Buster Murdaugh’s stunned reaction to the brutal murders of his mother Maggie and brother Paul has been revealed for the first time in newly-released bodycam footage.
The only surviving son of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh was interviewed by investigators for the first time on 10 June 2021 – three days after Maggie and Paul were gunned down at the dog kennels of the family’s sprawling Moselle hunting estate in South Carolina.
Footage of the interview was publicly released for the first time during NBC’s new Dateline special “The Murdaugh Murders: Inside the Investigation”.
In it, the 25-year-old is seen sitting in a police vehicle speaking of the moment his father called him that fateful night and told him his mother and brother were dead.
“He said ‘something terrible has happened’,” Buster said of his father Alex.
“I could tell that he was emotional. He goes on to tell me that my mother and brother have been shot and killed.”
He added: “I just didn’t understand really how to comprehend it.”
When asked by an officer if he knew of anyone who might want to harm his younger sibling Paul, Buster said no but brought up the February 2019 fatal boat crash.
“No sir. I know people disliked him due to the accident but I couldn’t single out anybody that I know that would do what has been done,” he said.
Buster went on to say that he believed his brother was the likely target of the shooting – and that the motive was likely the boat crash.
“I would say if I had to have a take that probably is what it would be,” he said.
“I think someone was probably trying to kill my brother, that my mom was probably just there.”
The boat crash was indeed part of the motivation behind the murders, prosecutors said at Murdaugh’s trial – but not for the reason that Buster thought at the time.
At the time of the murders, Paul had been awaiting trial on felony charges over the boat crash which culminated in the tragic death of his friend Mallory Beach.
Beach, Paul and their friends Connor Cook, Morgan Doughty, Anthony Cook and Miley Altman went out on the Murdaugh’s boat heading to an oyster roast on Paukie’s Island on the night of 23 February 2019. Paul was allegedly drunk driving behind the wheel and crashed the boat into Archers Creek Bridge.
The group of friends were thrown overboard and injured, but managed to get out of the water to safety – except for Beach. Her body washed up on the shore one week later.
As well as Paul facing criminal charges over the accident, Alex Murdaugh was also being sued by the Beach family in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Jurors heard at his murder trial how the lawsuit was about to expose his vast multi-million-dollar fraud scheme, with a hearing scheduled for 10 June 2021 – three days after the murders and the same day as Buster’s interview.
That same day, Murdaugh’s two brothers John Marvin Murdaugh and Randy Murdaugh were also interviewed separately by law enforcement about the moment Alex Murdaugh broke the news to them.
If you thought you knew this story, think again...
Because tonight at 9/8c, for the first time, investigators are taking you inside the Murdaugh investigation, on an all-new 2-hour #Dateline. pic.twitter.com/lZh0Hm29v6
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) November 18, 2023
On the night of 7 June 2021, Murdaugh had called 911 claiming he found Maggie and Paul shot dead at the kennels.
After he called police, he called his brothers who – based on what they told investigators – believed their sibling was in a genuine state of “total panic”.
“He says ‘John, Paul and Maggie have been shot and hurt’. It’s just total panic,” said John Marvin.
As he choked up with tears, he added: “He said ‘please get here as fast as you can’... I got dressed as quick as I could.”
Randy was also visibly emotional in his interview as he recounted the moment he received the call from his brother.
“Alex could hardly talk... but you could tell there was something really bad wrong,” he said.
“It was just a frantic phone call from him.”
After rushing to the scene, Randy said that he hugged his brother as they both wept close to the bodies of Maggie and Paul.
“I found him and we just hugged and cried… I could see the white sheets,” he said.
“I mean I knew whoever was under those sheets they were not alive but I didn’t think it could be possible it could be them.”
John Marvin and Randy also brought up the boat crash during the interviews with police, with Randy saying that Paul had “made some bad decisions one night”.
“And it led to a grave set of circumstances. He put his friends in a bad, bad situation,” he said.
It would be around one year later when Murdaugh was arrested and charged with the murders of his wife and son.
Throughout his high-profile trial – dubbed the Lowcountry’s “trial of the century” – the Murdaugh family stood by the disgraced legal scion, attending every day of his trial in a show of support.
Both Buster and John Marvin also testified in his defence.
However, following his conviction for the double murders back in March, some cracks started to show.
In the days after his sentencing, Randy admitted that he believes his sibling “is not telling the truth” about the night of the murders.
“He knows more than what he’s saying,” Randy told The New York Times.
“He’s not telling the truth, in my opinion, about everything there.”
Murdaugh has continued to profess his innocence and is fighting for a new trial based on bombshell accusations of jury tampering against the court clerk.
In September, Murdaugh’s attorneys filed a motion accusing court clerk Becky Hill of breaking her oath by tampering with the jury and pressuring them into returning a guilty verdict against him.
They claim that she advised the panel not to be “fooled by” Murdaugh’s testimony on the stand or “misled” by the defence’s evidence, pushed them to reach a quick guilty verdict, and misrepresented “critical and material information to the trial judge in her campaign to remove a juror she believed to be favorable to the defense”.
Ms Hill has denied the allegations. In a sworn statement filed last week, the state branded the allegations as “a sweeping conspiratorial theory” and said that “not every inappropriate comment made by a member of court staff to a juror rises to the level of constitutional error”.
Based on the claims, Murdaugh’s legal team has demanded that the disbarred attorney be granted a new murder trial and called for the removal of Judge Newman from the case.
They argued that the judge would potentially be called as a witness in hearings involving the jury tampering allegations and also questioned his impartiality based on comments he has made about the case.
Last week, a court order from all five South Carolina high court justices revealed that Judge Newman was stepping down from all future proceedings in the murder case – but would continue to preside over the financial crimes case.
While insisting his innocence in the murders, Murdaugh has however confessed to a slew of financial crimes.
On Friday, he accepted a plea deal in his state financial crimes case – admitting to swindling millions of dollars from desperate law firm clients in a scheme that came crashing down around him following the brutal murders of his wife and son.
In total, Murdaugh was facing 101 state charges over his vast multi-million-dollar fraud scheme as well as over a bizarre botched hitman plot where he claims he asked Curtis Eddie Smith – his alleged accomplice, distant cousin and drug dealer – to shoot him in the head so that his surviving son could get a $10m life insurance windfall.
According to prosecutors, Murdaugh worked with co-conspirators and friends ex-attorney Cory Fleming and ex-Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte to swindle clients out of millions of dollars.
Among the victims was the family of Murdaugh’s dead housekeeper Gloria Satterfield – who died in a mystery trip and fall at the family estate in 2018.
Murdaugh allegedly stole more than $4m in a wrongful death suit payout from the family.
In September, Murdaugh pleaded guilty to 22 federal financial charges over the financial fraud scheme including wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
He faced up to 30 years in federal prison on some of the charges which came under the agreement that the sentence would be served concurrently with any state conviction on the same charges.
His co-conspirators Fleming and Laffitte had already been convicted in federal court for their part in the convicted killer’s white-collar fraud scheme, with the former sentenced to four years and the latter to seven years.
Murdaugh will be sentenced at the end of the month on the state financial fraud charges.