In the wake of the June 7 double homicide of Paul Murdaugh and his mother, Maggie, rumors and speculation have filled social media sites and occupied gossip circles.
The Murdaughs’ prominent stature in the Palmetto state’s legal community — and Paul’s drunken-boating charges in the 2019 crash that killed Mallory Beach — have created fodder for amateur sleuths and true crime junkies.
The killings have spawned Facebook groups, TikTok videos, podcast episodes and daily Youtube videos.
On Monday, following a lawsuit demanding release of public records of police response to the crime scene, the lead agency investigating the double homicide provided heavily redacted police reports and a public statement. Otherwise, two weeks after the murders, South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division, SLED, has been tight-lipped.
Some argue the police’s silence has only fueled more rumors and speculation about the high-profile killings.
Reporters from The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette combed through social media and debunked some of the misinformation about the case. Here’s what we know:
Did Paul Murdaugh violate his bond after being indicted on boating-under-the-influence charge?
Paul Murdaugh was out on bond when he died on June 7. A judge removed the only condition of his release in July 2019 — allowing him to travel outside the 14th Judicial Circuit.
Although Murdaugh had at least two brushes with law enforcement — a speeding ticket and a minor boating infraction — while out on bond, an S.C. Department of Natural Resources captain told The Island Packet that a “simple boating violation” would not be reported to a judge in a case like Murdaugh’s.
The Island Packet has found no proof that Murdaugh violated his bond because he had no conditions to violate.
Are other local deaths related to the Murdaugh double homicide?
The names Stephen Smith and Gloria Satterfield have appeared online in the wake of the June 7 double homicide.
The body of Stephen Smith, 19, was found on July 8, 2015, on Sandy Run Road, near Crocketville.
Investigators reported he was the victim of a hit-and-run accident, despite police reports showing no evidence that ever took place.
Tuesday evening, a SLED spokesperson confirmed that the agency has reopened its investigation into Smith’s death, based on information gathered during the Murdaugh double homicide investigation.
In 2019, the Murdaugh family declined to comment on discussions about their family posted to social media, calling it “an outlet for unfortunate fabrications and unfounded comments based not on fact but based on speculation.”
Gloria Harriott Satterfield, 57, died on Feb. 26, 2018, at Trident Medical Center in North Charleston, according to her obituary.
Her obituary says she loved Alec [Alex Murdaugh] and Maggie Murdaugh and their family, “as her family.”
On Dec. 19, 2018, a representative of Satterfield’s estate filed a wrongful death claim against Alex Murdaugh. The suit says Satterfield died from injuries she sustained in a trip and fall accident in Hampton County. The initial court filing said Murdaugh’s insurance provider would pay $500,000 plus an additional $5,000 for medical payments.
Of that money, $177,500 was to be paid to the law firm Moss, Kuhn & Fleming.
The claim was settled on Oct. 5, 2020, according to court filings. The court filing does not say if anything else was included in the settlement.
As the newspapers pursue records and interviews in these cases, nothing so far links the deaths of Satterfield and Smith to the June 7 double homicide.
Did Paul Murdaugh slap and spit on Mallory Beach before crashing the boat?
Paul Murdaugh did not, according to court depositions filed in the civil case.
Other boaters said in their depositions that an argument took place before the boat, driven by Murdaugh, crashed into a piling in Archer’s Creek on Feb. 24, 2019.
They said Murdaugh was intoxicated while driving the boat.
Murdaugh’s ex-girlfriend, Morgan Doughty, said in her deposition that Murdaugh yelled at Mallory Beach after Beach expressed to her boyfriend that she was scared about Murdaugh’s driving.
Murdaugh slapped and spit on Doughty during an argument about going home instead of continuing their boat ride, according to Doughty’s deposition.
Did members of the Murdaugh family interfere with the investigation immediately after the crash?
Sobriety tests weren’t given to any of the boat passengers following the crash.
They were not given by law enforcement at the scene of the crash. When investigators with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources tried to test the teenagers at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, they were stopped by two lawyers: Randolph and Alex Murdaugh, according to DNR officials.
The Murdaughs told investigators the boaters wouldn’t be taking sobriety tests.
“They were uncooperative at that point,” DNR spokesperson Capt. Robert McCullough previously told the Island Packet.
Randolph Murdaugh is Paul Murdaugh’s grandfather and the former 14th Circuit Solicitor before Duffie Stone took office. Alex Murdaugh is Paul Murdaugh’s father, a personal injury attorney in Hampton County and authorized “volunteer” for the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
Were dogs killed on the Murdaugh property the night of the murders?
Since the June 7 killings, many people have asked whether dogs were killed during the shootings. There do not appear to have been any dogs killed on the Murdaughs’ property the night Paul and Maggie Murdaugh died, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
How involved is Solicitor Duffie Stone in the investigation?
The 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office’s connections to the Murdaugh family have raised questions about whether Solicitor Duffie Stone should step away from the investigation.
He almost immediately recused himself from the 2019 boat crash investigation that implicated Paul Murdaugh.
For two weeks after the murders, Stone refused to answer questions about his role in the investigation.
On Monday, Stone, in his first public statement, did not recuse himself. He justified his lack of recusal by saying there are no clear suspects in the case.
He said his office is available to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division for legal advice and “investigative support.” However, the solicitor did not clarify what role his office has played in the investigation besides maintaining contact with S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson and SLED Chief Mark Keel.
What work did Alex Murdaugh do for the solicitor’s office?
The Island Packet requested copies of all documents showing money paid by the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office to Alex Murdaugh, husband and father of the victims.
In response, the solicitor’s office said he has never been an employee and was never paid.
Alex Murdaugh, according to the letter sent to the newspapers, was “authorized as a volunteer” for the solicitor’s office. He helped his father, former Solicitor Randolph Murdaugh III, prosecute cases out of retirement.
The solicitor’s office has not responded to a follow up request from the newspapers seeking to clarify Alex Murdaugh’s volunteer work.
Was Paul Murdaugh in court the morning of the murders?
Rumors have spread on social media that Paul Murdaugh was in court the day of his murder. He was not.
Who has been named as a suspect in the case?
Police have not publicly named any suspects in the double homicide as of Tuesday morning.
Was the woman who jumped off the Broad River bridge related to the Beach family?
Several people have asked if a member of the Beach family jumped off a bridge near Port Royal the day after the double homicide.
This is not true.
A woman did jump from the Broad River bridge just after 9:30 a.m. on June 8. Kayakers pulled her from the water. She did not have any injuries, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Maj. Bob Bromage, and went to a local hospital for evaluation.
Law enforcement sources confirmed she is not a member of the Beach family.