Alex Murdaugh’s alleged insurance schemes continue to unfold. The prominent South Carolina attorney, charged with hiring a hitman to kill him so his son could claim the insurance money — and whose wife and son were shot outside his house in an unsolved killing in June — is facing new charges. This time, he’s been accused of stealing insurance money from the sons of his late housekeeper, who died mysteriously on his property, authorities announced Thursday.
Murdaugh was taken into custody Thursday morning after being released from a drug rehab facility in Orlando. He was charged with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses and will appear in court on Friday.
Murdaugh’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, died in 2018 after the Murdaughs claimed she tripped over the family dog. The death was never reported to the county coroner, which has prompted a state-police investigation. According to a lawsuit filed in September by Satterfield’s family, her sons hired a lawyer, Cory Fleming, at Murdaugh’s advice, to pursue an insurance settlement, but Murdaugh didn’t tell them the lawyer was a close friend of his.
The family claimed Murdaugh and his lawyer friend arranged a $500,000 settlement, but that he didn’t give any of it to Satterfield’s sons. After filing the suit, the lawyer for Satterfield’s family learned of an additional $4.3 million settlement that Murdaugh never recorded or shared with the family, and turned the information over to state law enforcement. Both Murdaugh and Fleming have had their law licenses suspended. Fleming has said he didn’t know the money had not been given to Satterfield’s sons.
“Today is merely one more step in a long process for justice for the many victims in these investigations,” South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said of Thursday’s arrest. He added that officers will continue working on behalf of people who have been allegedly victimized by Murdaugh. “We will not stop until justice is served,” he said.
The arrest is the latest development in a tangle of sordid activity surrounding Murdaugh, whose ancestors served as elected prosecutors in the region for three generations. He’s a person of interest in the June murders of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul; his family’s legal firm is reviewing its books after asking Murdaugh to resign in September for allegedly misappropriating millions of dollars; and he’s charged with conspiracy to commit insurance fraud for trying to arrange his own death so his surviving son could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy, an act he confessed to. Moreover, state police are investigating a 2019 boating accident involving Paul Murdaugh, who, at the time of his death, had been charged with boating under the influence and causing the death of a 19-year-old woman.
In September, authorities charged Curtis Edward Smith, a former client of Murdaugh’s, with shooting at Murdaugh in an assisted-suicide attempt. In a Today show interview on Thursday, Smith denied pulling the trigger and said the gun went off as he tried to stop Murdaugh from shooting himself.
Murdaugh’s lawyers have said he is cooperating with the investigation into the murders of his wife and son, and intends to cooperate with the investigation into the settlement money following Satterfield’s death.