The Fall of the Murdaugh Dynasty (Part 1)

Power, Privilege, and Murder


If you have caught even a slight glimpse of the news over the past month and a half, chances are very high that you have heard of the Murdaugh murders. Specifically, the double homicide of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh that former prominent South Carolina Attorney Alex Murdaugh recently was convicted of. The trial lasted 28 days, including 26 days of testimonies from nearly 75 witnesses and Alex himself. The jury was able to reach a guilty verdict across the board in a little less than 3 hours. This uncharacteristically short amount of time the jury used for deliberation was a tell-tale sign of what the verdict was going to be long before this was read aloud. Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences after being found guilty of the murder of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, the murder of his son, Paul Murdaugh, along with two counts of possession of a weapon during a crime. Despite this telling conviction, this story goes a lot deeper than this trial. 

Randolph Sr., Randolph “Buster” Jr., Randolph “Randy” III., and Alex Murdaugh

The Murdaugh Family had been at the top of the legal system serving as district attorneys in the state’s 14th circuit for nearly 90 years before the retirement of Alex’ father in 2006. With this much control, came great power for the Murdaugh family in the state of South Carolina. In recent years, the meaning of this last name has completely changed. Like many historic Southern families, the Murdaugh family used family names when naming their children. As there are a lot of repeat names, it is important to understand the makeup of this family as to not get confused who is being referred to. The dynasty was started by Randolph Murdaugh, Sr. who served as the solicitor from 1920-1940. Next came Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh, Jr. who was the solicitor from 1940-1986. Buster was succeeded by his son Randolph “Randy” Murdaugh, III., Alex’ father, who served from 1986-2006. Buster had three sons, Randolph “Randy” Murdaugh, IV., Richard Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh, and John Marvin Murdaugh, and one daughter, Lynn Murdaugh, but the fall of this dynasty can be credited to Alex. Alex was married to Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh and had two children, Richard Alexander “Buster” Murdaugh, Jr., and Paul Terry Murdaugh.


Security videos show last moments of South Carolina teens before fatal boating trip - Good Morning AmericaMany believe the fall of this dynasty began after the death of 19 year old Mallory Beach. On the night of February 23, 2019, Paul and a few friends had taken the Murdaugh family boat out to go to an oyster roast near Beaufort. On the boat included Paul Murdaugh and his girlfriend at the time, Morgan Doughty, Connor Cook and his girlfriend, Miley Altman, and Anthony Cook and his girlfriend at the time, Mallory Beach. The group oftentimes hung out with each other, but this night was unlike any other time. Before heading out for the oyster roast, Paul went into Parker’s Kitchen gas station where he bought alcohol with his older brother Buster’s ID. As the night went on, they continued to drink and Paul reportedly reached a level of intoxication where everyone on the boat felt unsafe with him driving. Despite pleads to let Anthony drive the boat and get the group back to the Murdaugh’s river house safely, Paul and Connor decide to stop off at a bar to get a few more shots before heading home. Those on the boat have said that this is when Paul truly became unruly and the night took the unforgettable turn. Due to reckless behavior, the boat wrecked the boat into a piling of the Archers Creek Bridge, and Mallory Beach was never seen again. Mallory’s body was found a week later after a large amount of outpouring support from the community and with the help of voluntary search teams. Her death shocked the community and brought the shadiness of the Murdaugh’s consequences of the law into public light.


Head Injury Stephen Smith Sustained Was Consistent With Gunshot Wound, Investigators Said in Case Notes | Inside EditionAlong with the death of Mallory Beach, the family has been involved with two other deaths that have seemingly come with close to no repercussions. In 2015, a former classmate of Buster’s was found in the middle of the road on a rural highway. Although this death was ruled a hit and run by the coroner, many find this hard to believe as there were no stray car parts at the scene and rumors point to Buster Murdaugh having involvement in this death. This case was closed but has recently been reopened after the extensive investigations into the Murdaugh family following the deaths of Maggie and Paul.

In 2018, the family’s longtime housekeeper passed away after reportedly tripping over the dogs and falling down the steps at the family’s Moselle home. At the time of her death, Alex told her sons that he was going to sue himself for wrongful death as his dogs were the ones to trip her and he would then give her sons the settlement. Although a settlement was reached, Gloria’s sons were fully unaware of this and never received a penny of this $4.3 million settlement. This case is also being reopened and her body is set to be exhumed after news that the coroner never investigated this death.

Family of Mallory Beach, 19, reach settlement with Buster Murdaugh, 26, in $50million lawsuit | Daily Mail OnlineOn top of the suspicious outcomes of these cases, the treatment of Paul Murdaugh after the death of Mallory Beach was far from normal. Almost immediately after cops arrived on scene, Paul called his grandfather, Randy Murdaugh, who was known to have kept him out of trouble. Shortly after Randy and Alex arrived at the hospital they told everyone involved it was in their best interest to keep quiet and say they did not know who was driving the boat at the time of the wreck. Despite the attempt at concealing the driver of the boat, Paul was eventually charged with boating under the influence and causing the death of Mallory Beach. Paul was never handcuffed during his bond hearing and his mugshot was taken in the court hallway after his hearing, in his suit, a seemingly very special treatment that many people were far from happy about. Paul had pled not guilty and was out on bond at the time of his death and the charges were dropped 2 month after his death.

A whole lot of people asking me about this Alex Murdaugh trial. I don’t know why they think I’m an expert on it.

— OJ Simpson

While the Murdaugh family was barely holding onto their dynasty after these three deaths, the murders of Paul and Maggie were the final push that knocked them over. Paul and Maggie were murdered on June 7, 2021 and Randolph Murdaugh III passed away on June 10, 2021. Although this may have seemed like the end of all, on September 4, 2021, Alex Murdaugh called police to report a mysterious man shooting him in the head while he was changing his tire on a rural road near Moselle. This was far from the end…