Only a few months ago, Netflix’s crime documentary series Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal introduced us to the strange events in South Carolina’s Hampton County. Within a relatively short span of time, three mysterious deaths had been linked to the Murdaughs, a very renowned and established family of lawyers in the region and also in the state. However, by the end of season 1, it was shockingly revealed that Alex Murdaugh, the erstwhile patriarch of the family, had been arrested on the suspicion that he had killed his wife and son. While Murdaugh Murders season 2 does not necessarily add too much new information following the previous iteration, it does focus more on the later investigations, which had not yet taken place when the first part was made. Overall, Murdaugh Murders season 2 is just as gripping as season 1 and makes for a tense and entertaining watch.
What exactly happened in Hampton County?
The entire matter began in February of 2019, when a teenage girl named Mallory Beach went missing after a horrific boat accident before her dead body was finally rescued from the water. On the night of February 23, Mallory and her closest friends went out to a party, among whom was also Paul Murdaugh. The youngest son of the famous Murdaugh family, Paul, was known to have a drinking problem, with the boy even turning violent and abusive when under the influence. Since it was Paul’s boat that the friends had taken out that evening, the boy insisted that he should be the one driving the vehicle, despite him being terribly drunk. Paul was noticeably careless at the wheel of the boat, which eventually crashed into a bridge, throwing everyone into the water. While the rest of them got away with physical injuries, Mallory could not get out of the water and lost her life.
Over the next many months, an investigation was carried out by the police, but there was also an opinion among the public that this investigation was botched. Being the most successful lawyers in the region, the Murdaughs had close ties with many of the police officers as well, and so the authorities were assumed to have been biased in helping Paul escape legal punishment. The family internally decided to punish the son, which was again believed to be just a false show, and Paul was now moved to their large log cabin at a place called Moselle. Season 2 mentions that the boy had been once again detained by the authorities only a few months after the accident, as he was yet again driving a boat while being drunk and in possession of a lot of alcohol.
There were understandably quite a few people who were angered by Paul Murdaugh’s total lack of accountability, and many wanted him to be justly punished for his actions. However, the ultimate fate that awaited the teenager was absolutely shocking and unfortunate. On the fateful night of 7th of June 2021, the local police received an emergency call from Alex Murdaugh, stating that somebody had broken into their Moselle property and shot his wife, Maggie, and their youngest son, Paul, dead. As the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) officers reached the place and primarily investigated the crime scene, they found that the two victims had been killed with two different guns. While a shotgun had been used to murder Paul, a more advanced AR-15 rifle had been used to shoot Maggie. It was also noticed that the two bodies were not together but about twelve steps away from each other, making it clear that the two individuals had been killed separately.
A few months after the crime, the investigation team gradually started to feel that it was Alex Murdaugh who seemed like the primary suspect in the matter. At this time, the man had also been charged by his family business with having stolen large funds from the firm. Facing pressure from both sides, Alex then got involved in a bizarre incident in which he was found to have been shot by the side of the road one fine day. However, as this matter was investigated, it was swiftly found out that Alex had hired a good friend of his, who was also possibly his drug dealer, Curtis Edward Smith, to shoot him.
What was Alex’s defense against the charges?
From the very moment that the SLED officers responded to the 911 call and reached the Moselle estate, Alex Murdaugh was careful to mention his theory. From the bodycam footage of the officers, the man immediately mentioned that his son Paul had been involved in a boat accident some months ago, because of which he had gained some new enemies. He implied that it must have been someone like this who had broken into the property and brutally murdered his son and wife. According to Alex’s account, he had spent time at his office from the morning until he was informed of his father’s failing health, as the latter had to be admitted to a hospital. Once he returned to the Moselle estate house, Alex met with Paul, and the two spent some time together, trying to hunt boars and then shooting some guns for target practice. Maggie Murdaugh had been away for the day as she had a doctor’s appointment, and the family was meant to have dinner together.
Alex stated that the three did dine together, following which his wife and son wanted to go for a walk on the estate to visit the dog kennels. This was quite normal for them, according to the man, and so he stayed back and rested on the couch. It was at this time that he received news that his mother, who lived in a house some thirteen miles away from Moselle, was ill. Intending to help the elderly woman, Alex drove to the place and also spent around forty or fifty minutes with his mother. During this time, and especially during his return, Alex called both Paul and Maggie to inform them about what had happened and also to let them know that he was out of the house. However, he could not reach either of them, as, by this time, they had been killed.
The next morning, Alex called their trusted housekeeper, Blanca, to inform her of what had happened. He then also asked Blanca to come over and clean up the house before people from the authorities arrived. While Alex and his younger brother, John Marvin, claim that they did not have any intentions behind this request to Blanca other than simply to tidy the place up, most saw this as a way to get rid of evidence from the crime scene. During her court testimony, Blanca does mention seeing some unusual and strange things inside the house, like Maggie’s clothes neatly placed on the floor or food utensils being placed inside the refrigerator haphazardly. Along with being the housekeeper, Blanca had also become extremely close friends with Maggie, and so she is very confident that the woman would have never kept her house in such a manner. This, in turn, suggested that Alex had indeed tried to tamper with evidence after the death of his wife.
In the case of the later incident—that of Alex being suddenly shot by the side of the road—the man initially stated that he had no idea about who his assailant had been. However, after a brief investigation, the man admitted that he had planned to commit suicide and had called his close friend, Eddie Smith, to help him out. Eddie was also interrogated, and the man is present in the Netflix docuseries as well. According to both their versions, Alex had called up Eddie and asked him to meet at a very specific location. Once there, Alex wanted to hire Eddie to kill him so that he could apparently end all the shame and false allegations that were coming against him and his family. But Eddie denied doing so, and when Alex persisted, he shot the gun up in the air. According to Eddie, the loud noise and sudden firing of the gun made Alex fall backward, leading to his injuries. But after the incident, Alex seemed to try and put the blame directly on Eddie, perhaps even hoping that the man would be tied to the double murders as well.
What happened on 7th June, 2021?
Based on Alex’s statement, the man tried to claim that one or more individuals had broken into the property and murdered his family members, but this theory was ultimately ruled out. In fact, the investigators and experts believe that two different guns were used in the murders only to give the impression that there were two perpetrators. However, according to the same experts, the manner in which the son and mother had been killed very clearly showed that it was not the work of a group or any organized crime. There was also a theory that Alex was heavily involved with some drug trafficking group, which had sent men to kill his family after he failed to make payments. This was also quickly ruled out by experts based on the way the murders had been committed. According to them, had Paul and Maggie been killed by some group of organized crime, there would not have been such a mess at the crime scene. It was evident from the scene that someone unaccustomed to such crimes had committed the murders.
Other than this, Alex Murdough’s claims also started to fall apart when he was proven to have been at the crime scene around the same time when the murders were committed. The man had stated numerous times that he had been away to his mother’s house during the time, and had found his family slaughtered when he returned. However, Shelley Smith, the caretaker appointed for Alex’s mother at her house, provided testimony in court, which completely shattered the man’s claim. According to Shelley, Alex had indeed come over to the house on the night of June 7, but he had stayed for only around twenty minutes. The day after the murders, Alex had again returned to the house and convinced Shelley to tell everyone that he had stayed for around forty to fifty minutes. If Alex had indeed stayed for only twenty minutes and had then returned to the Moselle estate house, then he was at the place when the double murders had taken place.
A final nail in the coffin for Alex was found when his son’s phone was finally accessed. Paul had been very secretive about his phone, and nobody else knew about the passcode. Therefore, the investigators had to spend months trying to break into the phone and go through his chats and messages. Once they did manage to do so, another crucial and breakthrough piece of evidence was found. A close friend of Paul, named Rogan, had been outside of town at the time, so he needed someone to look after his pet puppy, Cash. Rogan had trusted Paul with the animal, and it had been kept inside the kennels at Moselle. On the night of the 7th, only a few minutes before the murders, Alex had shot a video on his phone, which he intended to send to Rogan when there was better cellular network. This video was of the puppy Cash, but very crucially, it contained the voices of both Maggie and Alex Murdough in the background.
This immediately made it clear that Alex was present at the estate during the murder of his wife and son, and the previous pieces of evidence all turned the case completely against him. When confronted in court, the man agreed that he had indeed lied about not being at the crime scene but still continued to claim that he had not committed the murders.
What has been the final court verdict against Alex Murdough?
Despite all his best efforts to prove otherwise, Alex Murdough has come out to be the most likely perpetrator of the double murders. Although no certain information about his motive had been found, the most plausible and accepted theory is that Alex had come to the realization that he could not control the actions of Paul anymore. Since the youngest son was bringing shame and slander upon the family name repeatedly, Alex decided to kill him, as the pride and honor associated with the family name was something extremely important to the man. Once he had killed the boy, the mother must have come running to the place, and he killed her too, as it was all part of a premeditated plan. After being imprisoned since 2021, Alex was finally given his sentence in March 2023, following a long investigation and court trial.
Alex Murdough has been sentenced to two consecutive life imprisonment terms as the court found the man guilty in the premeditated murder of his wife and son. Living in prison, the man is now hoping to appeal the punishment sentence as he continues to claim innocence in the horrific murders. As Netflix’s Murdaugh Murders season 2 ends, though, it also presents a number of the people involved in the entire matter, claiming that they strongly believe that there must have been someone else who had helped Alex commit the crime. While Eddie Curtis seems like the most possible helper, the man outright denies such claims but also states that Alex was involved in more messed-up things. Whether the man’s eldest son, Buster, might have played some role in the matter or whether someone else was part of it can be seen if this stranger-than-fiction case gets more investigation and a further season is released.