In 2021, we did a two part episode on the Murdaugh family saga. We covered the mysterious death of their housekeeper and the death of Mallory Beach at the hands of a drunk Paul Murdaugh in a boat crash. We also discussed how police were looking into other cold cases in the area to see if the Murdaugh’s could be attached.
And of course we spoke about the June 2021 murders of Maggie Murdaugh and her son Paul. They were shot multiple times at their 1,770 acre hunting property in Islandton, SC.
As we have those two episodes, we won’t go into the Murdaugh background in this episode. We absolutely recommend listening to those first if you’re not familiar with the case. This episode is going to be about Alex Murdaugh’s trial. Alex was Maggie’s husband/Pauls’ father and he was charged with their murders.
So, the trial began on January 25, 2023.
The lead prosecutor in this case was Creighton Waters. In his opening statements, he said that law enforcement had GPS from Alex’s smart devices and that they also had cell phone video which placed him at the hunting lodge at the time of the murders.
Paul had taken a video on the night of the murders, June 7, 2021, at 8.45pm. In the video, which was taken near dog kennels on the property, you can hear Paul’s voice, as well as the voices of Alex and Maggie.
Alex originally told police that he wasn’t near the kennels at the time but he later admitted that he had lied.
On January 26, footage from a police officer’s body cam was shown in court. This officer responded to the call of Maggie and Paul being found dead.
Alex cried in court when the footage was shown, but the responding officer said that Alex did not cry at the crime scene on the night of the murders. The officer said Alex didn’t seem upset and that there were ‘no visible tears.’
In the bodycam footage, Alex can be seen telling police that Paul had received threats due to the boat crash that killed Mallory Beach.
“This is a long story. My son was in a boat wreck months back, he’s been getting threats, most of them benign stuff we didn’t take serious.”
Just as a reminder about Paul and Maggie’s injuries – Paul was shot twice with a shotgun. Maggie was shot in the back with an assault rifle and was then shot several more times while she was on the ground.
On January 27, Alex’s lawyer Jim Griffin argued that because authorities had been invited to search the property, that was a sign of Alex’s innocence. He said no guilty person would be so transparent.
Jim also cross examined Detective Laura Rutland about how Alex looked on the night of the murders. There was allegedly no blood on his clothing.
“He didn’t look like someone who had just been within feet of blowing Paul’s head off, right?”
She responded, “I can’t say that. There are so many factors that you would have to take into account.” Though, she said that Alex could have changed his clothes after the shooting.
“He’s sweating, and they’re dry, so I’d say yes,” she said.
There was a break in court proceedings after this and they didn’t reconvene until January 31, 2023 which was a Tuesday.
Jeff Croft who is an agent with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division testified on this day about Alex’s alleged questioning following the murders. He said that Alex cried during a police interview and after seeing graphic photos of Paul’s body, he said “It was so bad, I did him so bad. “He’s such a good boy, too.”
The defense tried to argue that Alex had actually said ‘They did him so bad.” The recording was then replayed at ⅓ speed and Jeff said ‘I still hear him say I.”
On February 1, Britt Dove who is with the computer crimes unit for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (you may have also heard this division referred to as SLED during the trial – State Law Enforcement Division), testified about the use of Maggie’s phone on the night of her murder.
Maggie apparently made a phone call at 7.50pm that lasted for three minutes. She also sent messages to a friend that night as she headed to the hunting property. She said that something felt ‘fishy’ about Alex’s behavior.
Maggie and Alex had been having a rough time in their marriage and she had been staying at their beach house on Edisto Island, which was an hour away from the lodge.
Alex had apparently asked Maggie to meet there as his father Randolph Murdaugh III (81) was dying. He said that she needed to see him before he passed and asked her to come to the lodge so they could travel together to the hospital. She initially declined and asked that they meet at the hospital. Fatefully, she ended up changing her mind and she agreed to meet him at the lodge.
“He’s up to something,” Maggie allegedly wrote to her friend.
When Maggie arrived at the house, she left her car running. She walked to the dog kennels where Paul was taking photos of a dog that he was watching for a friend.
After the 7.50pm phone call, Maggie didn’t use the phone again. At 9.06pm, after it was believed that Maggie had already been murdered, the phone’s camera activated for a second. “It appears the phone’s being moved and the camera’s activating in the background to see if it would recognize somebody’s face that would unlock it,” Britt said. In the next hour, Alex called Maggie three times and sent her a text saying “Call me babe.” Prosecutors claimed that this activity by Alex was an effort to create an alibi.
Maggie’s phone was discovered discarded beside the road outside the gates of the estate.
On February 2, 2023, footage of Alex emerged that showed he had two different outfits on the night of the murder.
Prosecutors said that there was a Snapchat video that showed Alex wearing khakis and a blue shirt about an hour before the murders. When he spoke to police following the murders, he had a white t-shirt and shorts on.
On February 6, 2023, Mushelle ‘Shelley’ Smith who had been a caregiver to Alex’s mother testified. She said that he visited his mother’s home for 15-20 mins on the night of the murders, but he told her to say that he was there for 30-40 minutes ‘if someone asked.’
She also said that Alex’s behavior was ‘fidgety’ that night and he also offered to give her money for her wedding expenses.
Alex’s alibi for the night of June 7 was that he had visited his dying father and had also spent time at his mother’s home. He said after those visits, he got home to the hunting lodge and found Maggie and Paul dead.
Shelley’s testimony is important because if Alex was really only at his mother’s home for 15-20 minutes, he would have had time to commit the murders.
On February 7, Jeanne Seckinger who is CFO of the law firm where Alex was a partner, testified that she suspected he was stealing funds from the company. She said Alex had been writing company checks to a client but depositing them into a personal account of his. She said that on June 7 (the day of the murders), she confronted Alex about the missing money, which by then totalled $2.8m.
Jeanne said Alex was annoyed and abrupt during their discussion. He apparently received a call around this time about his father’s declining health. Jeanne told Alex they could discuss the missing money at a later date.
She testified that Alex had likely been stealing money since 2011. “I take his conduct very personally. He stole money,” she claimed. “That money was stolen.”
On February 8, 2023, a bomb threat was called into the court house.
At noon, a clerk at the sheriff’s office received a call from an anonymous phone number. The caller told the clerk that there was a “bomb in the judge’s chamber.” The courthouse was evacuated.
The threat was eventually traced back to Joey Dean Coleman, a 32-year-old man incarcerated in a different county. He had/has no apparent link to Alex or the murder trial, the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office alleged.
Officials allowed people back into the courtroom at around 2.30pm.
On February 15, 2023, Maggie’s sister Marion Proctor took the stand. She said that she had a strange conversation with Alex directly after the murders.
She asked Alex if Maggie had suffered when she died. “He assured me that she had not. Now, I don’t know that I think that was true.’
She also said that Alex did not seem concerned with finding the alleged perpetrator of the crimes.
“We never talked about finding the person who could have done it. It was just odd.”
Marion said that Alex said “he did not know who it was, he felt like whoever did it had thought about it for a long time.”
“I just didn’t know what that meant,” she said.
Marion also said that in the months after the murders, Alex said his number one goal was clearing Paul’s name regarding the boat crash that killed Mallory Beach.
“He said that his number one goal was clearing Paul’s name. And I thought that was so strange, because my number one goal was to find out who killed my sister and Paul.”
On February 16, the defense insinuated that Alex’s cousin Curtis ‘Eddie’ Smith could have been involved in the murders. They said his involvement in giving Alex drugs as well as his involvement in Alex’s failed ‘suicide for hire’ attempt meant that he could have been part of the murders.
On this day, details of Alex’s drug addiction were also discussed. There was a claim made by the defense that Alex was at one point, spending up to $50k per week on drugs.
On February 21, 2023, the only remaining Murdaugh child, Buster, took the stand.
Buster spoke about finding out about the murders’ He said Alex called and said ‘are you sitting down?’ “He sounded odd, and then he told me that my mom and my brother had been shot.”
Buster said that Alex was distraught on the night of the murders. “He was heartbroken,” he said. “I walked in the door and saw him, gave him a hug. He was destroyed.”
Buster also spoke about how Paul and Maggie had allegedly confronted Alex in the past about his drug use. Alex went to rehab in 2018 and Buster said “I thought that he had handled it.” He then said that there were “a couple of more times” that his father had relapsed. He testified that his father was always “apologetic and sorry” when he was confronted about his drug use.
Buster wasn’t asked about his father’s guilt or innocence and he squeezed Alex’s hand after he finished testifying.
February 23, 2023 was a big day. Alex took the stand. The defense began by asking Alex if he used any gun to “blow his son’s brain out,” or to shoot Maggie. Alex replied “I did not shoot my wife or my son,” and denied killing them multiple times while on the stand.
Alex’s voice became shaky as he held back tears.
“I could never intentionally do anything to hurt either one of them,” he testified. “Not ever.”
He then explained that his nickname for his son Paul was “Paul Paul” or “Pau Terry”.
“You couldn’t be around Paul Paul without having fun,” Alex said. “He was an absolute delight.”
Alex admitted on this day to lying about where he had been on the day of the murders.
“Why did you lie?” the defense asked.
“As my addiction evolved over time I would get in these situations or circumstances where I would get paranoid. I’m sorry I lied.”
“What a tangled web we weave,” Alex said. “Once I told a lie — then I told my family — I had to keep lying.”
“I lied about being down there, and I’m so sorry that I did.
Alex took the stand again the following day, February 24.
He spoke about his addiction to opioids and said he was taking more than 2,000 mg per day in the months leading up to the murders.
He continued saying “most days were more than that and many days would be … more than 2,000 milligrams a day.”
He testified that he was taking “30-milligram pills instant-release oxycodone, probably mixed in with some OxyContin, which is made of oxycodone — it’s just time release.”
He said that taking the pills made whatever he was doing ‘more interesting.’
He said he had a ‘pocketful of pills’ when he was speaking to SLED following the murders.
On February 28, 2023, Alex’s younger brother, John Marvin Murdaugh took the stand as the defense’s last witness before they rested their case. John spoke about cleaning up the crime scene.
‘I saw blood, I saw brains, I saw pieces of skull, I saw tissue,” he said. “And when I say brains it could just be tissue. I don’t know what I saw, it was just terrible.”
He said the scene was released back to the family just hours after the murders. When he visited the site, he said the spot where Maggie was found was covered with dirt ‘so there was really nothing to do.”
When he got to the feed room where Paul had been found, he said it had not been cleaned up. He said he started cleaning up the blood, brain and skull pieces. “It felt like it was the right thing to do,” he said, breaking down in tears. “I felt like I owed him, and I just started cleaning, and I promise you, no mother, father, aunt, or uncle should ever have to see and do what I did that day. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”
“I told Paul I loved him, and I promised him I’d find out who did this,” he testified.
John was also asked about Alex’s relationship with Maggie, Paul and Buster.
“All marriages, I’m sure, have hiccups here and there, but I’m telling you it was a good marriage.
“Anything that the boys were doing, Alex wanted to do.”
John Marvin also spoke about how he had been the one to find Maggie’s phone following the murders. He said, “it was brought to my attention that Maggie’s phone was not there and that law enforcement had not found it.”
He said when he turned on the “Find My iPhone” app on Buster’s phone, “it pings Maggie’s phone just out front of the property.”
He said he went to the shed on the property and told law enforcement that he had located the phone and that they could go get it.
But he said he was told, “No need,” because the law enforcement at the scene had technology that it was going to use to find the phone later that day.
John Marvin said he was perplexed by that because the phone was “right out here.”
John Marvin also gave testimony about Alex’s addiction and recounted a time where he had taken his brother to rehab.
“At one point he had taken the seatbelt off and he has his head down… and he is trying to stretch his legs and just kind of thrashing them and kicking them. Again, I’ve seen TV but I’ve never seen something like this in real life.”
“He messed himself. He had diarrhea and, it’s just, he couldn’t control it. When I say diarrhea I am not talking about a restroom, I am talking about the car and his pants.”
On March 1, the jurors visited the scene of the murders. They spent around an hour looking around the property.
On March 2, 2023, after deliberating for less than three hours, the jury found Alex guilty of the murders of Maggie and Paul.
“I want to thank the jurors for their service and the justice they delivered to Richard Alexander Murdaugh today,” Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Creighton Waters said in a news conference following the verdict.
“Alex Murdaugh tried one last con to prevent the accountability he has never had to face in his life, but the jury saw through that and properly found he murdered his wife and son in cold blood,” he added.
On March 3, 2023, Alex was sentenced to two life sentences which will run consecutively.
Just before handing down the ruling, Judge Newman told Alex, “It might not have been you. It might have been the monster you become. When you take 20, 40, 50, 60 opioid pills, maybe you become another person.”
TIMELINE OF JUNE 7
During the trial, we learned more about the confirmed timeline of events on June 7.
Before we get to the verdict, I think this might be a good point to run through it, so we are all totally clear on what happened.
At 12.06pm, Alex left the Moselle hunting lodge to drive to the PMPED law firm in Hampton where he worked. He arrived at 12.24pm.
At 3.28pm, the family housekeeper Blanca Turrubiate-Simpson finished cooking dinner for the family. She texted Maggie “dinners on the stove, just left’. Maggie texted back ‘Thank you.” at 3.40pm.
At 3.41pm, Alex attempted to FaceTime Maggie. She didn’t answer. A SLED agent said later that the log for this call was manually deleted from Alex’s phone.
At some point before 4pm, Roger Dale Davis arrived at the lodge to feed the dogs and chickens and to clean out the animal pens. He later told police that nobody was there when he arrived and that nothing was out of place.
At 3.55pm, Maggie texted the housekeeper Blanca. ‘Im waiting at doctor. Alex wants me to come home. I have to leave the door open at Edisto. I trust Mexicans to shut and lock for me. His dad is back in hospital. No cancer. It’s pneumonia.’
She texted Blanca again at 3.57pm regarding the pressure that Alex was under. ‘Alex is about to die. Hope he doesnt go down there to sleep. Alex needs to take care of himself as well.”
At the same time, Alex texted Maggie and said ‘how’s your doctor appt?”
She wrote back ‘waiting as usual.’
Maggie continued texting Blanca. At 4.06pm, she wrote ‘I’m scared for him and Alex and all of us.’ – this is in regards to Alex’s dying father.
Blanca texted Maggie, “I know just pray about it. Just pray about it and hope he gets a little better. Alex and you really need to relax. Always being on the go with little to no sleep is not healthy. I have a doctor’s appointment in the morning in Beaufort. If I go to Moselle I will let you know.”
Alex’s phone records placed him at the PMPED law firm between 4.10 and 6.25pm.
Maggie’s phone records placed her in the West Ashley area near Charleston between 4.25pm and 7.05pm.
Roger Dale Davis left Moselle at 4.30pm after caring for the animals.
At 4.35pm, Alex attempted again to FaceTime Maggie. She didn’t answer and this call was also later manually deleted from Alex’s phone.
Paul Murdaugh was in Okatie between 5.30 and 6.09pm according to his phone records.
At 6.08pm, Paul called ‘Dad’. No record of this call was ever found in Alex’s phone.
At 6.09, Maggie texted Paul saying that she was getting a foot massage.
Maggie’s sister Marian called her at 6.20pm. Maggie texted her saying that she couldn’t talk because she was getting the foot massage.
At 6.23pm, Paul texted Maggie to ask what Blanca prepared for dinner. She replied that it was country fried steak and mac and cheese.
At 6.24PM, Alex’s vehicle left the PMPED law firm and headed to the hunting lodge. He received a call from Jay Parker at 6.25pm.
Between 6.17 and 6.53pm, Paul’s phone records show that he was traveling from Okatie to Moselle.
At 6.40pm, Paul called ‘Pa’. The call lasted 2 mins and 29 seconds. Again, there is no call log found in Alex’s phone for this.
Alex arrived at Moselle at 6.42pm.
At 6.43pm, Alex called Maggie and the call lasted 104 seconds. Again, no call log is found in his phone.
At 6.53pm, Paul called John Marvin.
By 7.04pm, Paul was at Moselle.
At 7.05pm, Alex texted Maggie saying ‘Paul says you are getting a pedi! Call when you get done.’
At 7pm, Paul texted CB Rowe to ask if he was coming to Moselle the next day. Alex texted CB Rowe at 7.18pm saying ‘Call me pls.’
(As a note, CB Rowe had been hired to help maintain the Moselle property).
Between 7.07pm and 7.50pm, Maggie’s phone records show that she was traveling from the North Charleston area towards Moselle.
At 7.09pm, Maggie called Courtney Shelbourne and that call lasted 3 seconds.
At 7.09pm, Maggie called ‘Mom’. That call lasted 8 mins and 17 seconds.
At 7.18pm, Maggie called ‘Barbara.’ That call lasted two seconds.
Maggie called her sister Marian back at 7.31pm. This call lasted 7 mins and 39 seconds.
Between 7.35pm and 7.41pm, Paul’s phone recorded 171 steps.
At 7.39pm, Maggie called ‘Barbara’ again. There was no answer.
At 7.39pm. Paul recorded the video of Alex as a Snapchat video that he sent around 15 mins later.
Between 7.41pm and 7.48pm, Alex’s phone recorded 29 steps.
Between 7.45 and 7.56pm,Paul’s phone placed him near the dog kennels on the property.
At 7.50pm, Maggie’s phone is in Walterboro which is around 30 mins from Moselle. This is the last location data pulled from her phone. At this time, she called ‘Barbara’ again. That call lasted 8 seconds.
Between 7.55pm and 8.05pm, Paul’s phone recorded 262 steps. Alex’s phone recorded 270 steps at the same time.
At 7.59pm, Paul sent a Snapchat video of Alex.
At 8.06pm, Paul’s phone started moving from the kennels to the main house. He sent a Snapchat to several friends at 8.07pm.
Between 8.09-9.02pm, Alex’s phone recorded no steps. This indicates he was not moving with the phone on him. He later told police that he was sleeping during this time.
Maggie’s phone remained locked between 8.11pm and 8.31pm.
Paul’s phone was in the main house between 8.14pm and 8.35pm.
His phone recorded steps between 8.15 and 8.21pm. Maggie’s phone recorded steps between 8.17-8.18.
Over the next ten minutes, between 8.19pm and 8.29pm, Paul sends messages and responds to messages.
At 8.31pm, John Marvin texted several family members including Alex and Maggie saying ‘I plan to go over and visit dad tomorrow afternoon. Is anyone else planning to go?” Maggie’s phone unlocked for this notification at 8.49pm. Alex did not read this text until 1.44pm the following day.
By 8.38pm, Paul’s phone placed him at the kennels. At 8.40pm, Paul called his friend Rogan Gibson. Paul was minding Rogan’s dog and wanted to know if there was something wrong with the dog’s tail. That call lasted 4 minutes and 14 seconds. At 8.44pm, Paul recorded a video for Rogan of his dog. You can hear three voices in the video – witnesses have testified that those voices are Maggie, Paul and Alex.
Paul texted back and forth with a friend after this from 8.47pm to 8.49 when his phone was locked.
Maggie’s phone unlocked at 8.49pm and she read a text in the group chat about Randolph.
She accessed an app at 8.49pm and the phone was locked shortly after. It was not unlocked until the following day when it was found a quarter mile away.
At 8.49pm, Rogan texted Paul about the dog’s tail. ‘See if you can get a good picture of it. MaryAnn wants to send it to a girl we know that’s a vet. Get him to sit and stay. He shouldn’t move around too much.’
Paul never read that message.
Investigators believe Paul and Maggie were killed at around 8.50pm near the kennels. Paul was shot twice with a shotgun – once in the head and once in the chest. Maggie was shot 5 times with 300 blackout ammo from an AR style rifle. Two of those shots struck her in the head.
The next parts of the timeline are from after the murders.
At 8.53pm, Maggie’s phone screen was woken up to activate the Face ID security feature. The phone remained locked, indicating it wasn’t Maggie who picked up the phone. Her phone recorded 59 steps between 8.53 and 8.55pm.
Her phone took a screenshot of Facebook at 8.55pm.
Alex’s phone came to life at 9.02pm. In 4 minutes, it recorded 283 steps which is around 70 steps per minute. He called Maggie at 9.04pm. He then called his father Randolph at 9.06pm. That call lasted 18 seconds. There was no record of either call in the data extraction from Alex’s phone.
He called Maggie again at 9.06pm and there was no answer.
He left Moselle at 9.07pm and headed to Almeda.
At 9.08pm, Alex’s car drove past the spot where Maggie’s phone would be found the following day. After passing that location, the vehicle’s speed quickly increased.
At 9.08pm, Alex texted Maggie saying ‘Going to check on Em be rite back.’
Alex called Buster at 9.10 and that call lasted 60 seconds.
At 9.12pm, Alex called his friend and fellow attorney Chris Wilson. Chris said he was busy and would call Alex back.
At 9.18pm, Alex called John Marvin and that call lasted for 106 seconds. Again, no record of the call in Alex’s phone.
At 9.20pm, Chris Wilson called Alex back. They speak for 3 minutes.
At 9.22pm, Alex arrived at his mother’s property in Almeda. The speed of this trip is faster than any trip he took that day, reaching speeds of 74 miles per hour.
At 9.24pm, Shelly Smith, the caregiver, said that Alex called from outside and asked to be let in. Alex’s mother has dementia and Shelly said that she was asleep during the visit and that Alex was on his phone most of the time.
At 9.34pm, Rogan texted Maggie after he didn’t hear back from Paul. He said ‘Tell Paul to call me.’. That text went unread.
Alex called Paul at 9.46pm and the connection lasted 18 seconds. He texted Maggie at 9.47pm and said ‘Call me babe.’ That text went unread.
Chris Wilson and Alex played phone and text tag for a few minutes between 9.52 and 9.53.pm.
Rogan called Paul at 9.57pm and there was no answer. One minute later, he texted Paul ‘Yo.’
At 10pm, Alex returned to Moselle and parked at the main house. On the drive back, he reached speeds of 80mph when the max speed limit was 55mph.
Alex originally drove and parked his vehicle at the main house at around 10pm, At 10.05pm, he drove to the kennels. He called 911 at 10.06pm to report that Maggie and Paul had been shot.
After the 911 call ended, Alex drove his vehicle back to the main house, before returning again to the kennels at 10.14pm. At 10.17pm, Alex started calling and messaging people including Randy Murdaugh. He texted ‘Pls call me. Emergency.’
Police arrived at the kennels at 10.25pm and SLED were contacted for assistance.
At 10.47pm, Alex texted Buster saying ‘Call me urgent’. Buster called Alex at 10.47pm and that call lasted 162 seconds. He called back again at 10.56pm and that call lasted 216 seconds.
SLED arrived on the scene at 11.47pm.
CLIPS USED IN THE PODCAST EPISODE