A cell phone belonging to Maggie Murdaugh was found on the road outside the 1,700-acre Colleton County estate the day after she and her son Paul were slain, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Although Paul Murdaugh’s cell phone was found near his body on the night of the killings June 7, investigators were unable to locate Maggie Murdaugh’s cell phone that night, the sources said.
It wasn’t until the next day, Tuesday, June 8, that a family member using his cell phone’s ability to “ping” Maggie Murdaugh’s cell phone found the phone on his digital cell phone map, sources said.
At that point, Maggie Murdaugh’s cell phone was retrieved and was given to the State Law Enforcement Division, the sources said.
The sources did not know whether SLED was able to find any touch DNA or fingerprints from the cell phone. Touch DNA, a modern scientific crime analysis technique, can be left on an object’s surface by someone’s mere “touch” and consists of skin cells containing DNA that can then be linked to a specific person.
Moreover, it had rained the night of June 7 for some time after the killings and the rain may have washed away any evidence on the cell phone, the sources said.
A police report supports the sources’ account of rain. On the night of the murders, around 10:30 p.m., an investigator with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office used a large tent to cover evidence that was “exposed to the elements,” according to a redacted police report released by SLED earlier this week.
Asked about Maggie’s cellphone on Wednesday, SLED spokesperson Tommy Crosby said he could not confirm “anything at this point. ... I will have to refer back to our original statement that it is inappropriate to comment on the specifics of the case while we have an active investigation,” he said.
The sources did not want to be identified because they are not officially authorized to release information about the case.
The disappearance and next day’s recovery of Maggie Murdaugh’s cell phone adds yet another layer of mystery to an already mysterious case.
More than two weeks have passed since the night Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were fatally shot on their family’s estate.
One of the few certain things about the case is that there is a killer — or killers — on the loose.
On the night of June 7, when Alex Murdaugh returned to the family’s 1,700-acre estate in rural Colleton County, he told police he found Paul’s body lying on the ground more than 100 yards from the main house. It was severely disfigured from shotgun blasts. Some distance away, shot numerous times with an assault rifle, was Maggie’s body. Shell casings were found near the bodies.
In 2019, Paul had been charged with boating under the influence in a nighttime crash in a waterway near Beaufort. A young woman, Mallory Beach, was thrown from the boat and drowned. One theory aired on social media posts was that Paul’s killing was some sort of retribution linked to the boat crash. Law enforcement officers have declined comment about possible suspects and motives. Adding to the mystery, officials said initially there was no danger to the public.
The Murdaugh family is legendary in a five-county Lowcountry region. For more than 85 years, generations of Murdaughs were the elected solicitors, in charge of prosecuting all serious crimes in Beaufort, Hampton, Colleton, Allendale and Jasper counties. On the civil side of the law, their law firm for years has sued big corporations, especially railroads, winning tens of millions of dollars for plaintiffs and the lawyers.
In recent days, the Murdaugh tragedy has made national news, being aired on ABC and NBC news programs and in stories in The Washington Post and the New York Post.