’ a fractured skull and minor brain bleed as a result of the roadside shooting that Murdaugh has now admitted to orchestrating September 4.
Craig Waters for the Attorney General’s office asked for Murdaugh to surrender his passport which sat before him on the table and waive extradition which he did as he is attending an out of state rehab center.
Waters also asked for a bond of $100,000 and for Murdaugh to wear a GPS tracker stating, ‘Sometimes those who have everything and then suffer a potential fall from grace are actually more cause for concern than a hardened criminal.’
But Judge Tanji Alexander was not persuaded by this, granting a much lower bond and declining to insist on Murdaugh wearing an ankle monitor.
Alex Murdaugh leaving his bond hearing at the Hampton County Jail in Varnville,SC. (Christopher Oquendo for DailyMail.com)
Alex Murdaugh leaving his bond hearing at the Hampton County Jail after bail was set at $20,000
She did warn, however, that should he leave the rehab facility to which he immediately returned he would be in breach of bond and subject to imprisonment.
Speaking outside the courtroom Harpootlian told reporters outside that Smith was Murdaugh’s drug dealer and that they had met ‘many years ago’ when Murdaugh represented him in a legal case.
The attorney doubled down on his insistence that there were no troubles within Murdaugh’s marriage.
He said: ‘Absolutely none and I was with them for two years, I represented Paul and saw them dozens of times, a bunch, always affectionate, always courteous, always the picture of domestic bliss.’
He said that the couple spoke ‘five or six times a day.’
Asked by DailyMail.com if he was any closer to naming a suspect in the murders Harpootlian barked, ‘No!’ but insisted that he and Griffin were continuing to work on their own investigation.
In a moment of drama his attorney Dick Harpootlian appeared to play to the press who crowded the courtroom as he gestured to his gaunt client and ‘if anyone wants to see the fact of what opioid addiction does, you’re looking at it’
Murdaugh’s feet are seen shackled at his bond hearing where he was released on bail on the condition he returns to rehab
Murdaugh, 53, was appearing on three charges insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false report
Asked how Murdaugh’s surviving son Buster was doing Harpootlian said he was ‘holding up.’
He added that the potential beneficiary of Murdaugh’s $10million life insurance policy had the sham shooting gone to plan was ‘a trooper.’
Murdaugh was filmed being driven to Hampton County jail in a pewter-colored SUV accompanied by a police escort Thursday morning after he agreed to surrender to authorities.
He emerged from the vehicle sporting bright red sneakers, gray trousers and a light-colored shirt.
He was booked at the Hampton County Detention Center ahead of the bond hearing that afternoon.
The legal scion, whose family has ruled the county’s justice system for almost a century, now finds himself on the other side of the criminal justice system after investigators made the shocking allegation Tuesday that he orchestrated his own shooting with alleged accomplice Curtis Edward Smith earlier this month.
Murdaugh is accused of paying the hitman to shoot him in the head and kill him so that his surviving son Buster could collect a $10 million life insurance payment.
The claim came after a catastrophic few months where his other son and wife were murdered and he was exposed for allegedly embezzling millions from his law firm to pay for his drug addiction.
Alex Murdaugh arrived at Hampton County jail Thursday morning to surrender to police on charges of paying a hitman to kill him as part of a botched insurance fraud scheme. He is seen exiting the car in red shoes
The high-powered South Carolina attorney, 53, was filmed being driven to the jail in a pewter-colored SUV accompanied by a police escort. He emerged from the vehicle sporting bright red sneakers, gray trousers and a light-colored shirt
Paul and Maggie (together left) were shot dead on June 7. Now police say that Alex Murdaugh (center) orchestrated a separate shooting to kill himself with the help of a hitman, in a scheme to deliver a $10 million life insurance payout to his other son Buster (right) as the elder Murdaugh faced investigation over misallocated funds
Murdaugh was shot in the head along a remote road in Hampton County on September 4 and was airlifted to hospital where he survived after suffering only superficial injuries.
At the time, Murdaugh claimed he had been the victim of a drive-by shooting as he changed a tire by the side of the road.
He checked himself into rehab days later for opioid addiction and resigned from his law firm as it emerged he was being investigated for allegedly misappropriating millions of dollars of funds.
But, his story about the shooting soon fell apart, and police said he confessed Monday to arranging the hit.
Murdaugh’s alleged accomplice in the case Curtis Edward Smith then admitted Tuesday to being present at the shooting and disposing of the firearm, police said.
Smith appeared for his bond hearing Thursday morning at Hampton County Detention Center where his bail was set at $55,000.
Smith, a former client of the attorney and his purported drug dealer, was charged on multiple counts including assisted suicide and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
This marks just the latest twist in the Murdaugh family saga, which gained national attention when Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and son Paul were shot dead at the family’s hunting lodge on June 7.
Three months on, their deaths still remain a mystery with no arrests made and no suspects or persons of interest named.
Questions have swirled that the motive could be tied to one of three mysterious past deaths connected to the Murdaugh family – two of which police have opened investigations into.
Murdaugh shooting suspect Curtis Edward Smith, 61, is seen at his bond hearing Thursday morning at Hampton County Detention Center where his bail was set at $55,000
Smith appeared disheveled and disoriented in a beige prison jumpsuit as the judge broke down each of his charges
Smith snarled at photographers as he was escorted to Hampton County jail Thursday. He is accused of shooting Murdaugh and disposing of the gun as part of the plot
Family murders, deaths, drug addictions, thefts and arrests: The riddles facing investigators who’ve now charged Alex Murdaugh
Cops investigating the double murder have also reopened the case into a 2015 hit-and-run of teen Stephen Smith
Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Sattlerfield dies
Mallory Beach, 19, died in February 2019
2015: Teenager Stephen Smith dies
Smith was found on the side of the road.
Police officially rule his death a hit-and-run but he had suffered blunt force trauma to the head
His mother has since shared her belief that she thinks he was killed in a hate-crime because he was gay
Case notes obtained by DailyMail.com revealed Paul’s older brother Buster was named multiple times in the investigation.
Police wanted to know more about his relationship with Stephen
Stephen’s mother said he had been having a ‘fling’.
In a deposition years later, one of Paul’s friends said the family had ‘covered’ other killings up.
He mentioned Smith’s death.
2018: Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield dies
Gloria died after ‘falling’ down the stairs in the family house
The family gave her family $500.000 in a wrongful death settlement but it’s unclear why her death was ruled to be their fault.
Alex Murdaugh was listed as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Satterfield was only 57 when she died.
She left behind a husband and children.
Her death was also mentioned in the deposition by Paul Murdaugh’s friend.
2019: Mallory Beach dies being thrown from boat driven by Paul Murdaugh
Paul was charged afterwards because he’d been drinking and was behaving ‘belligerently’ that night.
He had been released on bond.
Other kids were on the boat but were unharmed.
One testified that they were scared to speak about the Murdaugh family because they knew how to ‘cover things up’.
That boy named Stephen Smith and the housekeeper, and claimed Paul pushed her
June 7 2021: Paul and Maggie are murdered
The mom and son were found shot dead at the family home in Hampton, South Carolina.
Alex Murdaugh says he found them at the home.
The medical examiner said the pair had been dead for an hour at most when he discovered them.
Alex’s son Paul, 22, (left) and wife Maggie, 52, (right) were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds on June 7 at the family hunting lodge
Alex’s father Randolph Murdaugh III died ‘peacefully’ at home three days after Maggie and Paul were found shot dead
June 10 2021: Alex’s 81-year-old father Randolph Murdaugh III dies ‘naturally’ and ‘peacefully’ at home
September 3: Alex resigns from his law firm amid claims he misused funds
The firm has hired a forensic investigator to go through the accounts
September 4: Alex calls 911 claiming he’s been shot in the head in a drive-by.
He only had ‘surface’ wounds and was also able to call his brother
September 6: Alex releases a statement confirming his resignation from the firm and announcing he has entered rehab
Says ‘I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated these murders.’
On Wednesday, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) launched a criminal investigation into the 2018 ‘trip-and-fall’ death of the family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield and the subsequent handling of her estate.
Satterfield, 57, had been the Murdaugh housekeeper and nanny for around 25 years when she suffered a fatal brain injury following a mystery fall inside the Murdaugh family home. She died several weeks later on February 26, 2018.
SLED said that hit had opened a criminal investigation inter Satterfield’s death based on a request from the Hampton County Coroner, as well as ‘information gathered during the course of our other ongoing investigations involving Alex Murdaugh.’
Murdaugh settled a wrongful death claim with the housekeepers family for $500,000 in 2018.
However, Satterfield’s family sued Murdaugh, Wednesday claiming he had not paid out ‘one single dime’ of the settlement.
Meanwhile, at the time of his murder, Paul was awaiting trial for the 2019 death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, who was killed as a passenger in a boat he crashed while allegedly heavily intoxicated.
Police have also investigated the family for possible ties to the 2015 death of gay teen Stephen Smith, which was ruled a hit-and-run, though no suspects have ever been named or charged.
SLED has also reopened the investigation into Smith’s death in the wake of Paul and Maggie’s murders.
SLED confirmed in a press release Thursday morning Murdaugh had been arrested and charged ‘in connection to the shooting incident on Sept. 4 in which he conspired with Curtis Edward Smith to assist him in committing suicide for the explicit purpose of allowing a beneficiary to collect life insurance.’
SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a statement ‘that SLED agents will continue working to bring justice to anyone involved with any criminal act associated with these ongoing investigations’ calling the arrests ‘only the first step in that process.’
The case will be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office.
According to police, Murdaugh paid Smith to shoot him in the head and kill him, making it look like a random, drive-by attach.
His goal was for his surviving son Buster to receive a $10million life insurance payout, according to police.
Murdaugh provided Smith with a gun to carry out the September 4 shooting, SLED said. But Smith botched the shooting and Murdaugh survived.
Following the incident, Smith allegedly drove to an unknown location and disposed of the gun.
Smith, 61, from Walterboro, South Carolina, is a former client of Murdaugh, who represented him in minor traffic matters as well as a 2015 lawsuit that Smith filed against a forest management company.
He was arrested Tuesday and charged on multiple counts including conspiracy and assisted suicide for his role in the shooting.
He appeared disheveled and disoriented when he appeared for his bond hearing at Hampton County Detention Center, at 9am Thursday.
The judge broke down each of Smith’s charges and set bail accordingly: on the charge of pointing a firearm at a person bond was set at $5,000; on the insurance and misrepresentation $10,000; on conspiracy, $5,000; on assisting a person committing suicide, $15,000 and on assault and battery bond was $20,000.
Smith signed his paperwork and said that he expected his bail bondsman to pay the $55,000 later this morning.
He had rocked to and fro in his seat throughout the hearing and as he made to leave muttered: ‘This is bogus. It’s all bogus.’
Asked by the judge if he had anything else to say he remained silent.
Smith had been boasting about his alleged involvement in the crime when out and about in Walterboro last week, a long-time acquaintance exclusively told DailyMail.com.
According to Henry Vandermark, who has known the man he described as ‘straight-dealing’ and ‘friendly’ for more than a decade, Smith was blasé when he told him that cops had visited his Walterboro home last week and informed him that he was a suspect in the bizarre roadside shooting.
Instead, Smith had reportedly boasted that cops ‘wouldn’t find anything’ when they searched his home and appeared untroubled about being a suspect in the shooting.
He said: ‘He told me, ‘the police have been round and told me I’m a suspect [in the shooting] and wanted to search my house.’
‘I said, ‘Go ahead, you won’t find anything.’
Vandermark said Smith didn’t seem at all worried or concerned about the development. He said: ‘It didn’t seem to bother him at all.’
Despite Smith’s admission, Vandermark said that he ‘couldn’t believe it’ when he saw that his long-time acquaintance had been arrested Tuesday.
In fact, investigators had been closing in on him even though attorneys for Murdaugh were still publicly peddling the tale of a random roadside ambush and offering more ‘facts’ given by their client in a bid to shore up his story.
Murdaugh is said to have called 911 from the side of Old Salkehatchie Road shortly after 1pm on Saturday, September 4.
By the time law enforcement arrived, he was already being transported to hospital in Savannah suffering from what South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has consistently described as a ‘superficial’ gunshot wound to the head.
Murdaugh was arrested and charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report (the arrest warrants are above) and was booked at the Hampton County Detention Center
Attorneys for Murdaugh have insisted that his injuries were far more serious, with lawyer Jim Griffin claiming that his client had ‘an entry and exit wound…fractured skull and minor brain bleed.’
Multiple casings were found on the scene near the Mercedes SUV being driven by Murdaugh that day and once owned by his wife, Maggie.
Last week Griffin stated that Murdaugh had told him that somebody in a blue truck had passed by and turned back as he tried to fix a flat tire by the side of the road.
On circling back, Murdaugh stated, the person rolled down their window and asked if he was having car trouble before opening fire.
Griffin also claimed that Murdaugh had worked with a SLED sketch artist to provide a sketch of the suspect, whom he did not admit to knowing, but the image was never released because investigators were not satisfied with it.
Pictured: Curtis Edward Smith’s home. According to neighbors, Smith, from Walterboro, seemed unbothered after learning he was a suspect in the case when cops visited his home last week
On Wednesday neighbors near Smith’s home in Walterboro, South Carolina told DailyMail.com that as Griffin made his claims members of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) were ‘crawling all over the place.’
Smith, 61, was arrested and charged on Tuesday on multiple counts including assisted suicide and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud in connection with Alex Murdaugh’s shooting
One who asked not to be named recalled: ‘There were cars all round there and members of SLED crawling all over the place last week.’
In fact, SLED executed multiple search warrants on Smith’s home on September 7, just three days after Murdaugh reported the roadside shooting.
And one day after Murdaugh, who has been accused of embezzling millions from his family law firm, issued a public statement in which he admitted to opioid addiction and said he was entering rehab.
One of Smith’s neighbors said: ‘It’s a total shock to wake up to a text saying, ‘Have you heard about your neighbor…?’ and then to learn this.
‘I had no idea he was into drugs and that sort of thing. I know he took something for his back which bothered him a long time, but I’d never have imagined he’d be involved in anything like this.’
Another told DailyMail.com that Smith was known by all as ‘Fast Eddie’ and was often seen driving around his large corner property on a golf buggy or hosting cookouts.
One visibly upset family member, who asked not to be named but confirmed that she was a relative, would say only that Smith’s arrest ‘was a massive shock.’
Murdaugh was slapped with multiple charges over the alleged botched scheme to hire a hitman to kill him for insurance money
Murdaugh is seen with his wife and son Paul, who were shot dead at the family hunting lodge on June 7. It was later revealed the elder Murdaugh faced investigation over misallocated funds from his law firm
Fighting back tears she described Smith as ‘a sweet guy, a real sweet guy.’
Another neighbor said that, for the most part, Smith kept to himself and took pride in the vegetable garden he had planted at the back of his property.
Multiple cars, including a Mercedes convertible, and four jet skis were parked up by the spacious clapboard property that Smith once shared with his late mother, Emaline Murdaugh Smith.
Smith and Murdaugh are distant relatives though the men are understood to have first met when Murdaugh represented Smith in a minor traffic offense in 2013.
Murdaugh only changed his story on Monday when he was visited by his attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Griffin at an out of state rehab center.
According to Harpootlian, it was the first time either of them had spoken to their client when he was not high on opioids, that he knew that what he had done was wrong and that he was in a ‘dark, dark place’ when he hatched the bizarre plot.
Murdaugh gave a statement to SLED admitting to the scheme, September 13.
According to Harpootlian he did not want to distract detectives investigating the murders of Maggie and Paul with the staged incident.
Smith was arrested Tuesday on charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud
The SLED executed multiple search warrants on Smith’s home on September 7, just three days after Murdaugh reported the roadside shooting, Pictured: SLED’s arrest warrant against Smith