‘I didn’t think it was a credible threat… maybe I made a mistake’: Family of legal dynasty mom and son shot dead sob as they reveal the 22-year-old had been receiving threats after ‘drunkenly killing girl, 19, on boat’
Relatives of a murdered mom and son from a South Carolina legal dynasty sobbed as they revealed the 22 year-old had been threatened over his alleged drunken killing of a 19 year-old girl.
Paul Murdaugh, 22, and his mom Margaret ‘Maggie’, 52, were found shot dead at their hunting lodge in Islandton, South Carolina on the night of June 6. Their corpses were found by Alex Murdaugh, who is Maggie’s husband and Paul’s dad.
Now, 11 days on from the killings and with no arrests made, Alex’s brothers Randy and John Marvin Murdaugh spoke out for the first time in an emotional interview with Good Morning America Thursday where they pleaded for people to come forward with information no matter ‘big or small.’
The two brothers insisted they do not know of any enemies who would want to harm Paul and Maggie but did reveal that Paul had been receiving threats from strangers.
‘I don’t really know of any enemies,’ said Randy.
‘We hear all this talk on social media in regard to Paul but I don’t really know of anybody who would truly be an enemy or would truly want to harm them.’
John spoke of unspecified threats made to Paul, and said he’d initially dismissed them as coming from crackpots – but now said he wonders if he was wrong.
The family of the son and mom from a prominent South Carolina legal dynasty who were shot dead in a double murder broke down in tears as they issued a plea for help on GMA Thursday
‘I didn’t think it was a credible threat. If it was I would have tried to do something or notified someone,’ he said.
‘But I guess, maybe I made a mistake.’
Alex Murdaugh – a part-time prosecutor for the 14th Circuit solicitor’s office – called 911 at 10.07pm on June 6 to say he had returned home and found their bodies outside the residence.
Officers arrived on the scene to find both Paul and Margaret dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
Buster, Margaret, Paul and Alex Murdaugh (left to right). Margaret, 52, and Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found dead, shot multiple times, in the backyard of their sprawling estate in Islandton, South Carolina, June 6
Paul had been awaiting trial on charges relating to the 2019 boating death of Mallory Beach, who was thrown from the boat he was allegedly driving while drunk when he crashed it.
A police source told local newspaper The Island Packet that they believed Paul to have been the target of the murders, with his mom shot for being with him when the killer or killers struck. Two different guns were used in the shootings.
Questions around a possible tie between the incident and last week’s killings continue to mount as the state attorney general is refusing to close the case into the boat crash despite the death of the man accused of being culpable.
The local community felt Paul was receiving special treatment in the boating death case due to his family’s power and legal expertise.
The Murdaugh family has dominated the county’s legal system for decades, prosecuting nearly every criminal case in the southern part of the state.
Alex’s brothers Randy and John Marvin Murdaugh (left and right) revealed Paul had been receiving threats from strangers but insisted the family did not have enemies
Several family members have served as county elected prosecutors in the 14th Circuit solicitor’s office going back almost a century.
Randy and John denied that the family exercised its legal power to interfere in the boating case in any way and said they believe the perception of them as a ‘dynasty’ is all wrong.
‘You see words like dynasty used and power and I don’t know exactly how people use those words but we’re just regular people and we’re hurting just like they would be hurting if it happened to them,’ said Randy.
The family members choked back tears as they revealed how, on the day of the murders, Alex had just taken their dying father Richard Murdaugh III back to the hospital and gone to check on their mother.
He then returned to his own home to find the bodies of his son and wife, they said.
Law enforcement sources previously told local outlet The Island Packet Alex told cops he had been out shooting that day when he returned to the grim scene.
John said he got a phone call from Alex that night and just ‘knew something was wrong.’
‘I got a call from Alex Monday night. As soon as I picked up the phone I knew something was wrong,’ he said.
Paul had been awaiting trial on charges relating to the 2019 boating death of Mallory Beach (pictured), who was thrown from the boat Paul was allegedly driving while drunk when he crashed it
‘Oh man, he just told me: “Come as fast as you can. Paul and Maggie have been hurt.”‘
Randy described his brother as a ‘very caring person’ whose wife Maggie was ‘the rock of the family.’
‘His voice – the fear, he was just distraught,’ Randy said of speaking to his brother.
He added that the horrific murders had changed them as ‘a family’.
‘I can’t imagine horror that my brother is experiencing,’ he said.
John told how one moment Alex is ‘upright and strong, and making his way and then he just breaks down’.
The family said they were speaking out to urge anyone with information to come forward.
‘The person that did this is out there and there’s information however big or however small it is,’ said Randy.
The Murdaughs were dealt another tragedy last week when three days after Monday’s murders, Paul’s grandfather and Alex’s father Richard Murdaugh III died aged 81. His death is believed to have been the result of natural causes.
Now, 11 days on from Paul and Margaret’s murders, little is known about what happened.
Investigators were seen searching near a swamp close to the scene of the murders, reported GMA.
Police have made no arrests, revealed no suspects, persons of interest or possible motives, and little information has been released to the public.
They have ruled the deaths a double homicide but insisted there is no risk to the public.
The Murdaugh family home where the two bodies were found. Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey said they had each been shot multiple times, with their time of death placed at between 9pm and 9.30pm
The bodies were said to be found near a dog kennel on the family’s property by Richard
Repeated requests for information from SLED were denied, citing an active investigation – even though South Carolina state law requires police to provide some records on cases in the days following an incident.
On Tuesday, State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) finally shared a press release about the investigation.
It gave few details, other than confirming Alex made the 911 call at 10.07pm to report finding his wife and son’s bodies.
The agency again ruled out releasing further information about the case saying it does not want to jeopardize the investigation.
‘SLED is committed to conducting a professional and thorough criminal investigation to bring justice in the deaths of Paul and Maggie,’ it said.
‘SLED is further committed to transparency and will release any additional information, including additional information provided during the 911 call, at the appropriate time.
‘However, we cannot and will not do anything that could jeopardize the integrity of this investigation or that would violate the due process afforded to all in our constitutional system of justice.’
Officials also finally set up a dedicated tip line for the case.
Prior to this press release, the only report released to date had been a one-line statement from Colleton County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday.
It reads: ‘On June 7, 2021 at approximately 2226 hours I responded to 4147 Moselle Rd in Colleton County in reference to two gunshot victims found by the caller.’
Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey confirmed Monday the two victims had each been shot multiple times, with their time of death placed at between 9pm and 9.30pm.
Paul (right) – the son of a powerful South Carolina legal family – is thought to have been the intended target of the shooting that also killed his mom Margaret (left)
The coroner said authorities would know more when the full autopsy is completed in around six weeks’ time.
Harvey refused to answer any further questions about the case or confirm reports that two separate firearms were used in the slayings.
‘That is all the information we are releasing at this time,’ Harvey said Monday.
‘They were both shot multiple times and SLED will take it from here,’ he said.
A law enforcement source last week told The Island Packet Paul was shot in the head and upper body with a shotgun, while Margaret was shot with an assault rifle.
The source said Paul was thought to have been the intended victim of the shooting while Margaret was likely in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Their bodies were found several yards apart from one another and shell casings were discovered at the scene, they said.
SLED was handed the case from Colleton County Sheriff’s office almost immediately due to the Murdaugh family ties to the 14th Circuit solicitor’s office.
Rumors continue to swirl over the case given the silence from officials and Paul’s charges over the boating death.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said Monday the charges had been dropped following Paul’s death but that the investigation remains open.
Paul, Margaret, Alex and Buster. The Murdaugh family has ruled the county’s legal system for decades, prosecuting nearly every criminal case in the southern part of the state
Alex and Margaret pictured together. Officials continue to remain tight-lipped about the double murders
‘We had every intention of moving forward with Paul Murdaugh’s prosecution,’ spokesperson Robert Kittle told the Island Packet.
‘While the charges against him will be dismissed, the case has not been closed because the investigation is not finished.’
The local paper had asked the office for the case files.
This has fueled speculation about why the investigation is still ongoing, with the attorney representing Paul saying he believes it suggests cops are probing a tie between the 2019 death and the double murder.
‘I can understand that they would not want to open the investigative file to disclosure because there may be information related to the murder investigation,’ said attorney Jim Griffin.
Paul was awaiting trial on three felony charges of facing one count of boating under the influence causing death and two counts of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury over the death of Mallory in 2019.
According to depositions filed as part of a lawsuit brought by Mallory’s family last year, he and Mallory were part of a group of six who went by boat to an oyster roast on Paukie Island on February 23 2019.
The group left to head back around midnight.
Witnesses at the party said they urged the group not to travel by boat as it was foggy and cold and they had been drinking.
Paul was ‘grossly intoxicated’, got into an argument in a bar and insisted on driving the boat, according to testimony.
Mallory Beach (pictured). Questions around a possible tie between her boating death and last week’s murders continue to mount as the state attorney general is refusing to close the case into the boat crash despite the death of the man accused of being culpable
Paul’s attorney said the fact the 2019 case is not closed suggests a tie between the case and the murders
Paul’s cousin Anthony Cook, who was also Mallory’s boyfriend, said Paul was behaving erratically in the moments before the crash.
He started yelling at his girlfriend and slapped her, before stripping down into his underwear in the 40 degree weather, he said.
‘Paul for some reason acted like he was on drugs or something. He started taking his clothes off during one of the arguments, and it is 40 degrees outside,’ Cook sad in his testimony.
‘I’ve seen him do it a few times when gets drinks. I don’t know why he does that.’
Paul then allegedly pushed the boat full throttle and it crashed into bridge pilings that lead to Parris Island.
Mallory was thrown from the boat and drowned. It took dive teams nine days to find her body in the water.
Cook also testified that Paul would often get drunk and become a different person, earning him the nickname ‘Timmy’.
An excerpt from testimony by Anthony Cook, who is Paul’s cousin and was Mallory’s boyfriend at the time, describing Paul strip down to his boxers
Excerpt from Cook’s testimony about Paul’s drunk alter ego ‘Timmy’
Excerpt from Cook’s testimony about the arguments before the boat accelerated and crashed
‘It’s a different name because he turns into a completely – totally different person. So somebody will say, ‘All right. Here comes Timmy. We got to go.”‘
Paul pleaded not guilty and was due to stand trial.
The day after the boating accident – and weeks before Paul was charged – the 14th Circuit solicitor’s office told the attorney general about the conflict of interest.
Mallory’s mother filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against the family last year.
The suit also named Parker’s convenience store, saying a store clerk sold alcohol to two of the underage teens that night after one of them flashed a fake ID.
Both Mallory and Paul were underage at the time.
The first two judges it was assigned to each recused themselves from the suit and it was eventually handed to a judge from another county in the state.
The Beach family released a statement after the murders saying they hoped the killer would be brought to justice.
‘The Beach Family extends its deepest and warmest sympathies to the Murdaugh family during this terrible time.
‘Having suffered the devastating loss of their own daughter, the family prays that the Murdaughs can find some level of peace from this tragic loss.
‘They would like the family and the community to know that their thoughts and continued prayers are with the Murdaughs.
Authorities are refusing to release almost any information about the investigation despite state rules. Colleton County Sheriff’s Office released this one-line statement Tuesday
‘It is their most sincere hope that someone will come forward and cooperate with authorities so that the perpetrator of these senseless crimes can be brought to justice.’
Paul’s family connections are believed by some in the local community to have landed him with softer treatment from prosecutors.
There are now growing concerns the family’s powerful role in the county’s legal system could jeopardize the current murder investigation and the search for the killer or killers.
The sheriff’s office handed the case to SLED last week due to the Murdaugh family ties to the 14th Circuit solicitor’s office, according to The Post and Courier.
Alex works as a part time prosecutor for the office.
On Thursday, Richard Murdaugh III – Paul’s grandfather and Margaret’s father-in-law, died aged 81 from an unspecified illness
Three generations of the family – Alex’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather – ran the office consecutively from 1920 through 2005.
There was a brief gap in 1995 when Buster Murdaugh was accused of helping moonshiners evade authorities.
It is now headed up by non-family member Duffie Stone.
However, the 14th Circuit solicitor’s office is still involved with the investigation and has not handed off the case, reported The Post and Courier.
Funerals were held Friday for Paul and Margaret. Hundreds including public officials gathered for the service as they were laid to rest in Hampton Cemetery.
Alex and Margaret also had another son named Buster.
As well as dominating the 14th Circuit solicitor’s office, Randolph Murdaugh also founded law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick in 1910.
The Murdaugh family’s power has helped them accrue vast amounts of wealth in the county, including owning more than 1,700 acres of land including the hunting lodge where the double murders took place.
They have been struck by other tragedy in the past with Randolph killed when a freight train hit his car.