Are Opioids Behind Double Murder Suicide?
The story would make a perfect Lifetime melodrama — Old Guard South Carolina dynasty, multiple deaths from various causes, the misappropriation of millions, and the possible upending of a distinguished law firm. In fact, this tale has enough melodrama to make an entire series. But one question stands out: Were opioids behind the double murder suicide?
Alex Murdaugh blames opioids for the suicide anyway. His own. If not for addiction, claims the would-be victim culprit, he’d never have arranged to have his own drug dealer shoot him in the head. But in his stinking thinking, commissioning his own murder was the only way his remaining son could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy.
Murdaugh apparently was wrong. Suicide wasn’t an exclusion. So he could have killed himself with his own hand and saved everyone the trouble. Perhaps he wouldn’t have missed though. Then he’d really be dead. And the world would be denied the pleasure of attempting to unravel the tangled web of opioids, double murder and suicide.
Were Opioids Behind a Double Murder Suicide?
Alex Murdaugh’s failed murder/suicide attempt is just the latest incident in a very long and bloody tragedy. Earlier this summer, his wife Maggie and son Paul were both murdered on their Colleton County property. Murdaugh, who claims to have been visiting his ailing father at the time of the murders, discovered the bodies. Three days later his father, Randolph Murdaugh III, was dead. The cause was cancer.
There are a couple “accidental” deaths to add to the equation too. Murdaugh’s son Paul was at the wheel of a pleasure craft back in 2019 when it plowed into Archer’s Creek bridge and threw 19 year-old Mallory Beach to her death. Paul, whose blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, still had open charges against him at the time of his murder. The charges alas were dropped after his death. Not so the civil lawsuit against the Murdaughs, which the Beach family continues to pursue.
The year prior to that Alex Murdaugh paid $500,000 to the estate of Gloria Satterfield, who died after a “trip and fall” accident in Hampton. Well, he was court-ordered to pay anyway. At the time of Alex’s shooting the longtime Murdaugh housekeeper’s children were still waiting to collect on the wrongful death settlement.
Furthermore, back in 2015, 19 year-old Stephen Smith was found dead on a Hampton County back road. We don’t know if Stephen Smith is any relation to the Curtis Smith who tried to kill Alex. We do know the South Carolina Highway Patrol report says the Murdaugh name was mentioned multiple times in the subsequent death investigation. And we also know that investigation was reopened due to evidence found during the Murdaugh double murder investigation.
Stephen Smith’s family and friends have always been suspicious about the death of their loved one. He’d never be walking in the middle of the street in the middle of the night, they insist. Not willingly anyway. And if he wasn’t willingly walking down the road that fateful evening, how can his death possibly be ruled a simple hit-and-run?
An Opioid Storybook?
There’s more to the whole story, of course. Much, much more. And it seems to be just the kind of much more that will make this a bona fide opioid storybook. Seems Alex Murdaugh’s long-time opioid addiction didn’t just provoke his near-miss murder/suicide. That’s just the latest. No, it appears Alex also had his hand in the law firm’s proverbial cookie jar. In fact, he just may have reached all the way up to his elbow.
That’s what South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is looking into. That’s right. They want to know whether Murdaugh “misappropriated money from his former law firm, where he was a partner.” The firm, Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick (which has the unfortunate acronym PMPED), has apparently been around for over a century. It’s also apparently extremely Old Guard South Carolina. It’s hard to say for sure. The firm may have been around a long time but their site is extremely short on information. In fact, other than a couple winning boasts, PMPED’s site offers little more than a smattering of superlative-slathered paragraphs (plus that unfortunate hip hop allusion).
Actually PMPED’s Who We Are page does reveal some rather interesting info. (And no, we don’t mean the ridiculous double heading “Pursuers of Justice” or “in times of great need” either.) Seems Alex wasn’t the only Murdaugh with PMPED. Not even close. Both Randolph Murdaugh, III and Randolph Murdaugh, IV long held court with the firm. So does Steven D.”Steve” Murdaugh. And though Randolph the Third just died in June (RIP), the Fourth remains as he has since 1991. It’s a cinch he’ll stay that way too.
A little further research reveals the Murdaughs most likely add a lot of cred. See, up until 2006, one Murdaugh or another served as Solicitor of South Carolina’s 14th Circuit. In fact, a family member had served in that capacity for 87 consecutive years. That’s right. Three generations of uninterrupted Murdaughs. That 87 years of service in one office, by the same family, happens to be the longest in the history of the United States.
You can’t tell us that kind of tenure doesn’t include a multitude of perks. Heck, there’s great weight to be had in the due respect alone.
Anyway, Alex Murdaugh came from that kind of family. And that kind of family can make you a target. Whether you start out as a hard or easy target is inconsequential. At least so far as opioids are concerned. Because once the drugs take over, you become a pushover. And drug dealers love nothing more than a wealthy pushover.
A Near Miss or a Bad Hit?
Why drug dealer Curtis Smith allegedly agreed to help Alex Murdaugh kill himself though is anyone’s guess. Sure, money was probably involved. But money was always probably involved. Why would Smith kill the proverbial golden goose? Perhaps he had second thoughts at the last minute. Just couldn’t kill his meal ticket. And that’s why Murdaugh is still standing. After all, it would seem kind of difficult to miss when you’re pressing a gun against someone’s head.
There are other questions too. Lots of other questions. Like what about the mother and the son? Were they killed in retaliation for Mallory Beach’s death? How about Gloria Satterfield? Did the longtime housekeeper “trip and fall” on her own? If not, why the half million settlement? Did she spend 20 years working in an unsafe place and just not say anything?
PMPED’s missing money is 2+2. Addicts have a tendency to need more money than they have, no matter how much they have. Since Murdaugh survived his own murder/suicide, he’ll get to face charges on a cavalcade of crimes. (The chief justice of South Carolina’s Supreme Court has already issued an order indefinitely suspending his law license.) Only time will tell the composition of that cavalcade.
With Great Gratitude
Healing Properties wholeheartedly thanks WTOC’s Max Diekneite, The New York Times‘ Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, and The State‘s John Monk and Jake Shore, as well as WISTV’s Ray Rivera, Patrick Phillips and Adam Mintzer. Mintzer especially has been consistently covering this sordid story, and we’re especially grateful for his reporting.
We’d also like to thank Chief Mark Keel and SLED, the South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination (the agency behind the state’s Circuit Court Solicitors), and — yes — the firm Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick, as well as the Murdaugh family itself. A firm shouldn’t be blamed for a partner’s addiction, or what comes as a result of said addiction. Neither should the family. And you sure can’t blame South Carolina’s prosecution community, nor those tasked with upholding its laws.
We’d also like to extend our condolences to the Murdaugh family. Losing loved ones is a terrible tragedy, whether it’s murder or addiction or both. And our hearts go out to all who’ve been impacted by this incredibly sad series of unfortunate events.
How about you? Are you suffering from substance abuse? Have you considered suicide? Theft? Would you like some help? Then please give us a ring. We’ll get you sorted, wherever you are and whatever you need.