On the surface he had it all.
He was a high-powered attorney who ran both his own law firm and worked in the local prosecutor’s office.
He was the son of a powerful legal dynasty that dominated the local South Carolina community for almost a century.
He was a family man with a wife and two adult sons.
On Tuesday, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) met with surviving members of the Murdaugh family and notified them that the 53-year-old will be charged with Maggie and Paul’s murders.
In two days’ time, evidence of the killings will be presented before a grand jury.
It’s the most damning accusation to date but one of a steady slew that have erupted over the last year against Mr Murdaugh.
According to law enforcement, he is a fraudster who embezzled millions of dollars from his clients.
He is someone who paid a hitman to shoot him dead so that his surviving son would land an insurance windfall.
He is an opioid addict who has left his family’s finances in tatters and who is mysteriously surrounded by other unexplained deaths.
With each scandal more bizarre than the last, here’s what you need to know:
Murder of wife and son
The twisted tale began on 7 June 2021 when Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found shot dead in a brutal double murder at the family’s sprawling hunting lodge in Islandton, South Carolina.
It was high-profile attorney Mr Murdaugh who claimed he discovered their bodies, placing a dramatic 911 call that night where he cried and sobbed down the phone.
He claimed that he had returned home from visiting his dying father to find his wife and son by the kennels on the property, both suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
The call, previously released by investigators, was made at 10.07pm local time.
The coroner placed the time of death for the two victims between 9pm and 9.30pm.
In the audio, Mr Murdaugh is heard sobbing as he tells the dispatcher “it’s bad” and “my wife and child have been shot badly”.
When asked if his loved ones are breathing, he responds no and urges them to “please hurry”.
Mr Murdaugh also tells the dispatcher that he hasn’t seen anyone on the property.
It later emerged that two different weapons – a rifle and a shotgun – were used to kill the victims.
For the last 13 months, no arrests have ever been made, no suspects named and no charges brought over their killings.
Mr Murdaugh’s attorney previously admitted that the 53-year-old husband and father was a person of interest in their murders but insisted that his client was innocent.
No other persons of interest were ever named.
His family rallied around him, with his brothers appearing on Good Morning America insisting his innocence.
One year on, John Murdaugh told The Post and Courier that he had been told his brother would now be charged with the killings.
“The entire family has been consistent that regardless of what goes on, we want the truth,” he said.
The Independent has reached out to the SLED for further information.
No motive is known.
At the time of their deaths, Maggie was reportedly living apart from her husband at the time of her murder and had been speaking with divorce attorneys.
Paul, meanwhile, was facing trial for the boating death of a 19-year-old woman.
Botched hitman plot
Three months after their murders – on 4 September – Mr Murdaugh was shot on the side of a road in Hampton County.
He survived and called 911 claiming he was ambushed in a drive-by shooting while he was changing a tire on his vehicle.
He was treated at a hospital for what police called a “superficial gunshot wound to the head”.
But his story quickly unravelled.
One day after the shooting, Mr Murdaugh entered rehab for a 20-year opioid addiction and announced he had resigned from his law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, & Detrick (PMPED).
Days later, his law firm partners accused him of stealing millions of dollars from its clients going back years.
The partners had confronted Mr Murdaugh about the allegations and ousted him from the firm just one day before the shooting.
Mr Murdaugh’s version of events rapidly fell apart and, on 13 September, he confessed to police to paying an alleged hitman to shoot and kill him in an assisted suicide plot so that his surviving son Buster could get a $10m life insurance windfall.
He admitted that he had paid a former client of his Curtis Smith, 61, to carry out the shooting.
Both men were arrested and charged over the incident.
Mr Murdaugh was then released on bond on the promise that he enter rehab for his opioid addiction.
Mysterious death of housekeeper
On his release from rehab one month later, Mr Murdaugh was dramatically arrested on charges of stealing funds from the wrongful death settlement over the mysterious trip and fall death of the family’s longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield in 2018.
Mr Murdaugh is accused of siphoning off $3.4m of the $4m settlement meant for Satterfield’s sons to a fake company called Forge.
Questions have been swirling around Satterfield’s death ever since and investigators reopened a probe into her death.
Earlier this year, officials announced plans to exhume her body.
Satterfield worked for the influential Murdaugh family for more than 20 years when she was found at the bottom of some stairs at the family’s home.
She died weeks later from her injuries.
At the time, her death was regarded as an accidental fall – though her death certificate cited her manner of death as “natural”.
Mr Murdaugh reached an agreement to pay her family $4m in a wrongful death settlement – but they never received a dime of the money.
Mr Murdaugh is now accused of swindling from his insurance company to help fund his drug habit.
But as Mr Murdaugh’s name hit headlines, the Hampton County coroner Angela Topper asked the SLED to reopen an investigation into her death.
“The decedent’s death was not reported to the Coroner at the time, nor was an autopsy performed,” Ms Topper wrote.
“On the death certificate the manner of death was ruled ‘Natural,’ which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident.”
‘Misappropriated funds’ charges
Mr Murdaugh is already facing a staggering 79 charges from 15 indictments around the suicide-for-hire plot, a scheme to defraud the Satterfield family and scams to defraud dozens of other victims out of millions of dollars.
In total, he is accused of stealing nearly $8.5m from settlements from more than a dozen clients who he represented through his law firm.
The plots involved Mr Murdaugh negotiating wrongful death and other settlements for his clients and then stealing the money for himself, according to prosecutors.
The alleged schemes date back as far as 2011 – more than a decade before he was ousted by his law firm and slapped with charges.
One of the alleged victims was a man whose wife died in a car wreck in 2013, say prosecutors.
Mr Murdaugh is accused of stealing 14 settlement checks totaling $1.3m from the man.
Other mystery deaths
At the time of Paul’s killing, the 22-year-old was due to stand trial over the death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach in a 2019 boat crash.
Paul was allegedly drunk driving a boat when he crashed it, throwing his friend Ms Beach to her death.
He was charged with boating under the influence and faced up to 25 years in prison but was killed before his trial, with rumours instantly swirling that the incident was in some way connected to Paul’s death.
An investigation has also been reopened into a third mystery death connected to the Murdaugh family.
Stephen Smith, 19, was found dead in a road from blunt force trauma to the head in 2015.
His death was officially ruled a hit-and-run but the victim’s family have long doubted this version of events and said that rumours swirled in the community that a “Murdaugh boy” may have been involved.
Decades-long opioid addiction
Mr Murdaugh’s attorney Richard Harpootlian dramatically revealed last fall that his client has struggled with a decades-long addiction to drugs and that this played a role in his attempted suicide.
“For the last 20 years, there have been many people feeding his addiction to opioids.
“During that time, these individuals took advantage of his addiction and his ability to pay substantial funds for illegal drugs,” Mr Harpootlian said in a statement.
“One of those individuals took advantage of his mental illness and agreed to take Alex’s life, by shooting him in the head.”
Who are the Murdaughs?
Prior to the dramatic fall from grace, Mr Murdaugh was a powerful figure in Hampton County.
For almost a century, his family members have reigned over the local justice system with his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all serving as the solicitor in the 14th Judicial Circuit solicitor’s office.
His father died just days after Maggie and Paul’s murders.
Disgraced legal scion Alex Murdaugh laughs that he has ‘allegedly done illegal stuff’ in jailhouse phone call
Meanwhile, Mr Murdaugh’s now only surviving son Buster has stood by his father throughout the flurry of accusations that have come to light.
Chilling audio from a jailhouse phone call with Buster emerged in June where Mr Murdaugh laughed that he has “allegedly done illegal stuff”.
In the phone call, Buster is heard acknowledging that his father has done “illegal s***” as they discuss a search warrant that he believes was improperly served on Mr Murdaugh while he was behind bars.
“Well, I think it does matter, man… I mean, something’s got to give,” he says.
“I understand that you’ve done illegal s***. But it doesn’t mean you can just, you know, turn a cold shoulder to the laws of the United States.”
At that point in the call, Mr Murdaugh – who is also facing charges for allegedly orchestrating a botched hit on himself – makes an unsettling joke about his alleged crimes.
He laughs and says to his son: “Allegedly done illegal stuff.”
It now remains to be seen if Buster will stick by his father when he is charged over his mother and brother’s murders.