On Thursday, South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh surrendered to South Carolina authorities after being accused of arranging a suicide-for-hire plot as part of an insurance-fraud scheme. He was also charged with conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report, according to a statement by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. The prominent South Carolina lawyer — whose own wife and son were murdered earlier this year — was shot in the head last week, but the bullet only grazed him.
Curtis Edward Smith, 61, who has admitted to being at the scene of the crime and disposing of a gun, has been arrested and charged with a series of crimes, including assisted suicide and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. On Thursday, a judge set Smith’s bail at $55,000.
At the hearing that followed, Hampton County Magistrate Judge Tonja Alexander set Murdaugh’s bond at $20,000 and ordered him to surrender his passport. Alex Murdaugh apparently paid Smith, a former client, to kill him so that his other son could collect a $10 million insurance payment, according to authorities.
If all this weren’t enough, investigators said they are reinvestigating the 2018 case of Murdaugh’s housekeeper — which is on top of a different investigation into a 2015 death near the Murdaugh property.
Gloria Satterfield, Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper, died after an alleged trip-and-fall accident in the home of the Murdaughs, where she was viewed as part of the family, reports the Daily Beast. In a letter to law-enforcement authorities, Hampton County coroner Angela Topper requested that the state open an investigation into Satterfield’s death: “The decedent’s death was not reported to the Coroner at that time, nor was an autopsy performed,” she wrote. “On the death certificate, the manner of death was ruled ‘Natural,’ which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident. In light of these inconsistencies noted above, I feel that it is prudent to pursue an investigation into Gloria Satterfield’s death.” The announcement of the reinvestigation comes just hours after Satterfield’s sons filed a lawsuit against several individuals, including Murdaugh, saying they “have not received the first dollar” of a $500,000 wrongful-death settlement.
Eric Bland, the lawyer representing the Satterfield family, told CNN regarding the Murdaugh situation, “They have lied to them, they have taken money from them, they have misled them.”
Dick Harpootlian, another eminent South Carolinian lawyer who is representing Murdaugh, told the Today show that Murdaugh has been deeply depressed over the previous killings of his family members and had developed an opioid addiction. The day before Smith shot him, Murdaugh resigned from his law firm amid accusations that he had embezzled millions of dollars in funds, much of which Harpootlian said went to his drug habit.
“That Saturday morning, he was trying to get off the opioids; he was not taking any of them, was in a massive depression, realized things were going to get really, really bad and decided to end his life,” Harpootlian said.
Murdaugh apparently wrongly believed that if he killed himself, his son would not receive any insurance money.
Murdaugh, who is descended from legal royalty in South Carolina’s Low Country, found his wife and son shot dead at his home in June. The case remains unsolved, and questions have swirled. At the time his son Paul was killed, Paul was out on bail after having been charged two years earlier in a drunken boat crash that left one of his passengers dead. Additionally, police this summer reopened another case from 2015, in which a man was found dead on a road near the Murdaugh’s property, though they have not specified a clear connection between that crime and the Murdaugh family.