Just months before he was murdered alongside his mother, Paul Murdaugh, the 22-year-old son of a prominent South Carolina prosecutor, received death threats for his role in a drunken boating accident that left a teen girl dead, family members revealed Thursday.
“I didn’t think it was a credible threat—if it was, I would have tried to do something or notify someone,” John Marvin Murdaugh, one of Paul’s uncles, told Good Morning America in the first family interview since the murders. “But I guess maybe I made a mistake.”
The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office said Paul and his 52-year-old mother, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, were shot “multiple times” between 9 and 9:30 a.m. on June 7 outside their 1,700-acre Islandton home. The pair were found by Richard Alexander Murdaugh Sr., the scion of a prominent legal dynasty in the state, who told investigators he was not home at the time of the shootings because he was helping his ailing father go to the hospital.
“As soon as I answered the phone, I knew something was wrong,” Marvin Murdaugh said, wiping away tears. “[Alex] just told me, ‘Come as fast as you can—Paul and Maggie have been hurt.’”
So far, authorities have not named any suspects or offered a potential motive in the grisly double murder. Local media outlets reported Wednesday that investigators with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which is leading the probe, were seen searching the Salkehatchie River—which is just two miles from the Murdaugh estate. SLED declined to comment on the river search.
“To my knowledge, there is no new information other than our state law enforcement division and the sheriff are working around the clock to get information, following all leads,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said on Fox and Friends Thursday. “It is a tragic, tragic situation.”
“The Murdaugh family is well known and respected, and this is just tragic, starting with the boat accident... It’s just tragedy after tragedy. We hope to get to the bottom of it and find those responsible for these two slayings. There’s no information I have that I can give you,” the Republican lawmaker added.
Paul Murdaugh died as he was awaiting trial for allegedly killing 19-year-old Mallory Madison Beach in a drunken boating accident in February 2019. But while questions continue to swirl about a possible motive, the Murdaughs said Thursday the family had no known enemies.
“I really don’t know of any enemies,” Randy Murdaugh IV, another uncle, told GMA. “You hear of all this talk on social media with regard to Paul, but I don’t know of anybody that would truly be an enemy or would truly want to harm them.”
The uncle then went on to deny allegations that Richard Murdaugh used his legal connections to help his son in his criminal case. Prosecutors allege the 22-year-old drunkenly collided with a bridge piling after an oyster roast. The impact of the crash launched Beach into the water—and her body was not found until a week later.
Paul Murdaugh had pleaded not guilty in May 2019 to one felony count of boating under the influence causing death and two felony counts of boating under the influence causing injury.
“Seeing words like ‘dynasty’ and ‘power’ used... but we’re just regular people,” Randy Murdaugh said Thursday, insisting his family is being wrongly portrayed in the media frenzy. “We’re hurting just like they would be hurting if it happened to them.”
The Murdaugh family has been a powerful force in South Carolina for over a century. According to his bio on the family law firm’s website, the 81-year-old patriarch Randolph Murdaugh III “is the third generation of the Murdaugh family to serve as Solicitor of the 14th Judicial Circuit.” On June 10, just days after the double homicide, Murdaugh III passed away.