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What Was Alex Murdaugh's Motive For Killing His Wife And Son?

Alex Murdaugh—the attorney from a prominent South Carolina family who is suspected of committing a staggering number of crimes that were revealed after of a fatal 2019 boat crash—was indicted Thursday for murder. He is accused of killing his wife Maggie and 22-year-old son Paul in June 2021, Slate reports. The documents released by authorities do not present evidence of his motive or how the murders are believed to have taken place, except to say that Maggie Murdaugh was killed with a rifle and Paul Murdaugh was killed with a shotgun. Alex Murdaugh was the person who reported their deaths to police, saying he had discovered them dead on a 1,700-acre hunting property belonging to the family. In February 2019, 19-year-old Mallory Beach was killed when a boat she was riding on that belonged to the Murdaugh family hit a bridge structure at 2 a.m. Witnesses said Paul Murdaugh was driving it and that he was extremely drunk and acting belligerently. In April 2019 Paul Murdaugh was charged with operating the boat while intoxicated.


Alex Murdaugh has been accused of obstructing the investigation into the crash by pressuring witnesses not to reveal Paul’s culpability. He has also since been charged with executing multiple fraud and embezzlement schemes that were ongoing at the time of the crash; these included an alleged attempt to commit insurance fraud in order to benefit from the 2018 death of a housekeeper at one of the Murdaugh family’s properties. One possibility is that Paul and Maggie Murdaugh’s killings were in some way an effort on Alex Murdaugh’s part to prevent authorities who were looking into the boat crash from discovering his elaborate web of other alleged criminal behavior. In September 2021 Murdaugh told police he had been “shot in the head by an unknown assailant while attempting to change a flat tire.” The gunshot wound was only “superficial,” though, and within two weeks Murdaugh had been charged with hiring an acquaintance to carry out the purportedly random head-shooting.