The Harrowing Death Of Mallory Beach That Was Overshadowed By The Murdaugh Murders

On February 23, 2019, Mallory Beach, her boyfriend, Anthony Cook, and their friends Paul Murdaugh, Morgan Doughty, Connor Cook, and Miley Altman went out for a fun night in South Carolina (per ABC7 New York). CBS News describes the then-19-year-old Beach as an ambitious young woman with big dreams. Her aunt Lynn Reavis stated, "Everybody loved her." Her father, Philip Beach, on the other hand, noted that she was excited about the evening's activities. He said (via ABC7 New York), "When she left that night, when I spoke to her before they went out, I knew she was happy." Tragically, Beach never returned home alive.

According to Vox, the group spent the majority of the night partying. Despite being underage, Paul purchased alcohol before the teens went to an oyster roast. They, however, did not drive to the gathering — they took his father's boat. Live 5 News reports that Paul was the son of Alex Murdaugh, a well-known attorney in Hampton County, South Carolina. In fact, the Murdaugh family had deep ties to Hampton County's legal system; three generations were elected prosecutors.

Attorney Ronnie Richter explained to Live 5 News, "They are benevolent kings in Hampton County. They do wonderful things for the community. They're loved. But they're also feared. Because they are the law and as a king — even as a benevolent king — they have the power to smite you."

Three passengers were thrown off the Murdaughs' boat

Per CBS News, the group of five consisting of Mallory Beach, Anthony Cook, Paul Murdaugh, Morgan Doughty, Connor Cook, and Miley Altman left the oyster roast at midnight. Although they had been out for hours, Paul did not want the night to end and drove the boat to Beaufort, South Carolina. Using fake IDs, Paul and Connor headed to a bar while the rest of the group stayed behind. ABC7 New York writes that they both had two shots before returning to their friends and the boat. By all accounts, Paul was allegedly highly intoxicated at this point and acting brash.

Miley later told the authorities (via ABC7 New York), "I could tell he was drunk because he gets drunk a lot, and he just is a whole other person when he's drunk." Nevertheless, Vox notes that Paul made it clear that he was to drive the boat home. CBS News reports that they left the dock at 1:15 a.m. Soon after, Paul became increasingly hostile and aggressive. He argued with his then-girlfriend Morgan and drove the boat erratically. Morgan later revealed that Beach said she was frightened by the ordeal. Suddenly, Paul increased the boat's speed and crashed into the Archers Creek Bridge. Paul, Anthony, and Beach all ended up in the water. Beach, however, never emerged.

Mallory Beach's remains were discovered days later

ABC7 New York reports that Connor Cook called 911 as the frantic young passengers searched for Mallory Beach to no avail. When the police arrived, they noted that Anthony Cook was enraged at Paul Murdaugh. CBS News states that Anthony told an officer on the scene that Paul had been driving the now-wrecked boat at the time of the crash. The publication notes that the teens, minus Anthony — who was desperate to find Beach — were taken to the hospital. Connor suffered a broken jaw, while Morgan Doughty injured her hand. Likewise, they tested Paul's blood and found it was three times over the legal limit.

Per WTOC, a nurse described him as "the most intoxicated and uncooperative of those involved." Meanwhile, Beach's mother, Renee Beach, had hoped her daughter was still alive. She said (via ABC7 New York), "I just kept praying that they would see her on a sand bar or somewhere that just couldn't get to us but she was safe." CBS News writes that the search for Beach involved divers and helicopters. It ended with the discovery of her body eight days later, on March 3, 2019. She had drowned and suffered blunt force trauma. Tragically, this was only the beginning of the Beach family's sorrows.

The Murdaugh family may have interfered with the investigation

ABC7 New York writes that Paul Murdaugh's father, Alex Murdaugh, and his grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh, thwarted the authorities' efforts to speak to him in the hospital after the crash. The publication notes that both were well-acquainted with law enforcement in the area. Per Vox, Alex reportedly discouraged the rest of the group from naming Paul as the driver of the boat to ensure his son's name was cleared. Renee Beach slammed the Murdaughs and said (via ABC7 New York), "That night, I'm worried about finding my child and they're worried about how they're going to cover up Paul driving."

Moreover, CBS News reports that a security guard at the hospital overheard Alex on the phone saying, "She's gone. Don't worry." According to ABC7 New York, Renee decided to sue Alex, Paul's older brother Buster Murdaugh, and the convenience store that sold Paul alcohol. Paul had used his brother's ID to make the purchase. Renee cited fear of a coverup by the Murdaughs as her reasoning for the lawsuit. However, all parties involved denied any wrongdoing. Despite this, Paul faced three felony counts of boating under the influence in April 2019. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Paul Murdaugh died before he went to trial

According to ABC7 New York, Paul Murdaugh awaited trial as a free man for over two years. However, he never got his day in court. On June 7, 2021, Paul, then 22, and his mother, Maggie Murdaugh, were shot to death at Moselle, a Murdaugh-owned property in Islandton, South Carolina (per NPR). Vox notes that Alex Murdaugh called 911 after he found his wife and son's bodies. Although the authorities were suspicious of Alex, they did not arrest him at this point in time. However, by early September that year, shocking details emerged about Alex — the law firm he worked at alleged that he had mishandled his client's funds.

Moreover, Alex reportedly attempted to have a friend shoot and kill him to ensure his son Buster Murdaugh would get his life insurance policy. This plan did not work out — Alex survived and confessed to the arrangement. Alex then revealed that he was addicted to opioids and subsequently went to rehab. Shortly after, he was arrested for fraud. Per NPR, Alex allegedly embezzled funds from the estate of Gloria Satterfield. Vox explains that Satterfield was Murdaugh's housekeeper who died at Moselle in 2018. By May 2022, Alex was facing 79 charges for forgery and more.

The New York Times states that Alex was charged with Paul and Maggie's murder in July 2022. Prosecutors believe that he may have killed his wife and son to prevent his financial crimes from coming to light (per CNN).

The aftermath of the Murdaugh murders

Upon Paul Murdaugh's death, all charges related to Mallory Beach's death were dropped (per CBS News). Despite this, Beaches' family is confident that Paul was behind the wheel the night of the boat crash. Likewise, they were distressed by his murder. Beach's father, Phillip Beach, explained (via ABC7 New York), "We've heard that statement, that 'You finally got justice.' This is not justice for us." He added, "These people were brutally murdered and he did not deserve it. Neither did his mama." ABC News 4 reported that the Beach family settled a lawsuit with Buster Murdaugh and the estate of Maggie Murdaugh for an undisclosed amount in January 2023.

This news came a year after the Beach family decided to file a $50 million claim on top of their other lawsuits regarding Beach's death (via another article from ABC News 4). However, at the time of this publication, the family has yet to settle with Alex Murdaugh and the convenience store that sold the then-underage Paul alcohol.

The Greenville News writes that Beach's family is keeping her memory alive with Mal's Palz, a charity founded to build an animal shelter in Hampton County, South Carolina. Her mother, Renee Beach, explained, "She always had an animal with her or would pick up strays and bring them home." CNN states that Alex Murdaugh pled not guilty to murdering his son and wife. His murder trial began in January 2023 (via NPR).