A prominent South Carolina lawyer whose wife and son were murdered—and who then reported being shot in the head over the weekend—was accused Monday night of stealing from his law firm.
It was a dizzying turn of events in a saga that has gripped rural Hampton County—where Alex Murdaugh’s family has held sway for decades—and made headlines across the country. While the law firm declined to comment on how much Murdaugh allegedly stole, two people associated with the South Carolina legal community told The Daily Beast that the amount is over a million dollars.
“It’s a lot of money, that’s all I know,” one source said.
The drama stretches back to June when Murdaugh’s wife, Margaret, 52, and his son, Paul, 22, were found shot to death near the hunting dog kennels at the family estate.
It took a twist this weekend when Murdaugh called 911 and reported he had been shot in the head by a mystery trucker while changing a flat tire on a back road.
On Monday, Murdaugh issued a surprise statement saying that he was quitting the law firm his great-grandfather founded a century ago and entering rehab. On Tuesday, Murdaugh’s spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Beast that the father-of-two was “in rehab currently,” but declined to provide details about the facility or the nature of the program.
His attorney, Jim Griffin, told The State his client entered a drug treatment center to care for his substance abuse. Citing sources, the outlet said the substance was oxycodone.
“The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret,” Murdaugh said. “I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated by these murders.”
“I am immensely sorry to everyone I’ve hurt, including my family, friends, and colleagues. I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself and my relationships,” he said.
What Murdaugh, 53, did not mention was that he had been forced out of the firm, Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth Detrick, on Friday amid allegations of theft.
“His resignation came after the discovery by PMPED that Alex misappropriated funds in violation of PMPED standards and policies,” the firm said in a statement Monday evening.
“A forensic accounting firm will be retained to conduct a thorough investigation. Law enforcement and the SC Bar have been notified by PMPED. This is disappointing news for all of us. Rest assured that our firm will deal with this in a straightforward manner.”
In South Carolina, any attorney that is accused of any misconduct is investigated and sanctioned by the state’s court system. A court spokesperson on Tuesday, however, declined to say whether the Commission on Lawyer Conduct has opened a case into Alex Murdaugh.
Murdaugh’s attorney confirmed to The New York Times that his client left in response to the accusations and that police knew about them before the alleged shooting. Griffin added that Murdaugh felt “regret and sorrow” over his departure.
Meanwhile, details about the Saturday shooting remain scant.
Murdaugh’s attorney told reporters that his client was on his way to Charleston and had stopped to change a tire when a trucker he had passed on the road doubled back and opened fire.
The wound was superficial, police said, but Murdaugh was flown to a hospital in Georgia for treatment. His family put out a statement that referenced the tragedy he had suffered.
“The Murdaugh family has suffered through more than any one family could ever imagine. We expect Alex to recover and ask for your privacy while he recovers,” the statement said.
That was a reference to the murders of Maggie and Paul, whose bodies were found by Alex Murdaugh on the 1,700-acre estate. At the time, Paul was facing charges for allegedly killing Mallory Beach in a drunken boating accident in 2019, though it’s not known if the two incidents are related.
Alex Murdaugh and his son, Buster, have offered a $100,000 reward in the double homicide, but no arrests have been made.
Mark Tinsley, a lawyer representing the Beach family, told The Daily Beast that he had spoken to his clients after the weekend’s events—but they remain focused on their pending civil case in Mallory’s death.
“We are just sitting, waiting, trying to figure out what is going on like the rest of the world,” Tinsley said.
Murdaugh worked for PMPED with his brother, Randolph Murdaugh IV. Their father, Randolph Murdaugh III, was also a partner until his death from natural causes in June, just after the double homicide; he had also served as the solicitor of the 14th Circuit, the chief prosecuting agency in the area, as his father and grandfather had done before him.
One Hampton County resident, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of professional retribution, told The Daily Beast on Monday that “the whole state is talking about Alex Murdaugh.”
“The family is royalty around here—and their demise these last few years is all anyone seems to be talking about,” the resident said.
While he added that he was glad Murdaugh did not sustain life-threatening injuries in Saturday’s shooting, the resident added that the story of how the 53-year-old got shot “seems to be missing a few details.”
“The whole investigation into his wife and son’s murder has been so top secret. Adding in this Saturday incident—someone better start talking.”