'He's up to something': Alex Murdaugh's wife Maggie texted friend before brutal murder
Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, 54, lured his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, to their family home before she and their son were executed last summer. Paul Murdaugh and Maggie were found dead last year on June 7, at their hunting lodge in Islandton. According to law enforcement, Murdaugh allegedly reached out to his wife Maggie, asking her to meet him at the family's 1,770-acre estate in the small town of Islandton.
According to a law enforcement source close to the investigation, Murdaugh told Maggie that his 81-year-old father, Randolph Murdaugh III, was in failing health and that she needed to see him before he died, PEOPLE Magazine reported. Maggie and Murdaugh's marriage had hit a snag, and she was staying at the family's beach house on Edisto Island, about an hour away from the estate, as per several sources.
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Police sources told PEOPLE that Maggie initially declined to meet Murdaugh at the family home, preferring to meet at the hospital. She eventually agreed to meet at the property, intending to drive Alex to the hospital in her own car. Maggie allegedly messaged a friend on her way to the house, saying that something about her husband's behavior felt "fishy," according to a law enforcement source. She allegedly wrote to a friend, "He's up to something."
When Maggie arrived at the scene, she left her car running and walked to the dog kennels on the estate where her son, Paul, was taking photos of a dog he was watching for a friend. It's unclear what happened next, but Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, were shot and killed near the dog kennels. Authorities say Paul's body was discovered "half in and half out" of a dog kennel. Paul was shot in the chest and head at close range with a shotgun. Maggie was shot several times, including once in the back and again while she was lying on the ground. She was hit with 300 Blackout ammo fired from an AR-style rifle. They were both pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities have not publicly identified the gunman, but Alex Murdaugh, 54, was charged on Thursday, July 14, with two counts of murder and two counts of possessing a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He will be arraigned the following week, PEOPLE reported. South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigators have not revealed what evidence they have, but the law enforcement told PEOPLE that blood spatter allegedly found on Alex Murdaugh's clothes indicates he was at the scene at the time of the murder, rather than visiting his father in the hospital, as he later claimed.
Murdaugh's attorneys have maintained his innocence in a statement. "Alex wants his family, friends, and everyone to know that he did not have anything to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul," his attorneys wrote. "He loved them more than anything in the world." Now disbarred from practicing law, Murdaugh faces more than 85 criminal charges in addition to the murder counts.
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The majority of the charges are for alleged financial crimes, such as stealing money from his law firm, defrauding clients, and computer crimes. Authorities claim he also defrauded his former housekeeper's family of a $4.5 million insurance settlement after she died in a mysterious slip-and-fall accident at his home. Murdaugh made headlines again after the murders of his wife and son when he allegedly attempted to stage his own death so that his only surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, 26, could benefit from a $10 million life insurance settlement. He was charged criminally in connection with the alleged botched suicide-for-hire plot and is currently awaiting trial.
He has pleaded not guilty to all the previous charges. Murdaugh is currently being held on $7 million bond. It's unclear if additional bond will be added with the murder charges.