Police arrest suspect in the shooting of South Carolina legal scion Alex Murdaugh


South Carolina legal scion Alex Murdaugh orchestrated his own shooting in a botched scheme for his surviving son to collect a $10 million life insurance payment, investigators say.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) confirmed on Tuesday that an alleged accomplice in the scheme had been arrested, after Murdaugh admitted to attempting to kill himself with the help of a hitman.

Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was arrested on charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. 

Smith is a former client of Murdaugh, who represented him in minor traffic matters as well as a 2015 lawsuit that Smith filed against a forest management company. 

‘Mr. Murdaugh provided a statement to SLED admitting to the scheme of having Mr. Smith murder him for the purpose of his son collecting a life insurance policy valued at approximately ten million dollars,’ the agency said in a statement. 

Murdaugh, who is in rehab for opioid addiction and under investigation for allegedly misappropriating millions from his law firm after the brutal murder of his wife and son, has not yet been arrested or charged. SLED says further charges are expected in the case. 

The arrest comes as a stunning twist in the tale of the Murdaugh clan, which gained national attention following the fatal shooting of Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and 22-year-old son, Paul at the family’s hunting lodge on June 7 in a case that remains unsolved. 

Paul and Maggie (together left) were shot dead on June 7. Now police say that Alex Murdaugh (center) orchestrated a separate shooting to kill himself with the help of a hitman, in a scheme to deliver a $10 million life insurance payout to his other son Buster (right)

Paul and Maggie (together left) were shot dead on June 7. Now police say that Alex Murdaugh (center) orchestrated a separate shooting to kill himself with the help of a hitman, in a scheme to deliver a $10 million life insurance payout to his other son Buster (right)

Exclusive DailyMail.com photos show Richard Alexander 'Buster' Murdaugh Jr. at the family's Edisto Island property in South Carolina on Monday. Buster is Alex Murdaugh's sole surviving heir after the murder of his brother Paul in June

Exclusive DailyMail.com photos show Richard Alexander ‘Buster’ Murdaugh Jr. at the family’s Edisto Island property in South Carolina on Monday. Buster is Alex Murdaugh’s sole surviving heir after the murder of his brother Paul in June

Investigators work the scene where Alex Murdaugh was shot in the head and injured on Sept. 4, 2021 after he had car trouble on a rural road in in Hampton County, S.C.

Investigators work the scene where Alex Murdaugh was shot in the head and injured on Sept. 4, 2021 after he had car trouble on a rural road in in Hampton County, S.C.

Murdaugh claims to have an ‘iron clad alibi’ for the night of his wife and younger son’s murder, saying he was visiting his father in the hospital, just days before the father’s death of cancer. 

Murdaugh’s surviving son, 25-year-old Richard Alexander ‘Buster’ Murdaugh Jr, was spotted by DailyMail.com on Monday at the family’s Edisto Island property in South Carolina.

Buster, the sole surviving heir to his father’s South Carolina legal dynasty, was apparently supposed to receive the insurance payout from his father’s death in the botched scheme alleged by investigators. 

Buster refused to answer DailyMail.com’s questions when approached but did acknowledge that he had spoken to his father in recent days.

He would not say when he saw his father last, what he thought would happen next or answer any questions about Murdaugh’s injuries or recovery.

He said, ‘I have no interest in commenting on any of y’all’s questions.’

Buster, 25, refused to answer DailyMail.com's questions when approached but did acknowledge that he had spoken to his father in recent days

Buster, 25, refused to answer DailyMail.com’s questions when approached but did acknowledge that he had spoken to his father in recent days

Murdaugh is seen with his wife and son Paul, who were shot dead at the family hunting lodge on June 7. Police say Murdaugh orchestrated a separate shooting on September 4, hiring a hitman to kill himself in a plot to get an insurance payout for his surviving son

Murdaugh is seen with his wife and son Paul, who were shot dead at the family hunting lodge on June 7. Police say Murdaugh orchestrated a separate shooting on September 4, hiring a hitman to kill himself in a plot to get an insurance payout for his surviving son

Alex Murdaugh, 53, who hails from one of South Carolina’s most prominent legal families, was shot in the head and injured on September 4 while changing a car tire by the side of a road in Hampton County.

According to Murdaugh’s account, a truck passed him then circled back outside St John Baptist church on Old Salkehatchie Road next to where he was parked up. Murdaugh told officers that the driver wound down his window and shot at him. 

Murdaugh said he was alone at the time of the incident, but managed to dial 911 after being struck by the bullet. He was subsequently airlifted to hospital where he underwent treatment before being released. 

The roadside shooting came just days after Murdaugh resigned from his law firm Peters Murdaugh Parker Elztroth Detrick (PMPED) over claims that he had misallocated millions of dollars. 

Following the roadside shooting, Murdaugh said he was seeking treatment for drug addiction. 

On Monday, SLED announced that it had opened a criminal investigation into Murdaugh over the alleged missing law firm funds, the latest twist in the family’s tragic and strange saga. 

In making the announcement SLED Chief Mark Keel said, ‘As Chief of SLED, I continue to urge the public to be patient and let this investigation take its course.’ 

Murdaugh was changing the tire on his car on this rural road in Hampton County when someone shot him from a passing car, according to his attorney

Murdaugh was changing the tire on his car on this rural road in Hampton County when someone shot him from a passing car, according to his attorney

It was Murdaugh who made the frantic 911 call shortly after 10pm June 7 in which he told the dispatcher that he had returned home to the gruesome scene of his dead wife and son’s bodies near dog kennels on the property.

In what appeared to be a nod to growing impatience over the lack of any suspect or information on either Maggie and Paul or Alex’s shootings, Chief Keel noted, ‘Investigative decisions we make throughout this case and any potentially related cases must ultimately withstand the scrutiny of the criminal justice process.

‘As with all cases SLED is committed to conducting a professional, thorough and impartial criminal investigation, no matter where the facts lead us.’

Murdaugh last week had his license to practice law revoked by the South Carolina Supreme Court, indefinitely.

Three generations of Murdaughs have served as solicitor for the state’s 14th Circuit Court, the equivalent of a district attorney. 

The shocking turn of events has catapulted the family back into national headlines following the brutal slaying of Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, 52, and son, Paul, 22, on June 7. 

It was Alex Murdaugh who discovered his wife and son’s bodies near dog kennels on the property and called 911 shortly after 10pm that evening.

According to investigators mother and son were killed between 9 and 9.30pm. Paul suffered fatal shotgun wounds to the head and torso. His mother was killed with a semi-automatic rifle.

Murdaugh was visiting his sick father in hospital on the night of the shooting – Randolph Murdaugh III died three days later after a long battle with cancer.

What little information has emerged since, has only served to deepen the mystery surrounding the events on the Islandton estate in June.

Moselle Hunting Lodge where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were gunned down June 7. Their bodies were discovered by Murdaugh by the dog kennels

On June 7, Alex Murdaugh (right) discovered his son Paul and wife Maggie (center) dead at the dog kennels on the family property

On June 7, Alex Murdaugh (right) discovered his son Paul and wife Maggie (center) dead at the dog kennels on the family property 

At the time of their deaths Paul was facing charges over the death of friend Mallory Beach, 19, who died in a boat crash back in February 2019. 

Mallory died when Paul, ‘intoxicated’ and ‘belligerent’ ploughed his father’s boat into a piling in Archers Creek after an afternoon of drinking at an oyster roast.  

Paul was one of six teenagers described by police as ‘grossly intoxicated’ that night. He was awaiting trial on three felony counts of boating under the influence, including boating under the influence resulting in death, a charge which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

He had been released on a $50,000 bond pending his trial. All charges were dismissed two months after his death but the wrongful death suit being brought by Mallory’s mother, Renee, is still being pursued.

Buster is named as it was his license that Paul used to purchase the alcohol that night – a practice which, lawyers for Beach allege, was both common and done with Buster’s knowledge.

Mallory Beach, 19, was killed in a fatal boating accident in February 2019 when Paul, 'intoxicated' and 'belligerent' ploughed his father's boat into a piling in Archers Creek

Mallory Beach, 19, was killed in a fatal boating accident in February 2019 when Paul, ‘intoxicated’ and ‘belligerent’ ploughed his father’s boat into a piling in Archers Creek

Last week DailyMail.com revealed that Murdaugh’s insurance company Philadelphia Indemnity have refused to pay out on two personal injury policies to the tune of $6million.

According to court records seen by DailyMail.com Indemnity found that they had ‘no obligation’ to defend or indemnify Murdaugh or his older son for a host of reasons.

The company stated that Murdaugh, ‘had knowledge or should have had knowledge that his minor son illegally purchased and consumed alcohol on a regular basis by using or displaying the driver’s license of his adult son, Murdaugh Jr.’

They continued, ‘It was foreseeable that Murdaugh’s son would purchase alcohol for consumption by other minors and would then become intoxicated.’

Attorneys for Beach have since filed yet more paperwork in the wrongful death suit stating their intention to come after Murdaugh’s two properties – the hunting lodge and the Edisto Island beach house at which Buster busied himself Friday afternoon.

Neighbors at the waterside enclave recalled the Murdaughs as a family who ‘kept themselves to themselves’ during their summers at the beach home. One who knew Maggie described her as simply, ‘wonderful.’

Throughout this turmoil older son Buster has remained entirely hidden, but DailyMail.com recently revealed that he and a woman believed to be a family member arrived at the family’s beach home early afternoon Friday.

The investigation continues.  



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