The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating allegations that Alex Murdaugh misappropriated money from his former law firm, where he was a partner.
The announcement was made late Monday by SLED Chief Mark Keel, whose agency investigates matters of a criminal nature.
Murdaugh’s former firm, Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED), is based in Hampton.
A source close to the case said the amount of missing money from the firm may be around $5 million.
“As Chief of SLED, I continue to urge the public to be patient and let this investigation take its course,” Keel said. “Investigative decisions we make throughout this case and any potentially related case must ultimately withstand the scrutiny of the criminal justice process.”
Keel continued that “with all cases, SLED is committed to conducting a professional, thorough, and impartial criminal investigation, no matter where the facts lead us.”
Jim Griffin, a Columbia lawyer who, with attorney Dick Harpootlian, is representing Murdaugh, declined to comment on Keel’s statement.
However, Murdaugh’s lawyers did say their client “regrets that his actions have taken the focus away from the solving the murders of Maggie and Paul” — a reference to the unsolved shootings in early June of his wife and son.
Danny Henderson, a lawyer with PMPED, said he did not have time to speak when a reporter called him on Monday evening.
The investigation into missing money is the fourth criminal investigation opened in recent months into matters related to the Murdaugh family.
Late on the evening of June 7, SLED began investigating the murders of Alex Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, at the family’s estate in Colleton County. They had been shot to death earlier in the evening outside their family home. Sources said Paul was slain with a shotgun and Maggie with an assault rifle.
No arrests have been announced in that investigation. SLED has named no suspects
Two weeks after those killings, SLED said it was investigating the 2015 death of Stephen Smith. He died in an alleged hit-and-run case that went cold. Widespread rumors linked Smith’s death to the Murdaughs, but nothing substantial tied the two. SLED said it opened an investigation due to information discovered in the ongoing investigation into the Murdaugh slayings.
On Sept. 4, Alex Murdaugh called 911 to report that he had been shot in the head on a rural road in Hampton County.
SLED is investigating that shooting as well. Griffin, Murdaugh’s lawyer, said his client sustained injuries, and the shooting was not self-inflicted.
SLED has declined to provide more information or corroborate Griffin’s account. The agency said it stands by its original description of Murdaugh’s wound as a “superficial gunshot wound to the head.”
On Sept. 6, two days after that shooting, lawyers for Murdaugh announced he was resigning from the law firm his great-grandfather started in 1910. Murdaugh issued a general apology to family, friends and the law firm.
“I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret. I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated by these murders (of wife Maggie and son Paul),” Murdaugh said.
“I am immensely sorry to everyone I’ve hurt including my family, friends and colleagues. I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself and my relationships.”
Murdaugh attorney Griffin said that his client had entered a rehabilitation clinic for a longstanding oxycodone addiction.
Later on Sept. 6, Murdaugh’s former law firm issued a public statement saying that on Sept. 3, the day before Alex Murdaugh reported being shot, lawyers confronted him with allegations that he had misappropriated money from the firm. The statement said Murdaugh had resigned that day.
“Rest assured that our firm will deal with this in a straightforward manner. There’s no place in our firm for such behavior,” the firm’s statement said.
The statement said Murdaugh was no longer associated with the firm “in any manner.” The firm said it notified law enforcement and the S.C. Bar Association about the missing funds.
In its statement, the firm did not say how much money Murdaugh was suspected of taking. Neither did the firm say whether the missing money was client money or firm operating funds.
On Sept. 8, the S.C. Supreme Court issued an interim suspension of his license to practice law.
That same day, the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office officially cut ties with Murdaugh as a volunteer prosecutor.
Keel’s comment Monday evening was a rare public statement by the SLED chief. Since the June 7 killings of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, SLED has issued few public statements and held no press conferences.
Another death involving the Murdaughs is being investigated — the boat crash in which 19-year-old Mallory Beach was killed in 2019. Before his death, Paul Murdaugh was charged with driving the boat under the influence. The S.C. Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation into police handling of the crash, and a state grand jury is looking into potential obstruction of justice, according to sources.