Newly released stills from bodycam footage show Alex Murdaugh dressed in a “clean” white shirt after he claims he touched the bloodied bodies of his wife and son when he found them shot to death on the family estate in South Carolina.
In two photos, released by Colleton County Court on Friday, Murdaugh is seen at the Islandton property in the wake of the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul.
Mr Murdaugh is wearing a white T-shirt and dark shorts in the pictures. The stills are grainy, but there is no obvious sign of blood on his shirt.
During courtroom testimony Thursday and Friday, several law enforcement officials described how Murdaugh was “clean” and did not appear to have any blood on him when they arrived at the scene of the killing on the night of June 7, 2021.
Still, according to the 911 call from Mr Murdaugh and recordings of his initial police interview played in court, Mr Murdaugh claims he touched the bodies of his wife and son when he found them at the kennels.
Other evidence was also released by the court, including photos of Maggie’s sandals and some shoe prints in the sand at the hangar near the victims’ bodies.
Drone footage was also released by the court, showing the family’s home in relation to the kennels where the victims were killed. The Murdaugh property sits on 1,700 acres of land.
The release of the evidence comes during the second day of testimony at the Colleton County Courthouse murder trial on Friday, where jurors were shown footage of the disgraced legal crop’s first police interview in the wake of the murders.
In the footage, a sobbing Mr Murdaugh was heard telling police twice that he “tried to turn” his son’s bloody body and that he had checked him and his wife for pulses.
“I could see his brain… I ran over to Maggie, actually I think I tried to turn Paul first… um… you know, I tried to turn him, I don’t know, I figured it out , ” he is heard saying.
Murdaugh said his son’s cell phone fell from his pocket when he tried to move him and he handled it briefly.
“His cellphone popped out of his pocket, I started trying to do something with it but I put it down very quickly and then I went to my wife,” he says.
In dramatic testimony, Detective Laura Rutland of the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office contradicted his version of events when she said Murdaugh was “clean from head to toe” with no sign of blood on his body, shirt, shorts or shoes.
Det Rutland was in charge of securing the search warrant at the Murdaugh property that night before she then traveled to the scene and was named the primary liaison with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – the state agency leading the investigation.
When she arrived at the scene, she testified that she noticed Paul’s brain, blood, hair and skull on the ceiling of the kennels. She also saw “fresh shoe prints” on the left side of the hanger building. She said the shoe impressions — flat sandal, flip flop-type shoes — appeared to match the shoes Maggie was wearing.
She told the court how she and another police officer interviewed Murdaugh in a police car around 1 a.m. — about three hours after he had called 911 alerting authorities to the scene. His lawyer was present at the time.
She testified that he told them twice that he had tried to turn Paul’s body and also tried to check both Paul and Maggie’s pulse.
She said she did not say where he checked for a pulse, but in a gripping re-enactment she agreed that if Mr Murdaugh had touched pulse points on Paul’s neck or wrists, he would have been covered in blood.
As jurors have previously heard, the scene was particularly violent and bloody.
Paul had been shot twice – once in the head and once in the chest – with a shotgun while Maggie was shot five times with an assault rifle – with some of the bullets hitting her when she had already fallen to the ground.
Paul’s brain had been shot out of his skull, and both he and Maggie were lying in pools of their own blood.
Rutland testified that she did not see any knee prints or footprints in the blood around any of the victims.
Asked about Mr Murdaugh’s shorts, shoes, hands and so on, she answered each question: “They were clean.”
As the interview was played in court, jurors heard how Murdaugh claimed he had gone to visit his elderly mother who had Alzheimer’s and then returned to find his wife and son not at home.
He said he then went to the kennels and made the grim discovery.
“When I got back here and I pulled up and I could see them,” he is heard saying.
Parts of the audio are inaudible, but he is heard saying it “was really bad” and “I could see it…” before trailing off as he breaks down in tears.
The father and son are heard sobbing inconsolably as he says he saw his son’s “brain”.
When asked how his relationship with his wife was, he claims: “Fantastic”.
Murdaugh suggests to the officers that Maggie and Paul’s deaths may be linked to a fatal boating accident in 2019.
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.
The detective’s testimony supports that given by several law enforcement officials Thursday who said they saw no blood on Murdaugh when they responded to the scene on the night of June 7, 2021.
However, they all described a violent and bloody scene with Paul’s brains separated from his body and both victims lying in pools of blood.
Captain Jason Chapman of the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, who also responded to the scene that day, told the court he saw no visible signs of blood on Mr Murdaugh – which he agreed would have been likely if he had touched their bodies.
In the 911 call, which was played in court Thursday, Murdaugh is also heard telling the dispatcher that he had touched the bodies of his wife and son and suggested they were killed because of the 2019 boating incident.
Colleton County Sheriff’s Sgt Daniel Greene, who was the first officer on the scene of the murders, told the court that Murdaugh “immediately” suggested that his wife and son had been murdered because of the boating accident as soon as he arrived.
“This is a long story. My son was in a boat wreck,” Murdaugh is heard saying on the video camera. “I know that’s what this is.”
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.
Prosecutors say Murdaugh killed his wife and son in an attempt to distract from the other crimes and scandals swirling around him.
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.