A South Carolina lawyer who helped finance President Joe Biden's 2020 campaign was charged Thursday with killing his wife and son on the family's rural hunting estate.
Federal campaign records show that Alex Murdaugh, 54, made a maximum contribution of $2,800 to Biden's campaign in April 2020, several weeks after the Democrat's victory in the South Carolina primary.
Prosecutors allege that Murdaugh fatally shot his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, in June 2021. Their deaths remained unsolved for more than a year as authorities investigated. Murdaugh, the scion of a prominent legal dynasty, was already facing a slew of other charges involving financial fraud, money laundering, and the illicit sale of oxycodone.
The lawyer was also charged in 2021 for enlisting his cousin, Curtis Edward Smith, to kill him in a botched murder-for-hire scheme designed to ensure that Murdaugh's other son, Buster, would collect on the family life insurance policy. Murdaugh was wounded but not seriously hurt after Smith shot him on the side of the road.
The suspicious deaths of Murdaugh's wife and son prompted police to reinvestigate several other mysterious deaths that occurred on or near his property between 2015 and 2018. The New York Times reports:
The killings immediately put scrutiny on the Murdaugh family and the deaths of several people associated with them. The police began to re-examine the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, a 19-year-old man who was found along a road about 10 miles from the Murdaugh’s home and who was thought to have been hit by a truck, as well as the death of Gloria Satterfield in 2018, a housekeeper who worked for the Murdaugh family who died after falling on their house’s front steps.
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh had been facing charges of drunkenly crashing a boat carrying several of his friends, killing a 19-year-old passenger, Mallory Beach.
Soon after the 2021 killings, Alex Murdaugh’s life began to unravel as those around him began to accuse him of years of financial corruption. The law firm where he worked, which was founded by his great-grandfather more than a century ago, said in September that Mr. Murdaugh had stolen millions of dollars from the firm.
The disgraced attorney admitted last month to stealing $4.3 million worth of settlement funds owed to Satterfield's children as part of a wrongful death lawsuit over her fall at the family's home. He has been in jail since October 2021 awaiting trial on charges related to that case.
Murdaugh is far from the only prominent Democratic Party supporter to run afoul of the law in recent years. Ghislaine Maxwell, a Democratic donor and longtime associate of former president Bill Clinton, was sentenced last month to 20 years in prison for sex trafficking underage girls. Last week, Biden campaign surrogate and Cheer star Jerry Harris received a 12-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.