Who Is Curtis 'Cousin Eddie' Smith, Alex Murdaugh's Alleged Hired Hitman?

On September 4, 2021, Alex Murdaugh asked Curtis "Cousin Eddie" Smith to kill him. At least, that's what Smith says in Season 2 of the Netflix series "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal," TODAY reports. On June 7 that year, Murdaugh's wife and son, Maggie and Paul, were murdered, and Murdaugh was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison for those crimes. The conversation Smith and Murdaugh had on the morning of September 4 was just one of many ways Smith is intertwined with the case.

According to Smith, he met Murdaugh decades earlier and worked odd jobs for the Murdaugh family, owners of a prominent family law firm in the area. He also knew Alex Murdaugh's father, Randolph. So why would Murdaugh make such a gruesome request of his close family friend and distant cousin?  According to Smith, Murdaugh said, "Because they're gonna be able to prove that I'm responsible for Maggie and Paul." 

Smith said he then asked Murdaugh what really happened that night on the expansive rural South Carolina Murdaugh family estate where Maggie and Paul died. "Things just got all f***** up," Murdaugh allegedly responded.

Murdaugh later called 911

According to NBC News, later on September 4, 2021, Alex Murdaugh called 911 to report he'd been shot on the side of the road while changing a flat tire. He later admitted he hired Curtis Smith to shoot and kill him so his only surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, could collect on a roughly $10 million life insurance policy. Murdaugh's lawyers said he was depressed over the recent deaths of Maggie and Paul and experiencing drug withdrawal. Smith was arrested, but he denied pulling the trigger. In October that year, Smith told TODAY, "I didn't shoot him. I'm innocent. If I'd have shot him, he'd be dead. He's alive."

According to Smith, on September 4, he unequivocally told Alex Murdaugh he would not kill him. "Ain't happenin'. Not today, not tomorrow, it ain't happenin,'" Smith allegedly said. Seated in his car in front of a funeral home when the conversation took place, Murdaugh then allegedly threatened to do it himself and drove away. Concerned, Smith said he followed him and finally confronted Murdaugh on the roadside. Across various interviews, Smith said Murdaugh had a gun, and as Smith struggled to take the weapon, a shot went off (via The State). But in "Mudraugh Murders," Smith notably said he fired a warning shot. Regardless, Smith said Murdaugh fell and received minor injuries, but the bullet never hit him. "I knew I hadn't shot him. I knew there weren't no blood on him, there was no blood on me. So I went home," he said in the show.

Curtis Smith's charges

Once arrested in September 2021, Curtis Smith faced charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, among others. According to The Post and Courier, Smith failed a polygraph test when asked about Maggie and Paul Murdaugh's murder. "I know I was nowhere near the place where Maggie and Paul got killed at," Smith said at the time. Also in 2022, Smith was indicted on money laundering and other drug charges related to the Murdaugh case, according to the South Carolina attorney general's office. In September, 2023, South Carolina Attorney General's Office Communications Director Robert Kittle told TODAY Smith had yet to enter a plea. 

In October 2021, Smith's attorney told TODAY, "I think that [Smith's] being set up by a person who is a drug addict who is going through horrific withdrawals 20 years' opioids use, and I think that [Murdaugh] is doing exactly what people with addict behavior do." In 2022 Smith was released on bond but returned to jail for violating the terms of his release, according to The Independent. In April 2023, one month after Murdaugh's double-murder conviction and sentencing, Smith was again released on bond and put under house arrest for health reasons. 

According to Greenville News, also in April 2023, Smith was absent from the court room at his indictment hearing and in the ICU. At the time, Smith's attorneys suggested he could enter a plea deal. In Season 2 of Netflix's "Murdaugh Murders," Smith denied dealing drugs and said he had no involvement in the Murdaugh murders.

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).