Three bodies, 1,700 acres and a whole lot of hogs: Inside Alex Murdaugh’s $4m Moselle estate

The Moselle estate where the murders took place  (AP)
The Moselle estate where the murders took place (AP)

It’s a case that has captured the nation’s attention over the past 21 months as South Carolina legal dynasty heir Alex Murdaugh stands trial for the brutal double murders of his wife and son.

Now, jurors are going back to the place where it all began.

On Wednesday, the jury is being taken to the family’s sprawling 1,700-acre Moselle estate in Islandton, South Carolina, to see for themselves the crime scene where Maggie and Paul were killed back on 7 June 2021.

They will tour the dog kennels where Mr Murdaugh allegedly ambushed his son in the feed room, shooting him once in the chest and a second time in the head, neck and shoulder with a shotgun.

They will see where, moments after gunning down Paul, the husband and father allegedly turned on his wife Maggie.

They will see where she desperately tried to flee her killer, backing into an ATV under a hangar outside before being shot five times with a semiautomatic rifle.

But that’s not all jurors will see.

They will see a place where another mysterious death took place just three years before the 2021 murders.

They will see a snapshot of the powerful and affluent Murdaugh family’s life given the $4m property was the place they called home for several years.

And they may see some of the estate’s wild hogs – whose existence has been an unusually common mention throughout the disgraced attorney’s murder trial.

Moselle’s dark history

Bordering the banks of the Salkehatchie River, 4147 Moselle Road consists of over 1,700 acres of land including a 5,275-square-foot house, a farm, a two-mile stretch of river – and of course the dog kennels.

Before the Murdaughs called Moselle home, the property was tied to another controversial family.

It was the home of Barrett Boulware – a fisherman, suspected drug smuggler and Mr Murdaugh’s longtime friend and business partner who died in 2018.

An aerial view of the Moselle estate including the kennels and feed room (AP)
An aerial view of the Moselle estate including the kennels and feed room (AP)

He and his father were arrested on drug smuggling charges in 1980 when investigators seized 15 tons of marijuana from a shrimp boat in the Bahamas.

The charges were later dropped when a key government witness died.

Boulware’s name cropped up during the murder trial when jurors heard that Mr Murdaugh had stolen $750,000 in insurance money from his friend when he was dying of colon cancer.

Murdaugh family home

Alex Murdaugh bought Moselle back in 2013 from Boulware’s wife Jeannine Morris Boulware, according to property records.

Mr Murdaugh allegedly bought the entire property for just $5, FITS News reported – a move sometimes used so the seller can avoid paying capital gains taxes.

Moselle was just one of several homes that the high-powered attorney – and alleged finanical fraudster – owned.

The family also had a home in Hampton, South Carolina, as well as a beach home in Edisto Beach.

During testimony from his Mr Murdaugh’s surviving son Buster Murdaugh, jurors heard how the Hampton home had been their main residence but, after it was damaged in a hurricane, the family made Moselle their main home.

However, jurors have heard how Maggie preferred to stay at Edisto Beach – especially during the summer months.

Buster testified that much of the land on Moselle was actually inaccessible and consisted of swamp land.

1,700 acres and a whole lot of hogs

Throughout the trial, jurors have heard how the property’s 1,700 acres were a hunter’s paradise with dove fields, deer stands and duck ponds all over the estate.

Mr Murdaugh, Paul and Buster – as well as their friends – would spend a lot of time riding around the estate hunting deer, duck, quail, doves and hogs.

In particular, jurors have heard a lot about the hunting of wild hogs – from the time of day to hunt to the type of guns used.

Several witnesses testified that they roamed the property and caused a nuisance, and that the family – and their friends – would shoot them any chance they got.

Alex Murdaugh looks on as his murder trial nears its end (AP)
Alex Murdaugh looks on as his murder trial nears its end (AP)

One witness even told the court how he had killed around 1,000 hogs in his time in the area (though not just on the Murdaugh estate).

The property’s river also made it ideal for fishing and kayaking.

Mystery buyer

In the months after the murders, Mr Murdaugh put Moselle on the market and it is currently under offer for a $3.9m bid from a mystery buyer.

The property was first listed in February 2022 – eight months after Maggie and Paul’s murders and five months before Mr Murdaugh was charged with them – under a new name of Cross Swamp Farm.

It was later changed back to Moselle Farm.

According to the listing by the Crosby Land Co. of Colleton County, Moselle consists of 1,772 acres of “an unusually diverse habitat with varying forest types and age class distribution”.

“The landscape includes productive pine plantations, open fallow fields, and mature stands of mixed pine/hardwood, those upland regions give way to the flat bottomland of the Salkehatchie River Basin,” it reads.

“The property boasts over 2.5 miles of river frontage, offering freshwater fishing, kayaking, and abundant deer, turkey, and waterfowl populations.”

The family home was built in 2011 and consists of four bedrooms and 3.5 baths, meaning it could “easily be converted into a weekend hunting lodge with the capability to sleep up to 15 people”, the listing reads.

“This is truly a top-tier property, complete with all the improvements and amenities one would expect from a high-end sporting property with little or no deferred maintenance cost,” it reads.

A buyer – said to be a local landowner – put in an offer in June 2022. But the sale was put on hold when Mr Murdaugh was accused of trying to offload his assets to avoid paying up in a string of lawsuits he is facing, prompting a court to freeze his assets.

Three bodies in three years

At least three deaths have now taken place on the Moselle estate.

In February 2018 – three years before Maggie and Paul’s murders – the Murdaughs’ long-term housekeeper Gloria Satterfield died in a mysterious trip and fall at the family home.

Satterfield, who worked for the family for more than 20 years, was found at the bottom of the steps leading into the family’s home after she was believed to have tripped over the pet dogs.

She never resumed consciousness and died from her injuries three weeks later on 26 February.

At the time, her death was regarded as an accidental fall.

Gloria Satterfield died in a ‘trip and fall’ at the Murdaugh home in 2018 (Provided)
Gloria Satterfield died in a ‘trip and fall’ at the Murdaugh home in 2018 (Provided)

However, her death certificate cited her manner of death as “natural” and no autopsy was performed.

Questions have now been mounting around Satterfield’s death and investigators reopened an investigation into her death in September 2021 – days after Mr Murdaugh’s financial fraud scheme came to light.

Investigators are planning to exhume her body.

As part of his 100 financial crimes charges, Mr Murdaugh is now charged with stealing $4m in wrongful death settlement funds from Satterfield’s family as part of his decade-long multi-million-dollar fraud scheme.

The jury tour

The tour of the murder scene came at the request of Mr Murdaugh’s defence attorney Dick Harpootlian who said “it would be useful for the jury to see Moselle” before they decide the fate of the disgraced attorney.

The jury visit to the grisly scene will take place under tight security with Judge Clifton Newman telling jurors that they can’t ask anyone any questions while they are there, including law enforcement, and that they cannot discuss the case with each other during the trip.

The judge also advised them that some things have changed on the property in the aftermath of the murders.

“It has been a year and a half or more since June 7, 2021, since the alleged crime occurred. Things have most likely changed. We’re in a different season of the year,” he said on Tuesday afternoon.

The media has also been banned from accompanying jurors on the trip, though a small media pool is allowed to visit the site once the jury has left.

Judge Newman agreed to the jury visit on Monday following a request from Mr Murdaugh’s defence attorney Prosecutor Creighton Waters raised an objection that the property has changed in the last 20 months, with trees between the family home and the kennels having grown significantly.

Judge Newman gave the defence a rare win and agreed to arrange the field trip to Moselle.

The dog kennels and feed room where Maggie and Paul were killed (AP)
The dog kennels and feed room where Maggie and Paul were killed (AP)

During the courtroom discussion, Mr Harpootlian also raised concerns around the need for security for the trip after he claimed people had been caught trespassing on the property at the weekend.

He said that Mr Murdaugh’s brother called law enforcement to remove trespassers from Moselle as he noticed people taking selfies in front of the feed room where the brutal murders unfolded.

“There were literally dozens of people at Moselle last weekend trespassing, taking selfies in front of the feed room,” he said, condemning the “carnival attitude” of some members of the public.

After the jury visit, the day’s proceedings will resume in Colleton County Courthouse with the defence and prosecution arguing the charges for how the jury will deliberate.

Then, jurors will hear closing arguments before they begin deliberations – as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

Ultimately, the same day that the spotlight shines once again on the family home, Mr Murdaugh could find himself with a new, more permanent home – behind bars.