Alex Murdaugh recounted a wild story about a farmhand who claimed to “kill radical Black Panthers” when he was interviewed by police the night of the double murder of his wife and son.
During the second day of testimony at the legal progeny’s murder trial on Friday, jurors were shown footage of his first police interview after he claimed to have found the victims shot to death on the family property in Islandton, South Carolina.
In the footage, Murdaugh is asked by an officer if there is anyone he suspects may be responsible for shooting down his wife Maggie (52) and son Paul (22).
The 54-year-old tells the officer there is no one he is “overly suspicious” of, but suggests police speak to a farmhand he had recently hired to work on the 1,700-acre property.
Murdaugh claims the man had told Paul a “really strange” story just a week before the murders.
“He told Paul a story the other day about how when he was in high school he got into a fight with some black guys and an FBI undercover team observed him fighting these guys,” he says.
“And they put him on an undercover team with three Navy Seals and their job was to kill radical Black Panthers.”
He adds: “Paul was so surprised by it that he recorded it on his phone.”
Murdaugh tells the officers that Paul had “worked with him a lot” and that the story was “really weird”.
However, he says he does not believe the man could be behind the murders, saying it is “so stupid” that he was “embarrassed” to bring it up.
“Now I really don’t think this guy is probably the person,” he says.
Murdaugh says he had spoken to the man on the phone not long before he found his wife and son’s bodies and that he had been acting normal.
“I can’t tell you to anybody that I’m overly suspicious off the top of my head,” he tells police.
During the interview, Murdaugh also told officers that his son had faced numerous “threats” following a fatal boating accident in 2019.
Most of the trouble, he says, came from people he doesn’t think his son knew.
“He went out in Charleston a couple of months ago. And he got a black eye, he says.
At the time of Paul’s death, he was awaiting trial for the death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
Paul was reportedly drunk driving a boat of his friends including Beach in 2019 when it crashed and they were thrown overboard. The rest of the group survived, but Beach’s body washed up days later.
Paul was charged with boating under the influence and faces up to 25 years in prison. He was killed before the trial could continue.
During testimony on Thursday, Colleton County Sheriff’s Sgt Daniel Greene told the court that Mr Murdaugh “immediately” suggested that his wife and son had been killed in the boating accident as soon as he arrived at the scene.
“This is a long story. My son was in a boat wreck,” Murdaugh is heard telling the officer in the video camera that was played in court. “I know that’s what this is.”
He also mentioned the boating accident in the 911 call that alerted police to the gruesome scene.
Murdaugh, the 54-year-old heir to a prominent legal dynasty, is accused of gunning down his wife and son in an attempt to distract from a series of other scandals surrounding him.
He faces life in prison for two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime of violence. Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the time of the murders, Murdaugh was believed to be facing financial ruin from a 20-year opioid addiction and had – a day earlier – been confronted by his law firm PMPED over an alleged multi-million dollar fraud scheme.
Murdaugh is now charged with more than 100 counts from multiple indictments alleging he stole nearly $8.5 million from clients at his law firm in fraud schemes dating back a decade.
The lawyer, who has since been disbarred, allegedly represented clients in wrongful death settlements before pocketing the money for himself.
Alleged victims include family members of Gloria Satterfield, Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper who died in a mysterious trip and fall accident at the family home in 2018.
At the time, her death was seen as an accidental fall – although the investigation was reopened following the murders of Maggie and Paul.
Three months after the murders – on September 4, 2021 – Murdaugh allegedly conspired to pay a hitman to shoot him so that Buster would inherit a $10 million life insurance policy.
The now-deposed lawyer initially claimed he was ambushed in a shooting while changing a tire on his vehicle, but his story quickly unraveled and he confessed to orchestrating the act.
Murdaugh and his alleged co-conspirator Curtis Smith were arrested and charged in the incident.
In addition to the deaths of Beach and Satterfield, questions have also arisen about other mysterious deaths surrounding the Murdaughs.
Stephen Smith, 19, was found dead in the middle of the road in Hampton County, South Carolina. The openly gay teenager had suffered head trauma and his death was officially ruled a hit-and-run. But the victim’s family has long doubted this version of events, and the Murdaugh name appears in several police tips and community rumours.
An inquest was reopened into his death following the murders of Maggie and Paul.