The Alex Murdaugh shooting case only gets more bizarre

The Alex Murdaugh shooting case only gets more bizarre
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

For those of you who haven’t been following the story of Alex Murdaugh, it’s certainly been a tragic, strange sort of mystery. The prominent lawyer from South Carolina and executive at a major law firm seemed to experience a series of tragedies beginning in June of this year when his wife and 22-year-old son were shot dead near a kennel outside the family’s hunting lodge near Islandton, South Carolina. Then, on September 4, Murdaugh himself was shot in the head during a roadside attack not far from the family home, leading some to ask if the same killer was back to “finish the job.” He survived the attack, however, and was on the way to recovery. But this week, the noted attorney admitted that he had paid a hitman to kill him in this concocted scheme so that his surviving son could collect on a large life insurance policy after he was dead. Both Murdaugh and the shooter are in custody. (NY Post)

Embattled lawyer Alex Murdaugh allegedly orchestrated his own shooting earlier month as part of an elaborate scheme to leave his son with $10 million in insurance cash, authorities said Tuesday.

Murdaugh admitted the deranged plan to investigators on Monday, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Curtis Edward Smith, 61, the alleged gunman who conspired with him in the botched suicide attempt, has been arrested.

The stunning development, which was spelled out in an affidavit released by SLED, finally sheds light on the Sept. 4 roadside shooting in Varnville.

This is quickly turning into one of those tragedies that will inevitably be showing up in “true crime” cable television series for decades to come. On the surface, the Murdaugh family seemed to be the envy of the community, with wealth and success founded from a family law practice that had wielded great influence and power for generations. The idea that someone would just show up on the family estate and murder Alex’s wife and adult son was shocking, to say the least.

But as the investigation dragged on, it appears that suspicions may have been turning toward Alex Murdaugh himself. While there will still need to be a full investigation and whatever court actions prove necessary, the tone of the story has certainly shifted. Someone taking their own life after the loss of their wife and child, while tragic, is probably understandable. But somebody with a large life insurance policy hiring a hitman to shoot them in the head is another matter entirely. More attention will likely turn to what role (if any) Alex Murdaugh may have played in the death of his wife and son.

And what sort of hitman did Murdaugh hire? The guy shows up at the appointed place and time, shoots him in the head at close range, and manages to screw up the job and not even kill him? He’s probably regretting taking the job since Murdaugh dropped a dime on him almost immediately.

The shooter, Curtis Edward Smith, 61, is now facing charges of assisted suicide (which is apparently still a crime there), assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. Prosecutors expect to add more charges later.

So did Alex Murdaugh actually kill his own wife and child? Or at least hire someone (potentially even Smith) to do it for him? He lied to the police about the circumstances of his own shooting before finally coming clean, so he hasn’t presented much of a clean defense up until now. We’ll probably need to wait and see if Smith will turn on his client and provide investigators with more details in exchange for a more lenient sentence. But it’s a curious story to be sure.

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