Alex Murdaugh Was ‘Clean From Head To Toe’ The Night Of The Murders, Detective Testifies
Former South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was “clean from head to toe” the night of the brutal murders of his wife and son, despite telling deputies that he had tried to render aid to his slain family members, according to law enforcement testimony.
Colleton County Sheriff’s Office detective Laura Rutland testified Friday that she saw no visible blood on Murdaugh just hours after his wife Maggie, 52, and youngest son Paul, 22, were found shot to death on the family’s sprawling hunting compound, according to The Post and Courier.
Rutland arrived at the property around 12:22 a.m. on June 8, 2021, just hours after authorities believe the mother and son were killed near some dog kennels on the property.
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Rutland was present for Murdaugh’s first official interview with investigators at 12:57 a.m., which, due to the light rain, took place inside SLED Special Agent Dave Owen’s vehicle, local station WPDE reports. Murdaugh’s personal attorney Danny Henderson was also present during the interview.
Murdaugh told investigators that on the night of June 7, 2021 he had gone to visit his ailing mother, who had late stage Alzheimer’s, before returning home around 10 p.m. and discovering the bodies of his wife and son.
Both were found lying face down in a pool of blood and brain matter.
Paul was struck by a shotgun blast that blew his head apart, while Maggie had a large hole in her head from a rifle shot, The Post and Courier reported.
Murdaugh told investigators that after making the grisly discovery, he had tried to take the pulse of both victims.
"I think I tried to turn Paul over first. I tried to turn him over, I don't know, I figured it out. And his cellphone popped out of his pocket and I tried to do something with it, thinking maybe, but then I put it back down really quickly,” he said in the recorded interview, according to WPDE.
Although he said he “touched them both,” Murdaugh told investigators that he “tried to do it as limited as possible” to preserve any potential evidence at the scene.
Rutland testified, however, that despite the bloody crime scene Murdaugh’s hands appeared clean and described him as being “clean from head to toe.” She speculated that he may have changed his clothes since his white shirt appeared clean despite him sweating from the heat.
She also testified that she saw no visible footprints or knee prints near the bodies, according to the local paper.
According to Rutland’s testimony, Paul’s hands had been underneath his body and Murdaugh would have had to either lift the body to take his pulse on his wrists or check for a pulse at his neck.
On the night of the murders, Murdaugh told investigators that he had been napping inside the main house before he decided to go visit his mother. He texted Maggie he was leaving at 9:08 p.m. but didn’t get an answer and later texted and called her when he was on his way back to the family’s property around 9:45 p.m., according to his interview with investigators.
Murdaugh never mentioned being near the dog kennels himself, however, in their opening statements Prosecutor Creighton Waters told jurors that Paul had sent a Snapchat video of a dog to a friend at 8:44 p.m. the evening of the murders and both his mother’s and father’s voices could be heard in the background, People reports.
They contend the mother and son were killed just minutes later.
When asked about the relationship he had with his wife, Murdaugh—who at times was visibly emotional during the interview—described it to investigators as “wonderful.”
“We had a wonderful marriage, wonderful relationship,” he said, according to WPDE.
He told authorities his relationship with his youngest son had been “as good as it could be.”
When asked whether anyone may have wanted to harm the family, Murdaugh referenced a fatal 2019 boat crash involving Paul. At the time of his death, Paul had been facing criminal charges for allegedly operating a boat while intoxicated, leading to a crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
Murdaugh told investigators that Paul had received threats after the deadly crash and was physically attacked months earlier in Charleston by people he didn’t know who were upset about the crash, leaving him with a black eye, the local paper reports.
“I’ve never been prouder of him than the way he has handled the pressures and the adversity in that situation,” he said. “Paul is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful kid. He’d do almost anything. He gets along with almost anybody.”
Murdaugh said he didn’t know of “any direct threats” from anyone who had been connected to the crash.
When questioned by the defense, Rutland admitted she did not ask Murdaugh for specifics about how he tried to turn his son over or what happened with his son’s phone.
Defense attorney Jim Griffin also asked her whether Murdaugh had been a suspect from the first night of the investigation. She responded that “everybody was a suspect,” including Murdaugh.
She also confirmed that brown hairs had been found in Maggie’s hand at the time of her death.
Melinda Worley, a SLED agent and senior criminalist in the forensic lab, also took the stand Friday to testify about the evidence she recovered from the crime scene, including a 12-gauge shotgun belonging to the Murdaughs loaded with a 16-gauge shell, 12-gauge shotgun shells found near Paul’s body and a spent .300 BLK rifle cartridge casing found near Maggie’s body.
SLED also confiscated three shotguns, a rifle, a night vision scope and boxes of ammunition, including .300 BLK rifle ammunition, found around the property, local station WHNS reports.
Investigators also discovered .300 Blackout rounds in the center console of Paul’s truck.
Worley said authorities used a LCV leucocrystal violet chemical to test for hemoglobin from blood on the clothes Murdaugh was wearing that night. Authorities got a presumptive positive.
The chemical will cause the area to turn purple if it is positive, however, she admitted that eventually over time the chemical oxidizes and everything turns a purplish-blue color.
The alleged blood spatter evidence on Murdaugh’s clothes has been a point of contention between prosecutors and defense attorneys. The defense team has sought to bar the testimony of blood spatter expert Tom Bevel after questioning his methods and changing opinions in the case, according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
No decision has been made about whether Bevel’s testimony will be included in the high-profile trial.
The trial will continue on Monday.