Alex Murdaugh Makes Chilling Admission About Wife & Son He Murdered

In March 2023, Alex Murdaugh, disgraced scion of the powerful South Carolina Murdaugh family, was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for the 2021 shooting death of his wife and son, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, on the family's rural South Carolina estate (per CNN). At his sentencing hearing, while speaking with Judge Clifton Newman, who presided over the court proceeding, Murdaugh referred to the memory of his murdered wife and son (per the New York Post). As Murdaugh's words to Judge Newman reflect, though the disbarred lawyer will spend the rest of his life in prison, the most long-lasting punishment for the crimes for which he is now convicted could instead be self-inflicted.

The highly-publicized Murdaugh case and subsequent trial exposed a string of mysterious deaths related to the Murdaugh family stretching back decades, as well as a history of substance use issues on Murdaugh's part. Many instances of financial fraud and embezzlement from the prominent family's legal firm and family fortune also surfaced. As well as those two murder convictions, Murdaugh was convicted on two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. In their case against Murdaugh, prosecutors alleged he killed his wife and son as that history of financial malfeasance caught up with him. 

Also according to the prosecution, Murdaugh's self-admitted addiction to opiate painkillers may have influenced his thinking. Murdaugh was 54 at the time of his conviction. He pleaded not guilty on all charges, according to CNN.

The Murdaugh case lacked direct evidence

As CNN writes, to get their conviction, prosecutors in the Alex Murdaugh trial had to first overcome a paucity of direct evidence linking the former lawyer to the crime. With that lack of direct evidence, including a murder weapon, evidence of blood on Murdaugh's clothing, or any witnesses, prosecutors built their case around photo, video, and cell phone data showing that Murdaugh was in the area where his wife and son were shot and killed. According to Murdaugh, he saw his wife and son alive near the kennels on the expansive Murdaugh family rural property. He then left the scene to visit his mother, according to Murdaugh's defense.

Per Murdaugh's own testimony, he called 911 when he got back to the property and found his wife and son dead. Key to the prosecution's case was video evidence on Paul Murdaugh's phone proving Murdaugh was there only a moment before Paul and Maggie died. Location data from Murdaugh's cell phone also disproved the former lawyer's initial alibi. To explain this discrepancy, Murdaugh claimed his addiction to opiate painkillers led to paranoid thinking, so he lied to investigators at first.

On the stand, Murdaugh said (per CNN): "As my addiction evolved over time, I would get in these situations or circumstances where I would get paranoid thinking." He said that on June 7, the day Maggie and Paul were shot and killed, "I wasn't thinking clearly. I don't think I was capable of reason. And I lied about being down there."

Murdaugh says he sees his wife and son when he tries to sleep

At Alex Murdaugh's sentencing hearing, Judge Clifton Newman (pictured), said (via the New York Post): "I know you have to see Paul and Maggie during the nighttime when you're attempting to go to sleep ... and reflect on the last time they looked you in the eyes. Alex Murdaugh responded, "All day and every night." Despite his conviction, Murdaugh also claimed he would "never hurt" his wife and son. On the topic of Murdaugh's admitted drug use, Judge Newman added, "[The murderer] might've been the monster you become when you take ... opioid pills. Maybe you become another person."

Murdaugh's defense team plans to appeal the verdict. In their view, evidence of Murdaugh's financial fraud should have been inadmissible. Murdaugh's attorney Jim Griffin said (via CNN) those financial crimes were "offered as motive for why he would go home and kill his wife and son, which we thought was illogical and ludicrous. There really was no evidence linking one to the other." Murdaugh defense attorney Dick Harpootlian added (via CNN) that despite claiming his innocence, "I think [Murdaugh] expected" the guilty verdict. After the financial crimes were considered admissible, Harpootlian said his team was "hoping for mistrial, you know, a hung jury. That was the best we could do."

Murdaugh will now stand trial for 99 financial charges. As of this report that trial date had not been set. South Carolina prosecutors declined to pursue the death penalty in the Murdaugh case.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).