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Paul Murdaugh, mother found shot to death outside their Colleton Co. home

The State (Columbia, SC) logo The State (Columbia, SC) 6/8/2021 John Monk, Kacen Bayless, Lana Ferguson, and Jake Shore, The State (Columbia, S.C.)

Jun. 8—Paul Murdaugh, a Hampton man who was charged in the 2019 boat crash that killed a young woman, and his mother were found dead of gunshot wounds Monday night outside their family's home in Colleton County, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

The bodies were found by Alex Murdaugh, husband of Maggie Murdaugh and father of Paul, according to legal sources who did not want to be identified because they are not authorized to disclose the information. Alex Murdaugh told authorities he had been out at the time of shooting and found them when he arrived home, the sources said.

One victim apparently had been shot with a shotgun; the other was killed with what appears to have been an assault rifle, the sources said.

Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey confirmed both Paul Murdaugh, 22, and his mother Maggie, 52, died from gunshot wounds in an apparent homicide. He estimated their times of death to be between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday.

Autopsies are scheduled for Thursday at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

In a statement on its Facebook page posted around noon Tuesday, the Murdaugh law firm confirmed the deaths.

"The Murdaugh family and PMPED (Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick, the law firm's full name) wish to thank everyone for the many calls and condolences in the aftermath of the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh," a statement from the Murdaugh's law firm read. "We ask for your continued patience and prayers through this tragic time."

State police are investigating the double homicide. The Murdaugh family, prominent and well connected throughout South Carolina, are founding members of a storied law firm based in Hampton.

SLED agents went to Moselle Road after 10 p.m. Monday, responding to a 911 call reporting two people dead. They found two victims with "at least one gunshot wound," the S.C. Law Enforcement Division said in a press release.

SLED spokesperson Tommy Crosby said Tuesday that he was not aware of anyone arrested or detained related to the crime but, based on the evidence, SLED does not believe there is a danger to the public.

"SLED is working closely with the Colleton Sheriff's Office," the release said. "If you or someone you know has information regarding this incident, please call the Colleton Sheriff's Office at 843-549-2211 or Crime Stoppers at 888-CRIMESC."

A Murdaugh relative on the porch of a home near the crime scene, between Islandton and Moselle, said Tuesday morning that his family had recently received the news. "Now's not a good time, as you can imagine," he said.

Between 10 and 11 a.m. Tuesday, roughly 12 hours after police had initially arrived at the scene, the property was quiet. No law enforcement vehicles or crime scene tape were visible from the road.

A woman, who declined to be identified but said she lives nearby, said she heard sirens Monday night before discovering first responders had blocked the road to the property.

Paul Murdaugh, of Hampton, was facing three felony counts of boating under the influence. The charges are tied to a boat crash near Parris Island in February 2019 that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach, also of Hampton, and injured others on board.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges in May 2019 and had not spent time in jail. There hadn't been any movement on the criminal case since July 2019, when his bond was modified to allow him to travel.

The family of Mallory Beach, who died in the 2019 boat crash, Tuesday afternoon released a statement through their lawyer, Mark Tinsley.

The Beach statement said: "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. 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," the statement said.

At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh's felony charges were being prosecuted by the S.C. Attorney General's office.

"We obviously cannot proceed with the prosecution, so once we have a death certificate or other acceptable proof, we'll officially dismiss the charges," an Attorney General spokesman said Tuesday.

State Sen. Dick Harpootlian, D-Richland who, with attorney Jim Griffin, was representing Paul Murdaugh in the felony cases, said, "This is a tragic situation, and our prayers are with the Murdaugh family." He and Griffin declined further comment Tuesday.

The Murdaugh family is well known in South Carolina because several members held the elected position of solicitor for the 14th Judicial Circuit, which serves Beaufort, Hampton, Jasper, Allendale and Colleton counties, from 1920 until 2006. Multiple members of the Murdaughs still work at the Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick law firm in Hampton.

The Murdaugh residence, known to locals as Moselle, is a hunting lodge on Moselle Road in Islandton. The address is on the border of Colleton and Hampton counties along the Salkehatchie River.

More than 1,770 acres of property are under Margaret B. Murdaugh's name, according to Colleton County property records. The land spans both counties, with about 870 acres in Hampton and just less than 900 acres in Colleton. A 174-acre parcel on the Colleton side has two buildings, one one-story single family home and one two-story single family home.

Citing the pending investigation, the Colleton County Sheriff's Office denied a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the police report and 911 recordings.

Attorney Richards McCrae, president of a state trial lawyers' group, the S.C. Association for Justice, sent the following statement Tuesday to 1,500 fellow trial lawyers:

"Fellow SCAJ Members: It is with an extremely heavy heart that I write you today to make you aware of a tragedy that occurred in the early morning hours.

"Former SCAJ President ... Alex Murdaugh lost two members of his immediate family in what appears to be a heinous act of violence," McCrae wrote. "While there is an ongoing investigation and it would be improper to speculate any further, please keep Alec, his family, as well as his law partners and their families, in your thoughts and prayers as they go through this extremely difficult and painful time."

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