Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts completely. The scandalous tale of the Murdaugh family, which has already attracted great attention due to its twists and turns that will leave even the most ardent true crime fan perplexed, gives new life to this age-old saying. After HBO Max’s Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty and ID’s The Murdaugh Murders: Deadly Dynasty, Netflix has opted to dabble in the twisted saga of Alex Murdaugh and his family, which has drawn the attention of the globe to Hampton County, South Carolina. Taking up after the unintentional murder of Mallory Beach, Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal chronicles the succession of events that made the mysterious history of South Carolina’s prominent Murdaugh family global news.
The latest Netflix docuseries focuses on the circumstances that led to the demise of the Murdaugh family heritage, beginning with Mallory Beach’s death.
What began as an unfortunate tragedy at the hands of the powerful Murdaugh family’s scion turned out to be only one dot in a long series of fatalities and financial crimes. The name Alex Murdaugh, who is presently on trial for the murder of his own wife and son, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, was at the heart of everything.
The Murdaughs was definitely the greatest figures in little Hampton County, where everyone knew everyone — a theme that was repeated several times during the Netflix docuseries, maybe to excuse the multiple viewpoints on the core events being explored. Since 1920, three members of the family had served as district attorneys. In addition, the Murdaughs owned a large law company in the region. In terms of status, it all translated into unrivaled authority for the Murdaughs, who were sometimes even beyond the law, if the Netflix series’ interviews are to be believed. In all honesty, what happens tends to prove the argument.
The Murdaughs’ fall from grace began on a disastrous February night in 2019, when the acts of Paul Murdaugh, Alex Murdaugh’s younger son, resulted in the death of Mallory Beach. According to the evidence and interviews of Paul’s pals, who became surviving victims of the tragedy that killed Mallory Beach, Paul drove their boat into the Archers Creek bridge. While Mallory’s pals — Miley, Morgan, Anthony, Connor, and Paul — all survived, Mallory, did not. Paul was driving the boat while intoxicated, and he had just smacked his ex-girlfriend Morgan seconds before the disaster.
The gang was on its way back from an oyster roast that Paul had organized. The evenings that followed were spent searching for Mallory. The more tragic fact of this terrible situation is that another rescue attempt was taking place at the same time. Alex Murdaugh was determined to clear his son’s name. When Mallory’s boyfriend Anthony remained at the scene of the incident to wait for his girlfriend, the others in the group watched Alex’s deception as he attempted to accuse Paul’s buddy, Connor. Alex later contacted Connor’s father in an effort of intimidation. Mallory Beach’s corpse was discovered eight days after the tragedy.
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Everyone knew the Murdaughs could not be trifled with. After many efforts, Paul was eventually charged with Mallory Beach’s killing. According to various stories from Paul’s acquaintances, the allegations against him had differing effects on him. But, Mallory Beach’s death was a tragedy waiting to happen at the hands of Paul, who was notorious for his aggressive conduct while intoxicated. Furthermore, failures in the first inquiry by local investigators, the Department of Natural Resources, revealed the inner workings of a formidable network that the Murdaughs had created over years. Evidence was not obtained and testimony was not properly recorded.
The death of Mallory Beach had already dragged the Murdaughs into disrepute, but a larger tragedy was on the way. Paul Murdaugh could not attend the first day of trial regarding Mallory’s killing since he and his mother Maggie were brutally killed on June 7, 2021. Alex was the first person on the scene, having called 911 to report the horrible killing.
Alex stated on the phone that he had arrived at his residence and discovered the bodies of his wife and son. According to Alex’s evidence, he was not present at the crime site when it occurred. This was proven incorrect when a video discovered on Paul’s phone plainly showed Alex with Maggie and Paul only seconds before their murders. Alex’s voice was heard in the background of a video with Paul and Maggie.
Soon after, Alex’s life got very complicated when a string of financial crimes he committed came to light. He was found guilty of defrauding individuals out of millions of dollars and was accused of misappropriating cash totaling $9 million by his former law company partners. When fighting the insurance companies, Alex frequently did not pass on the money he received through financial settlements to the family of the deceased. As a result, Alex was compelled to quit the law firm, now known as Parker Law Group.
During this uproar, Alex contacted 911 on September 4, 2021, stating he was shot in the head while changing a tyre on the side of the road. Days later, Alex confessed to planning his own suicide with the assistance of an associate, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) arrested Alex’s associate, Curtis Edward Smith, for attempting to assist in Alex’s suicide plot to help his son, Buster, claim $10 million from the insurance company. Alex Murdaugh was charged with new charges for his role in the plot. Smith, surprisingly, has denied any involvement in the shooting.
In an unsettling manner, the docuseries also investigates the other fatalities associated with the Murdaughs throughout the years. The first was Stephen Smith, who was discovered dead on the side of a road in 2015.
Stephen, a classmate of Alex’s eldest son Buster, was thought to be in a homosexual relationship with Buster, a pill that the Murdaughs supposedly found too bitter to swallow. The inquiry into Stephen’s killing was restarted days following the deaths of Paul and Maggie. Although many in Hampton County believe there is a deeper connection between Stephen’s death and the Murdaughs, there is no evidence to support this assertion.
Gloria Satterfield, who had worked for the Murdaughs for almost 20 years, died similarly. Her death in 2018 was first ascribed to a trip-and-fall event while working at the Murdaughs’ house. The case was revisited after a coroner discovered that the medical report claimed Gloria’s death was natural, removing the necessity for an autopsy at the time. Gloria’s sons later launched a lawsuit against Murdaugh after finding that Murdaugh had claimed over $500,000 for Gloria’s death. However, no money appeared at Gloria’s family’s door. This is consistent with Alex Murdaugh’s history of financial misbehavior. There were intentions to exhume Gloria’s remains as part of the revived inquiry to conduct a proper autopsy. Murdaugh reached an agreement with Gloria’s family in May 2022.
SLED notified Alex’s younger brother, John Marvin Murdaugh, in July 2022, that they had chosen to prosecute Alex for the double homicide of his wife and kid. The South Carolina Supreme Court disbars Alex the next month. Alex Murdaugh is indicted on two charges of murder on July 14, 2022. A lot more accusations were brought against Alex Murdaugh before the murder trial began on January 23, 2023, as a result of the financial fraud he had consistently perpetrated over the years. Alex acknowledged in court lying about his alibi the night of the murders, but he denied any involvement in the deaths.
Meanwhile, the prosecution has collected witnesses and evidence to establish Alex’s alleged crimes, including bodycam footage from the night of the killings. On February 21, the defense brought Buster Murdaugh to throw light on his father’s loving treatment of his family. With the trial still underway and many things unanswered, Netflix may have to release a second season of its most recent true crime docuseries to provide an updated picture of Alex Murdaugh’s crimes.