The Shocking Saga of the Murdaughs of South CarolinaBreaking News
tags: Southern history, South Carolina, true crime
You can’t make this stuff up, people say, when a tale seems too crazy — or awful — to be true. Here in South Carolina, where storytelling is a time-honored ritual bound to front porches and swampy nights, it’s a common refrain, even if everybody knows that stories of local origin rarely need embellishment.
But few can rival the shocking events of summer 2021 and the unfolding saga of the Hampton, S.C., Murdaugh family, a powerful legal dynasty featuring generations of prosecutors who’ve tried seemingly every case in a five-county area for nearly a century.
Today, the family is deeply embroiled in two mysterious homicides, allegations of massive theft and a multidimensional tragedy, no matter what happens next. Throughout the state, and apparently elsewhere, one can hardly wait for the next turn of the screw.
Local curiosity isn’t driven by morbid fascination — or even the schadenfreude that the Murdaughs have invited upon themselves. Two people are dead, after all. It’s The Story itself that has people obsessed — and I don’t use that term lightly. The Story has assumed a life of its own.
At the center of it all is Alex Murdaugh, 53, the now-resigned lawyer whose wife, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and 22-year-old son, Paul, were murdered on June 7 at the family’s hunting compound a few miles from town. Alex said he discovered their bodies upon returning to the compound. Both had been shot multiple times. In a recording of his 911 call, Alex said that his wife and son needed urgent attention and had been shot “badly.”
“Badly” doesn’t cover it. Death, especially by violence, tends not to be coy. The police reports gave rise to questions in the papers, online and at about every Carolina dinner table from the coast to the foothills. “Wild” has been the only way to describe it.
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