Police chief promises ‘justice’ for all of Alex Murdaugh’s victims as he is sentenced to life for murders

South Carolina officials have vowed to get “justice” for all of Alex Murdaugh’s other alleged victims after he was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul.

SLED Chief Mark Keel gave a brief press conference outside Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, moments after Murdaugh was handed the highest possible sentence over the 7 June 2021 slayings.

“Today is not the end. It’s the next step in a long road to justice for every person who has been victimised by Alex Murdaugh,” he said.

“Alex Murdaugh has rightfully been found guilty of murdering his wife Maggie and son Paul. He was found guilty because he was guilty and as one of the witnesses said ‘Paul was a little detective’.”

Chief Keel issued a warning that anyone who has assisted Murdaugh in his crimes should now know “that justice will be sought”.

His comments about “a long road to justice” pointed to the slew of other crimes for which Murdaugh is awaiting trial as state prosecutors and investigators believe the murders are only a fraction of the disgraced legal scion’s sprawling crime wave.

Beyond the murders, he is charged with 99 counts on more than a dozen indictments in a vast multi-million-dollar fraud scheme going back at least a decade.

Through the schemes, he allegedly stole at least $8.7m from settlements from dozens of legal clients he represented through his law firm PMPED.

He is also facing charges over a bizarre September 2021 botched hitman plot. On 4 September 2021 – three months on from the murders and one day after he was ousted from his law firm for stealing funds – Murdaugh was shot on the side of a road in Hampton County.

He claimed he was ambushed in a drive-by shooting while changing a tire on his vehicle but his story fell apart and he confessed to asking Curtis Eddie Smith to shoot and kill him in an assisted suicide plot so that his surviving son Buster could get a $12m life insurance windfall.

Mr Smith, 62, is Mr Murdaugh’s alleged drug dealer, distant cousin and former law firm client. Both men were arrested and charged over the incident and are currently awaiting trial on the charges.

They were both later hit with fresh charges of narcotics and criminal conspiracy over an alleged drug and $2.4m money laundering ring.

Meanwhile, after Maggie and Paul’s murders, investigations were also opened into two mysterious deaths connected to the Murdaugh family.

Defence attorney Dick Harpootlian, right, and defence attorney Jim Griffin speak after their client Alex Murdaugh is found guilty (AP)
Defence attorney Dick Harpootlian, right, and defence attorney Jim Griffin speak after their client Alex Murdaugh is found guilty (AP)

Gloria Satterfield, the Murdaugh family’s housekeeper of two decades, died in a mysterious trip and fall death at the Moselle estate in 2018.

At the time, her death was regarded as an accidental fall – though her death certificate cited her manner of death as “natural” and no autopsy was performed. After her death, Murdaugh stole $4m in a wrongful death settlement from her family.

Now, officials are planning to exhume her body.

SLED has also reopened an investigation into the death of Stephen Smith, 19, who was found in the middle of a road in Hampton County back in 2015.

There have long been murmurings in the community that a “Murdaugh boy” may have been involved and the Murdaugh name came up 40 times in documents in the initial case, reported Live5News.

While Murdaugh’s other crimes are still making their way through the courts, Chief Keel said that “justice has been served” for Maggie and Paul.

The law enforcement chief pointed to the magnitude of the conviction of Murdaugh as he said he had only ever given two press conferences in the 12 years that he had headed up SLED.

He said that he had to speak out “because Maggie and Paul cannot”, saying: “There are no winners today.”

Murdaugh continued to maintain his innocence as he appeared for his sentencing in Colleton County Courthouse on Friday morning and was told he will spend the remainder of his life behind bars.

Dressed in a prison jumpsuit, with his hands cuffed and feet shackled, it was a far cry from the powerful and wealthy lifestyle that Murdaugh once enjoyed as the heir of a family that once dominated the lowcountry’s legal system.

While his surviving son Buster and other family members looked on from the public gallery, Murdaugh stood and addressed the court once again insisting his innocence of the brutal 7 June 2021 murders.

“I’m innocent. I would never hurt by wife Maggie and I would never hurt my son PawPaw,” he told the court.

Alex Murdaugh listens to the judge during his sentencing (Colleton County Court)
Alex Murdaugh listens to the judge during his sentencing (Colleton County Court)

While he gave a one-line statement professing his innocence, he then appeared to nod in agreement as Judge Clifton Waters told him that he will have to deal with what he did to his wife and son every night when he closes his eyes.

“I’m sure they come and visit you,” said the judge.

Murdaugh agreed that they do “all day and every night”.

But, when he was then given the opportunity by the judge to come clean, the disgraced attorney and serial liar reiterated his statement of innocence.

“I’ll tell you again. I respect this court, but I am innocent, and I would never under any circumstances hurt my wife, Maggie, and I would never under any circumstances hurt my son Paul,” he said.

Judge Newman was not buying it, telling him: “It might not be you. It might have been the monster you’ve become. If you take 20, 40, 50, 60 opioid pills, you become a different person.”

While he gave Murdaugh the chance to finally tell the truth once and for all, the judge admitted he “would not expect a confession of any kind”.

At one point, he asked him what he had meant on the witness stand when he said “oh what a tangled web we weave”.

“I meant that I lied and continued to lie,” he said.

Judge Newman asked him “when will it end?” as he recounted how Murdaugh had consistently lied to investigators in the 20 months since the murders – and then changed his story and yet continued to lie when he could no longer get away with his lies.

The judge hinted that – in his eyes – he believes Murdaugh should have been sentenced to death for the heinous slayings of his wife and adult son and suggested that he would have handed down the death penalty if prosecutors had requested it.

Judge Newman said that other inmates had been sentenced to death for a lot less but that prosecutors had taken the death penalty off the table.

“Over the past century, your family – including you – have been prosecuting people here in this courtroom, and many have received the death penalty – probably for lesser conduct,” he said.

Addressing Murdaugh head on, the judge told him that his case was “one of the most troubling cases” he had ever handled – pointing out the fact the killer was a high-powered attorney from a prominent family in the lowcountry.

“We have a wife who has been killed, murdered, a son savagely murdered, a lawyer - person from a respected family who has control of justice in this community for over a century – a person whose grandfather’s portrait hanged at the back of the courthouse – that I had to have ordered removed in order to ensure that a fair trial was had,” he said.

“It’s also particularly troubling, Mr Murdaugh, because as a member of the legal community… you’ve practiced law before me, and we’ve seen each other at various occasions throughout the years.

“It was especially heartbreaking for me to see you go in the media from being a grieving father who lost their wife and son to being a person indicted and convicted of killing them.”

The judge admonished Murdaugh for continuing with his lies in the courtroom – after he took the stand, changed his alibi and continued to deny killing his wife and son.

“And you’ve engaged in such duplicitous conduct here in the courtroom, here on the witness stand,” he said.

The court was expecting to hear victim impact statements but prosecutor Creighton Waters revealed that none of the victims wished to speak at this time.

The sentencing hearing began at 9.30am ET, with Mr Waters asking the judge to hand down the harshest possible sentence of two consecutive life sentences.

“It shows this man to be a cunning manipulator, a man who placed himself above all others, including his family, a man who violated the trust of so many – including his friends, his family, his partners, his profession, but most of all Maggie and Paul,” he said.

“A man like that should never be allowed to be among free, law abiding citizens again,” he said.

Mr Waters said that Maggie and Paul “like everyone else were unaware of who he really was... no one knew who he really was and that’s chilling”.

Over the course of the investigation and the trial, the lead prosecutor said he had discovered who the real Alex Murdaugh really was.

“I’ve looked in his eyes. He liked to stare me down as he walked by me during this trial. And I could see the real Alex Murdaugh,” he said.

Mr Waters offered his condolences to the Murdaugh family for the deaths of Maggie and Paul – both of whom were cut down “in their prime of life”.

Back on 7 June 2021, Maggie and Paul were gunned down on the family’s 1,700-acre estate.

Paul was shot twice with a 12-gauge shotgun while he stood in the feed room of the dog kennels – the second shot to his head blowing his brain almost entirely out of his skull.

After killing Paul, prosecutors said Murdaugh then grabbed a .300 Blackout semiautomatic rifle and opened fire on Maggie as she tried to flee from her husband.

She was shot five times including twice in the head after she had fallen to her knees.

Prosecutors said that Murdaugh killed his wife and son to distract from his string of financial crimes – at a time when his multi-million-dollar fraud scheme was on the brink of being exposed.

Over four weeks and 61 witnesses, prosecutors laid out this alleged motive for the murders as well as presenting the bizarre hitman plot as part of his pattern of making himself a victim when accountability came knocking on his door.

Key to the prosecution’s case was a damning cellphone video which placed Murdaugh at the scene of the murders.

The video, taken by Paul on his cellphone at 8.44pm, filmed a dog inside the kennels on the grounds of the Moselle estate.

Off-camera, three voices are heard: Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh.

Alex Murdaugh is led to the Colleton County Courthouse by sheriff's deputies for sentencing (AP)
Alex Murdaugh is led to the Colleton County Courthouse by sheriff's deputies for sentencing (AP)

During dramatic testimony, multiple witnesses identified Murdaugh’s voice in the footage.

Minutes later – at around 8.50pm – Maggie and Paul were brutally gunned down.

The bombshell video not only placed Murdaugh at the scene – but also exposed his lies about his alibi that night.

Since the 7 June 2021 murders, he had claimed that he had never gone to the dog kennels with his wife and son that night.

He claimed that he had stayed at the family home, napped on the couch and then driven to visit his mother at his parents’ home in Almeda.

When he drove home, he claimed he went down to the kennels, placing a dramatic 911 call claiming to have discovered the bodies of the two victims.

In a dramatic two days in the courtroom, Murdaugh finally confessed that he had spent the last 20 months lying about his alibi that night.

The convicted killer took the stand in his own defence and admitted for the first time that he was there at the kennels with the two victims that night – and that he had lied to law enforcement officials investigating the case, his family members and close friends and colleagues for the best part of two years.

Despite confessing to lying, Murdaugh continued to plead his innocence in Maggie and Paul’s murders.

Throughout the defence’s case, they sought to paint Murdaugh as a flawed character and an opioid addict – but one who loved his family and could never have carried out the murders.

Murdaugh’s conviction marks the latest twist in the saga of the man who was once the powerful heir to a South Carolina legal dynasty.