How are feds involved in SC Murdaugh murder investigation? Here’s what SLED chief says

·3 min read

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has used on a limited basis assets from federal law enforcement as SLED investigates Alex Murdaugh and a handful of cases connected to him, SLED Chief Mark Keel told The State Thursday.

Keel, who has issued few statements about SLED’s work in the Murdaugh investigation, has until now not commented on about the relationship between his state agency and federal authorities in that probe.

“From very early on in this investigation, SLED has utilized federal resources as needed,” Keel told The State in a written statement responding to a query. “We will continue to call upon our federal partners, as their assistance is needed, to successfully investigate and prosecute specific aspects of these cases.”

Keel did not detail the scope of the federal involvement. But he presumably was referring to the FBI, one of the nation’s premier federal investigative agencies with whom SLED has often worked with in the past on complex criminal matters.

People familiar with the investigations said SLED is responsible for nearly all of the ongoing investigations.

On June 7, SLED opened an investigation in the deaths of Alex Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, who were found shot to death at the family Colleton County estate. Their bodies were discovered by Murdaugh, a prominent Hampton County attorney whose law license has since been suspended.

Since, that investigation has morphed into a half-dozen separate but related investigations, including the alleged theft of millions of dollars from Murdaugh’s former law firm, the death of a Murdaugh housekeeper and a botched murder plot for insurance proceeds.

Keel said SLED is focused on all the crimes that stemmed from the fatal shootings of Paul and Maggie.

“During the course of the double murder investigation, SLED agents have uncovered other potential crimes that warrant further investigation, Keel told The State. “SLED agents continue to work diligently to bring justice to all victims in these cases.”

Keel said he’s been in contact with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina.

“The United States Attorney’s Office acknowledges SLED Chief Mark Keel’s statement and has no further comment at this time,” spokesman Michael Mule said Thursday.

The FBI has trained investigators and vast resources in all aspects of criminal cases, from white collar crime to murder. The U.S. Attorney’s office provides attorneys familiar with the various federal laws and who can prosecute cases in federal court.

SLED also has agents and resources in all areas of criminal cases. It is working with the S.C. Attorney General’s office, which has trained prosecutors in state law.

Keel encouraged the public to call 803-896-2605 if they have any information related to the at least seven investigations.

They include:

The unsolved June 7 slayings of Maggie and Paul

The embezzlement of millions of dollars — possibly as much as $10 million — from Murdaugh’s former law Hampton County firm.

The 2015 unsolved violent death of Stephen Smith on a rural Hampton County highway

The 2018 death of Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died after a fall at the Murdaugh family home. SLED is investigating her death and the distribution of $4.3 million in insurance proceeds after her death. A lawsuit filed last week alleges Murdaugh and two friends mishandled $2.7 million of insurance money that was due the rightful heirs, Satterfield’s two sons.

The 2019 violent death of Mallory Beach, 19, who drowned after being thrown from a boat allegedly piloted by Paul. Tests indicated Paul had been drinking. After Paul was killed, criminal charges against him were dismissed

An alleged botched plot on Labor Day weekend by a friend of Murdaugh to kill him so that his sole surviving son, Buster, could inherit $10 million.

Keel’s full statement said:

“As a result of the brutal murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh on June 7, SLED’s initial priority was finding anyone responsible for their deaths.

“During the course of the double murder investigation, SLED agents have uncovered other potential crimes that warrant further investigation. SLED agents continue to work diligently to bring justice to all victims in these cases. As I have previously stated, our agents remain committed to following the facts no matter where they lead.

“I have been in contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina. From very early on in this investigation SLED has utilized federal resources as needed. We will continue to call upon our federal partners as their assistance is needed to successfully investigate and prosecute specific aspects of these cases.

“While SLED continues to pursue all leads, we want to remind any member of the public who wishes to provide us with information related to these ongoing cases to call our 24-hour dedicated tip line at (803) 896-2605.”

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