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The Murdaugh Murders – Violence, Corruption, Power

Written by: Alan Baker 3rd March, 2023

Legal dynasty heir, Alex Murdaugh has been found guilty for the brutal double murder of his wife, Maggie and son, Paul.

Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, were both shot dead at the family’s  1,700-acre property in Islandton, South Carolina, on the night of  June 7th 2021.

No arrests were made for more than a year, until, July 2022, Alex Murdaugh was charged and eventually convicted of their murders. Murdaugh also faces 99 other charges against him for financial crimes dating back several years. He’s accused of swindling more than $8m (£6.6m) from unsuspecting clients.

The law enforcement have been heavily criticised for the way they investigated Maggie and Paul’s murders.

Where did the law enforcement go wrong?

The crime scene:

Experts state how investigators didn’t dust for fingerprints, collect and test blood, or photograph evidence with the angles or clarity needed to study it properly later.

The night of the murders:

The first officer arrived at scene 20 minutes after Murdaugh called 911 when he “returned home” from visiting his ailing mother.

Almost immediately, the local officer realised he was dealing with someone whose family dominated the legal system in neighbouring Hampton County for generations and turned the investigation over to the State Law Enforcement Division.

Following this, it took hours for agents from across the state to get deep into the South Carolina Lowcountry. During that time, family and friends walked around the scene, comforting Murdaugh.

The bodies of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were covered with a sheet, which can absorb fluid. This sheet wasn’t saved, meaning possible hair or DNA from the killer could have been lost. Intermittent rain fell and the runoff from the kennel roof fell on Paul Murdaugh’s covered body.

When state agents arrived, they sent Murdaugh and his entourage to the home. Witnesses testified it hadn’t been searched for weapons or bloody clothes.

They also never took DNA samples off of Maggie’s clothes/dress or from Paul’s clothes.

 

Sara Zapata, a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division forensic scientist, testified that while Paul’s DNA was found on a section of Alex’s shirt, a HemaTrace (testing device used to aid in the possible identification of human blood by detecting the presence of human haemoglobin) test came back negative. Zapata explained that she was not asked to perform the test which detects human blood until the 10th of August, more than two months after Paul and Maggie’s murders.

 

June 8th 2021, the day after:

John Murdaugh, the youngest of the Murdaugh siblings, took the witness stand on Monday afternoon where he told jurors how he cleaned up his nephew’s “blood, brain matter and skull fragments” from the crime scene after law enforcement officials left behind parts of the 22-year-old on the Murdaugh’s Moselle family estate. This then lead to major crime scene contamination issues.

 

The main piece of forensic evidence – Digital forensics:

At this point, there was no clear forensic evidence which linked Alex to the murders, until..

A snapchat video was discovered, just short of a minute long on Paul’s phone starting at 20:44p.m on June 7th, just minutes before Paul and Maggie were shot dead.

The video focuses on one of their dogs and appears to have been recorded at the kennels at their family home. In the background, three different voices can be heard in the footage, and family friends identified those voices as that of Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh.

Alex Murdaugh’s presence there contradicted his assertion to police that he was not at the kennels that night. Murdaugh admitted he lied for the 20 months when he told police, his family and anyone else who asked that he was not at the kennels before he found the bodies of his wife and son there.

 

Despite the failings from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Alex Murdaugh, was found of guilty of shooting dead his wife Margaret and their youngest son Paul.

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