Alex Murdaugh, the prominent South Carolina lawyer who was shot in the head last week — and whose own wife and son were murdered earlier this year — paid a former client to kill him so that his other son could collect a $10 million insurance payment, according to authorities. But the former client only grazed Murdaugh in the head with a bullet. If that weren’t enough, investigators said they are reopening the case into two deaths near Murdaugh’s property, including his late housekeeper.
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. Murdaugh is also expected to be charged, though it’s not clear with what, and his attorney said he plans to surrender to authorities on Thursday ahead of a court hearing.
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 reopened another case from 2015, in which a man was found dead on a road near the Murdaughs’ property, though they have not specified a clear connection between that crime and the Murdaugh family.