For decades, Alex Murdaugh and his family ran a legal practice that specialized in personal injury cases in Hampton County, South Carolina.
They made millions from their practice and built their fortunes on an unusually lucrative judicial system. This allowed them to become wealthy, but it also created a legal environment that left clients vulnerable.
“I Did Him So Bad”
One of the most egregious practices of the Murdaugh family involved taking money from clients – or, at least, not paying them back. They were notorious for their shady dealings, which are often bafflingly complex and involve multiple parties tasked with doing the heavy lifting.
In the course of investigating Alex Murdaugh’s numerous criminal transgressions, the law enforcement community has discovered a litany of nifty little tidbits that have the potential to turn this otherwise dull legal saga into an epic showdown over the next several years. The aforementioned shady dealings, the curious number-miscounted and so-called affluent clients, and the ominous black-hole that is the office of the attorney in chief, are just a few of the countless red flags. In a nutshell, the case is a matter of life and death – and, yes, murder.
“I Didn’t Know He Was a Criminal”
It’s been a rough year for Alex Murdaugh. He’s been ensnared in a number of grueling investigations that have thrown his life into turmoil.
While he allegedly killed his wife and son, he also is facing dozens of other charges for alleged financial crimes. He is accused of siphoning money from clients, misappropriating funds from his law firm and more.
During his trial, the prosecution introduced evidence of this, including a former Parker Law Group CFO who testified that she was concerned when Murdaugh stole $1.3 million in fees from clients since 2011.
She said she confronted him on June 7 after she discovered that he had taken money from several accounts he created to hide it from clients. It took her a while to figure out what was going on, but she says he eventually resigned.
“I Didn’t Know He Stole Money from Clients”
For 10 years, Murdaugh allegedly stole money from clients of his former Hampton law firm Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth and Detrick. Lawyers in South Carolina are supposed to have strict financial controls to keep client money safe.
But Murdaugh reportedly had no such rules. Instead, he embezzled $4 million from his former law firm’s Client Trust Account and laundered it for his own personal use, according to the indictments.
In one example, prosecutors say Murdaugh stole an $89,000 settlement check from a quadriplegic man he represented, Hakeem Pinckney. He then diverted the money into a fake bank account called “Forge,” police said.
It was only after a colleague at Murdaugh’s firm spotted this mistake that it began to investigate further. When it discovered that Murdaugh had stolen funds from several other clients, the firm requested his resignation.
“I Didn’t Know He’d Been Arrested”
The Murdaugh family had long held a lot of power and influence in the tiny Hampton County, South Carolina. They were elected prosecutors and the law firm they founded was known for getting life-changing legal settlements in civil cases.
But the Murdaugh family was also notorious for stealing from their clients. Their practice specialized in personal injury litigation and the American Tort Reform Association called it a “judicial hellhole.”
Alex Murdaugh was forced to resign last September from his law firm after prosecutors said he had misappropriated client funds. He entered drug treatment shortly after.
“I Didn’t Know He’d Be Killed”
The case of Alex Murdaugh began to unravel months ago when prosecutors said the law-firm founder was confronted by a colleague about missing funds. That led to him being pushed out of the firm a day before he was allegedly killed, prosecutors told PEOPLE. He later called 911, claiming he had been shot in the head while changing a flat tire on the side of the road. But a passerby reported that the scene looked like a set-up.