Alex Murdaugh’s lawyer says he may know who killed the South Carolina legal scion’s wife and son earlier this year though he does expect his client to be arrested for embezzling funds from a law firm to fuel an addiction to painkillers.
Attorney Dick Harpootlian says that Murdaugh, 53, was addicted to opioids and fell into depression after the deaths of his wife and son when he allegedly hired a hitman to kill him so that his surviving child could collect a $10million life insurance policy.
‘He was in a dark, dark, dark place and he wanted to help his remaining son, Buster, in any way he could,’ Harpootlian says.
‘He thought this was the only way he could leave him with anything.’
Harpootlian says that his client, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head while changing a tire on a rural highway on September 4, hatched the scheme ‘to protect his child’ – 25-year-old Buster Murdaugh.
He also says that the motive for the June 7 murder of his wife, Maggie, 52, and son, Paul, 22, was ‘personal’ and that the identity of the suspect could be revealed sometime this week.
‘It was an attempt on his part to do something to protect his child,’ Harpootlian says of the suicide-for-hire scheme.
‘He didn’t want law enforcement spending time on this fake crime instead of focusing on solving the murders of Maggie and Paul.’
Harpootlian acknowledged that Murdaugh is likely to be arrested for allegedly misappropriating millions from his own law firm.
Alex Murdaugh’s lawyer, Dick Harpootlian (left), says he knows who killed the South Carolina legal scion’s wife and son earlier this year though he does expect his client to be arrested for embezzling funds from a law firm to fuel an addiction to painkillers. Murdaugh is seen right with his late wife, Maggie
Paul and Maggie (together left) were shot dead on June 7. Police say 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) as the elder Murdaugh faced investigation over misallocated funds
Harpootlian told TODAY that he and another lawyer visited Murdaugh at an out-of-state detox facility on Monday.
He said it was the first time he and the other lawyer, Jim Griffin, spoke to Murdaugh ‘when he wasn’t on opioids of Oxy (oxycodone).’
‘He clearly knew that what he had done was wrong,’ Harpootlian told NBC’s TODAY on Wednesday.
Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was arrested on Tuesday on charges of assisted suicide in the alleged insurance fraud scheme
Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was arrested on Tuesday charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Smith, from Walterboro, South Carolina, is a former client of Murdaugh, 53, who represented him in minor traffic matters as well as a 2015 lawsuit that Smith filed against a forest management company.
According to police, Murdaugh paid him to shoot him in the head and kill him, making it look like a random, drive-by attack.
But the plan failed as the shot only grazed his head, according to state police.
On June 7, the bodies of Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and her son Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found by Alex Murdaugh at their South Carolina home.
Alex Murdaugh immediately identified himself on the 911 call and told the operator his ‘wife and child have been shot’ near dog kennels on his property.
‘I’ve been up to it now. It’s bad,’ Murdaugh said.
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.
During the 911 call, dogs could be heard barking in the background and Murdaugh sounded deeply upset and agitated.
He told the operator several times that neither his son or wife was breathing.
No arrests have been made.
Harpootlian adds ‘The murder of his wife and son 90 days ago took a tremendous toll on him.’
The lawyer denied that Alex Murdaugh had anything to do with the deaths of his wife and son.
‘He did not murder them. He is totally distraught about their deaths,’ Harpootlian tells NBC’s TODAY.
The lawyer says that in the time he has spent with the family, they were ‘affectionate’ with each other and that there was no indication Alex Murdaugh wanted to do them harm.
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
Harpootlian also claims that he and Griffin are pursuing leads and have gathered information that may implicate a suspect in the June killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.
The attorney says that he and Griffin have zeroed in on ‘an individual or individuals we believe – may – have some culpability’ or had carried out the murder.
‘We think we’ll know this week whether the one suspect we’re looking at bears further scrutiny and we’ll make that information available to law enforcement,’ Harpootlian says.
When asked what motive this individual may have had in killing Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, Harpootlian says: ‘Well, that would reveal who that person is, but it’s personal.’
‘The motive would be personal.’
Harpootlian says that his client used ‘the vast majority’ of the funds that he is alleged to have embezzled from his law firm ‘to buy drugs.’
The attorney says that he made Alex Murdaugh available for interviews with South Carolina law enforcement.
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
According to Harpootlian, Alex Murdaugh told investigators that he wrote personal checks to ‘drug dealers’ to obtain the painkillers.
The lawyer says that he left a paper trail that law enforcement officials are now looking at.
When asked if he expects Alex Murdaugh to be arrested, Harpootlian replies: ‘Yes, I think he will be charged.
‘But what he doesn’t want – and we don’t want – is an effort to deal with these issues [which] distract from law enforcement resources that could be used to solve the murders of Maggie and Paul.’
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was awaiting trial on a charge of boating under the influence causing death in a February 2019 crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
Whether local law enforcement agencies tried to obstruct the investigation into the boating death is also being reviewed by state officials.
Alex Murdaugh’s father, Randolph Murdaugh III, died of cancer the same week that Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were found dead, according to Harpootlian
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
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.
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.
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
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.
TIMELINE OF MURDAUGH FAMILY MURDERS, DEATHS, LAWSUITS AND ARRESTS
Cops investigating the double murder have also reopened the case into a 2015 hit-and-run of teen Stephen Smith
Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Sattlerfield dies
Mallory Beach, 19, died in February 2019
2015: Teenager Stephen Smith dies
Smith was found on the side of the road.
Police officially rule his death a hit-and-run but he had suffered blunt force trauma to the head
His mother has since shared her belief that she thinks he was killed in a hate-crime because he was gay
Case notes obtained by DailyMail.com revealed Paul’s older brother Buster was named multiple times in the investigation.
Police wanted to know more about his relationship with Stephen
Stephen’s mother said he had been having a ‘fling’.
In a deposition years later, one of Paul’s friends said the family had ‘covered’ other killings up.
He mentioned Smith’s death.
2018: Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield dies
Gloria died after ‘falling’ down the stairs in the family house
The family gave her family $500.000 in a wrongful death settlement but it’s unclear why her death was ruled to be their fault.
Alex Murdaugh was listed as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Satterfield was only 57 when she died.
She left behind a husband and children.
Her death was also mentioned in the deposition by Paul Murdaugh’s friend.
2019: Mallory Beach dies being thrown from boat driven by Paul Murdaugh
Paul was charged afterwards because he’d been drinking and was behaving ‘belligerently’ that night.
He had been released on bond.
Other kids were on the boat but were unharmed.
One testified that they were scared to speak about the Murdaugh family because they knew how to ‘cover things up’.
That boy named Stephen Smith and the housekeeper, and claimed Paul pushed her
June 7 2021: Paul and Maggie are murdered
The mom and son were found shot dead at the family home in Hampton, South Carolina.
Alex Murdaugh says he found them at the home.
The medical examiner said the pair had been dead for an hour at most when he discovered them.
Alex’s son Paul, 22, (left) and wife Maggie, 52, (right) were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds on June 7 at the family hunting lodge
Alex’s father Randolph Murdaugh III died ‘peacefully’ at home three days after Maggie and Paul were found shot dead
June 10 2021: Alex’s 81-year-old father Randolph Murdaugh III dies ‘naturally’ and ‘peacefully’ at home
September 3: Alex resigns from his law firm amid claims he misused funds
The firm has hired a forensic investigator to go through the accounts
September 4: Alex calls 911 claiming he’s been shot in the head in a drive-by.
He only had ‘surface’ wounds and was also able to call his brother
September 6: Alex releases a statement confirming his resignation from the firm and announcing he has entered rehab
Says ‘I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated these murders.’