Alex Murdaugh’s head wounds caused by gun shot, say doctors and EMTs in medical records

·6 min read

Alex Murdaugh’s medical records made in the hours after he first claimed on Sept. 4 that he was shot by an unnamed shooter show that doctors described his bloody head wound as consistent with being caused by gun fire.

The records contained comments, observations and diagnoses of Murdaugh made by doctors and nurses at a Savannah hospital, Memorial University Medical Center, and by medical personnel of the air ambulance service, Med-Trans, that flew Murdaugh from rural Hampton County to Savannah.

The Savannah hospital was the closest trauma center to the rural area where records said Murdaugh, 53, was shot.

The records — which include the dates, times and names of doctors, nurses and first responders who treated Murdaugh — repeatedly said Murdaugh had a bloody head injury to the rear part of his head. At the trauma center, Murdaugh was put in an intensive care unit, the records show.

The State, the Island Packet and the Beaufort Gazette obtained Murdaugh’s medical records from his attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin.

Detailed information from the records was first discussed on Good Morning America Friday morning by Harpootlian.

Both lawyers said they released the records in hopes of putting to rest an ongoing media controversy that erupted in early September over whether Murdaugh was actually shot on a rural Hampton County road. An initial Hampton Country Sheriff’s Office incident report — later corrected — erroneously said Murdaugh showed no visible signs of injury on Sept. 4 after the shooting.

The controversy intensified days later when Murdaugh admitted he wasn’t shot in a random shooting, but was hit after he arranged his own death and appeared in a bond hearing on an insurance fraud charge, where no gunshot wound was visible to reporters in the room. At that hearing, Murdaugh, who has a thick head of hair, showed no visible sign of a head injury.

“Bloggers have questioned whether he was shot based on his hair style, not upon actual records,” Griffin said. “These records answer that question. He really was shot.”

Air ambulance records said that on Sept. 4, when a helicopter nurse and paramedic arrived in Hampton County to fly Murdaugh to Savannah, local first responders on the scene told the airborne medics that they “possibly saw two wounds to the back of (Murdaugh’s ) head before wrapping the wounds in gauze/bandages.”

The gauze appeared to control the bleeding, the airborne medics noted.

On the helicopter ride to Savannah, the medics removed the gauze “to better assess the wound. Unfortunately due to heavy matting of congealed blood in the patient’s hair, (we were) unable to accurately assess the nature of the wound(s),” it said.

Records said that Murdaugh’s helicopter ride from Hampton County to the Savannah hospital cost $50,650.

Hospital records made Sept 4 in the hours after Murdaugh arrived at the hospital said he had a “gunshot wound to the head,” with a fractured back skull bone, a laceration of the head, bleeding in the brain. It also said Murdaugh had a subdural hemotoma, or a buildup of blood on the brain, usually caused by an injury.

One hospital physical exam noted Murdaugh had a “gunshot wound to the occiput (back of the skull).” Another exam found “two wounds ... across (the) posterior scalp.” Another exam found “two superficial appearing bullet wounds to the posterior scalp.”

The records contained numerous other details, even noting that although Murdaugh doesn’t smoke, he chews tobacco and one of his brands of smokeless tobacco is “Kodiak.”

An excerpt from Alex Murdaugh’s medical records discuss his gunshot wound, fractured skull and bleeding in the head after a shooting over Labor Day weekend.
An excerpt from Alex Murdaugh’s medical records discuss his gunshot wound, fractured skull and bleeding in the head after a shooting over Labor Day weekend.

Medical records outline gunshot wound

The shooting that sent Murdaugh to a hospital over Labor Day weekend is a central question in a charge brought against him by the State Law Enforcement Division.

That charge accuses Murdaugh of having a friend, Curtis Edward Smith, shoot him in the head for insurance purposes, according to a Sept. 14 warrant.

In a Thursday interview with NBC’s “Today” Show host Craig Melvin, Smith said he was surprised when he met Murdaugh on a rural Hampton County road on Sept. 4. He said Murdaugh displayed a gun and asked Smith to shoot him. Smith said he refused and the two men tussled for the gun when it went off.

Murdaugh was not struck by gunfire, Smith told Melvin.

“There was no blood on him,” said Smith, adding he was “1,000%” positive Murdaugh wasn’t hit. “If I’d shot him, he’d be dead.”

Smith said he left the scene after the shooting and threw the gun away.

Harpootlian said the hospital records are substantial proof that Murdaugh’s version of events is correct.

Smith is not “telling the truth,” Harpootlian told Good Morning America.

Drugs detected

The hospital records also support another assertion Murdaugh’s lawyers have been making for weeks.

Lawyers said their client has an opioid addiction problem that has caused him to make severe errors in judgment.

A urine test on Sept. 5 found that Murdaugh had elevated levels of two drugs — barbiturates and opiates, according to the hospital records.

“Patient did admit using narcotics and benzos at home,” the records said.

The day after the shooting, when Murdaugh was in the intensive care unit, he kept pulling medical devices off of him and walking around the unit. He complained of an “excruciating headache,” the records said.

The next day, still in the intensive care unit, Murdaugh pulled an IV out of his arm while talking with two SLED agents, records said. Since Sept. 4, Murdaugh had been in detox and undergoing treatment for a drug addiction, Griffin said.

“The records show that Alex has been honest with SLED in his reporting of the roadside incident and his struggles with addiction,” Griffin said.

Murdaugh is currently in a detention facility awaiting extradition from Orlando, Florida, to South Carolina on warrants that SLED has issued. He had been in a rehabilitation center undergoing treatment.

Once Murdaugh comes back to South Carolina, he could have a bond hearing, possibly as early as Monday at the Richland County courthouse, sources familiar with the case said.

The warrants charge Murdaugh with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.

The charges stem from a SLED investigation that alleges Murdaugh misappropriated settlement funds in the death of Gloria Satterfield, Murdaugh’s deceased housekeeper. She died from injuries in a fall at Murdaugh’s house in February 2018.

SLED’s investigation into what happened to Satterfield’s insurance proceeds was prompted in part by a civil lawsuit filed last month by Columbia attorney Eric Bland, who represents Satterfield’s two sons.

They were supposed to have received $2.7 million from the insurance resulting from their mother’s death. Instead, Bland’s lawsuit alleges, that money went into a bank account controlled by Murdaugh.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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