Alex Murdaugh, the South Carolina lawyer whose wife and son mysterious murders in June sparked a fast-paced saga that has dominated national news, was arrested Thursday and charged in connection with a separate matter.
Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED, detained 53-year-old Murdaugh when he was released from a drug rehab facility in Orlando and charged him with two felonies of obtaining property through false pretexts.
The charges stem from allegations that Murdaugh misappropriated settlement funds intended for the children of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died in 2018 after a fall at Murdaugh’s home.
“Today is simply one more step in a long process of justice for the many victims in these investigations,” SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a statement, adding his thanks to his officers for handling the case for four months.
“They will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of those who were victims of Alex Murdaugh and others,” Keel said. “As I have said before, we are committed to following the facts wherever they take us and we will not stop until justice is served.”
Satterfield’s death is one of three in recent years that have drawn scrutiny from investigators and the media after the June murders of Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and Paul Murdaugh, 22.
The housekeeper’s death was listed as “natural” on her death certificate, when the manner should have been “accidental,” according to a coroner.
Satterfield’s sons said Murdaugh induced them to use an attorney, Cory Fleming, who was, unbeknownst to them, one of their old friends, so they could sue their insurer for compensation.
A $ 500,000 settlement was eventually reached, but the children said they never received any money. They later learned of a additional deal of $ 4.3 million What they had never found out about.
Instead, Fleming sent the money to Murdaugh, according to documents his new attorney filed in court.
Fleming has said that Murdaugh led him to believe that the money would go to Satterfield’s children. Earlier this month, he agreed to return all of his legal fees to the children and that the insurer would pay the full limit on his policy.
Murdaugh was arrested in September and charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report after he allegedly orchestrated his own failed murder in order for his surviving son, Buster, to receive a $ 10 million insurance payment. .
He allegedly hired a former client, Curtis Smith, to shoot him on a country road on September 4, but he later survived and told police that a passerby had shot him.
Smith, 61, was stopped and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery, and insurance fraud.
Murdaugh has denied any involvement in the deaths of his wife and son, insisting that he turned himself in for insurance fraud so investigators could focus on their murders.
He subsequently entered rehab for an addiction to oxycodone, something his attorneys say led him to steal large sums of money from his family’s law firm and led to his dismissal in September, as well as the suspension of his driver’s license. attorney.
In addition to Satterfield, investigators are looking into the Murdaugh family’s connections to the 2015 death of Buster’s classmate Stephen Smith, who was found dead on a highway but with little evidence to suggest he was hit by a car.
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was facing charges in connection with the 2019 death of Mallory Beach, a friend of his who had died while allegedly sailing at night while under the influence of alcohol.
An attorney for Alex Murdaugh did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Murdaugh is now being held at the Orange County Correctional Facility in Florida, pending an extradition hearing to South Carolina.
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