Alex Murdaugh looked up local restaurant minutes after police arrived at scene of murders
Disgraced legal scion Alex Murdaugh looked up a restaurant online just minutes after finding the butchered bodies of his wife and son, records show.
Prosecutors in Mr Murdaugh’s double murder trial on Friday presented a timeline of the evening on 7 June 2021, when Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were shot dead on their property in Islandton, South Carolina. Mr Murdaugh is accused of executing the slayings to distract from his growing legal and financial troubles.
To build a chronology of the events, agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) pulled records from the disbarred lawyer’s phone, as well as the victims’. The information collected from 6pm to 11pm on the day of the shootings shows several interactions between Maggie, Paul, Mr Murduagh and other relatives.
The report also shows a bizarre search by Mr Murdaugh at 10.40pm, just 34 minutes after alerting 911 dispatchers that he had found his wife and son’s bodies by the property’s dog kennels — and 15 minutes after the first deputy arrived on the scene.
“Alex Murdaugh searched ‘Whaley’s Edisto’ in Safari browser,” the timeline states.
The restaurant in Edisto Island is nearly an hour and a half away from the Murdaugh’s hunting state.
Phone records also show that Mr Murdaugh tried to call his wife twice, once around 6.44pm and again at 9.04pm. Maggie called Mr Murdaugh at 7.02pm; the call was answered but lasted just two seconds. Mr Murdaugh’s call at 9.04pm was listed as “missed” but lasted 18 seconds.
At 9.47, Mr Murdaugh texted his wife: “Call me babe.” The message went unread.
The state previously shared a timeline for the murders with the court, saying that Paul was shot at the dog kennels first at 8.50pm and Maggie minutes later.
Mr Murdaugh called Maggie again at 10.03pm, just three minutes before calling 911.
He spoke with dispatchers until 10.17pm and the first deputy arrived at the scene at 10.25pm.
From the time he hung up the call with 911 dispatchers until law enforcement arrived, Mr Murdaugh called at least three family members or close friends.Cellphone records allegedly place Mr Murdaugh at the dog kennels minutes earlier – when the suspect had “told everyone he was never there”.
He then called his surviving son Buster at 10.44pm, with the call lasting eight seconds.
A caregiver to Mr Murdaugh’s mother previously told jurors about Mr Murdaugh’s unusual behaviour both on the night of the murders and in the days that followed.
She testified that Mr Murdaugh showed up at his sick mother’s house between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on the night of 7 June – then left 20 minutes later. A few days after the murders, she testified that Mr Murdaugh asked her to tell authorities that he had stayed at his parents’ house for double the length of time that he had.
Elsewhere in the report revealed on Friday, it is noted that Maggie spoke with his mother and her sister Marian Proctor, while Paul had several conversations on Snapchat. A video pulled from Paul’s Snapchat shows him at the dog kennels on the grounds of the family estate. Two voices heard in the background have been identified by several witnesses as belonging to Mr Murdaugh and Maggie.
Another Snapchat video recorded by Paul at 7.56pm has become a focal point in the trial, as it shows Mr Murdaugh in trousers, loafers and a blue button-down shirt – clothing that does not match what he is seen wearing in police bodycam footage in the aftermath of the murders.
In the bodycam footage, shown in court last week, the disgraced attorney is dressed in a white short-sleeved t-shirt and shorts.
Prosecutors have hinted that the lack of items connecting Mr Murdaugh to the killings — such as weapons that haven’t been found and blood found only near the bodies and not on his clothes — indicate he cleaned up the crime scene before heading to visit his mother.
Mr Murdaugh has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty last June.
The double murder trial is Walterboro, South Carolina, is far from Mr Murdaugh’s only legal problem. Besides the case, Mr Murdaugh is facing at least 100 other criminal charges over a string of financial fraud allegations.
He is expected to take the stand in his own defence early next week, a source close to the defence told News 3.
Chris Slobogin, the director of the criminal justice program at Vanderbilt University, told The Independent that calling a defendant to testify is often “a tactic of last resort” by the defence, but could also work in Mr Murdaugh’s favour.
“If Murdaugh can’t explain away all the prosecution’s evidence, lets slip any incriminating or contradictory statement, or gets defensive or angry, the jury is likely to be very tough on him,” he said. “Plus, the prosecution can challenge him with prior crimes or inconsistent statements he’s made in the past. But a defendant who appears highly credible can also turn the tide.”