The buzz around Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal on Netflix is real. The new series is a three-part documentary on the OTT platform. It was released last year without much promotion, even as the double-murder trial of Richard ‘Alex’ Murdaugh continues in Walterboro, South Carolina.
The docu-series has been directed by Julia Willoughby Nason and Jenner Furst. It dives into the rise and fall of the prominent and controversial legal family. Alex has a lineage of legal professionals dating back to the early 20th century. But, he and his associates have long been the target of criminal investigations and activities.
So, what are the Murdaugh murders all about? Here are the details.
Who are the Murdaughs?
The Murdaugh family has a long-standing legal dynasty in South Carolina. Their family firm became renowned for handling personal injury cases. In no time, they became a high-ranking and distinguished legal group in the country. The lineage eventually landed in the lap of Richard Alexander or Alex Murdaugh.
Alex is a University of South Carolina graduate. While he was doing college, he met his future wife Margaret, or Maggie Branstetter. The two later engaged in a love affair and got married in 1993. The couple welcomed two sons – Buster and Paul and completed their family.
Owing to their status and fame, the family lived luxuriously. They owned a beach house, a couple of private islands, and a wide-stretching piece of land, which they called Moselle.
Despite the wealth and success, the Murdaughs would not escape their fair share of trouble and speculation. Both the father and his sons showed up wild behavior over the years. They also engaged in drugs and alcohol and were accused of addiction. Alex went on to face several allegations, including financial crimes such as insurance scams and embezzlement.
The greatest trouble for the family took place in 2019.
What Happened After the Party?
A life-turning incident occurred on the 24th of February, which changed the trajectory of the Murdaughs and many people around them.
Paul, along with his friends, was heading back from a party. They were on a family boat, going back to the family estate. As per witnesses, despite being intoxicated, Paul insisted on driving the boat himself. He captained the boat erratically and at dangerous speeds and crashed it into the Archers Creek Bridge. As a result, multiple passengers were thrown out of the boat. One of his friends, Mallory Beach, died as a result of this accident.
It led to many lawsuits, followed by a criminal investigation against Paul. In the same year, he was charged with three counts of boating under the influence to which he pled not guilty. As the family of the deceased sued for wrongful death, a trial was imminent for Paul.
Amongst all this, the community was beginning to position themselves against the family in the belief that they were abusing their power and wealth over the course of the investigation.
After this shocking turn of events, Paul Murdaugh was found dead.
What Happened to Paul Mudaugh?
Following the boat incident, public interest in Paul’s upcoming trial began to grow in 2021. In the meantime, Maggie, who was at this point estranged from his husband, was living at the family beach house. Apparently, after being convinced to come to Moselle by Alex on the 7th of June, 2021, Maggie arrived and met Paul at the kennels of their property. The two were found dead.
Shortly after, Alex appeared at the scene and called 911. It was later confirmed that both victims died of gunshot wounds. Alex became the main suspect in the murder of Maggie and Paul. As a result, the case became a widespread national phenomenon, appearing in the headlines of many newspapers all over the country.
Did Alex Shoot Maggie and Paul?
In September 2021, Alex Murdaugh resigned from the family law firm following accusations of embezzlement. He was also sued by the company, which made him take this decision. The series of events kept on becoming bizarre from there.
On the 4th of September 2021, Alex dialed 911 to report a roadside accident. According to him, he had blown a tire. He told officials that when a stranger had stopped to assist him, they had pulled out a gun and shot him in the head. But other witnesses disputed that though it looked like Alex had been grazed by a bullet, it appeared to be a set-up made by him.
It was then that Alex came clean; he had arranged for a friend to shoot and kill him so that his remaining son, Buster, could receive a $10 million life insurance payout. The police arrested Alex shortly after and charged him with conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. It later led to his being disbarred. Though Alex posted bond and checked himself into a rehab center, he was arrested again on felony fraud charges.
On the 14th of July, 2022m Alex was formally charged with the double homicide of Maggie and Paul, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
There are Other Cases Involving Murdaughs
The Murdaughs do not seem to be a clean family. Besides this, records of other crimes have been found against them. In 2015, a gay teen called Stephen Smith was found dead from blunt force trauma in Hampton County. The case was ruled hit and run, and nobody was arrested. It was found that Buster and Smith were classmates and lovers. Many people alleged cover-ups. The police reopened the case in June 2021 when Alex’s wife and other son were murdered.
In another event, Gloria Satterfield, Murdaugh’s housekeeper, fell down the steps at an estate and died a few days later in 2018 of complications arising out of the injuries. At that time, the incident was reported as a ‘trip and fall’. However, the cause was not thoroughly investigated by the coroner, and not even an autopsy was performed. Alex was said to exhibit ‘suspicious’ behavior around the incident. He arrived on the scene before the medics and said that the housekeeper was pushed by the dogs which contradicted the victim’s statement.
Alex Murdaugh has also been involved in cases of tax evasion, narcotics distribution, and many more.
Some Highlights of the Docu-Series
- The docu-series highlights the Murdaugh family and traces their history in the tight-knit South Carolina community. The series also dives into the several scandals that plagued family patriarch Alex in the years that led to the slaying of his wife and son and the murder trial that took place after their death.
- The docu-series comprises three episodes only. Each episode ranges from 41 to 50 minutes, focusing on a different aspect of the story, beginning with the death of the 19-year-old kid, Mallory Beach, and continuing with the murders of the Murdaugh, wrapping up with Alex facing charges.
- Following the violence and the use of language, Murdaugh Murders: A southern Scandal has been rated TV-MA. Ensure you do not watch it with the younger audience.
- Do not expect the docu-series to come to a resolution or conclusion of what happened with the Murdaughs. Reportedly, when the docu-series was shooting, the main suspect was still on trial for double homicide.