(Trends Wide) — Alex Murdaugh, the South Carolina attorney whose wife and son were shot and killed in June, plans to voluntarily turn himself in to police Thursday on charges related to a subsequent insurance fraud scheme, his attorney told Trends Wide.
According to court documents, Murdaugh arranged for a former client to kill him so that his surviving son could collect about $ 10 million in life insurance.
One of Murdaugh’s attorneys, Jim Griffin, told Trends Wide they were informed that an arrest warrant was issued for Murdaugh on charges of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. Murdaugh plans to voluntarily turn himself in to the Hampton County jail before 2 p.m., according to Griffin.
Murdaugh was shot in the head on a highway on September 4, but survived. A family spokesperson had previously blamed an unidentified man in a blue van for the shooting. However, Murdaugh admitted Monday to authorities that he had conspired with a man – who police identified as Curtis Edward Smith – to kill him as part of the scheme, according to an affidavit to support the charges against Smith.
Murdaugh decided to end his own life but believed his life insurance policy had a suicide exclusion, said his other attorney, Dick Harpootlian, and that the plan “was an attempt on his part to do something to protect” his eldest and only son alive.
Additionally, state investigators announced the opening of two other investigations related to the unsolved death of a teenager in 2015, as well as the 2018 death of the Murdaugh family’s housekeeper.
The murders of his wife and son have yet to be solved, and Murdaugh has denied responsibility.
Doubts about housekeeper’s death continue, lawyer says
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced Wednesday that it was opening a criminal investigation into the death of Gloria Satterfield in February 2018 and the management of her estate.
Satterfield was the Murdaugh family’s housekeeper for more than two decades before she died in 2018, after what was described as a “slip and fall accident” at the Murdaugh home, according to attorney Eric Bland, who represents your heritage.
The SLED said it is opening an investigation based on a request from the Hampton County coroner highlighting inconsistencies in the finding of Satterfield’s manner of death, as well as information gathered during the other ongoing SLED investigations involving Murdaugh.
“The death of the deceased was not reported to the coroner at the time, nor was an autopsy performed. In the death certificate, the manner of death was described as ‘natural’, which is not consistent with the injuries sustained in an accident trip and fall, “said the coroner’s request to the SLED.
Bland filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Satterfield estate Wednesday against Alex Murdaugh, former estate attorney Cory Fleming, as well as Palmetto State Bank.
Additionally, Bland told Trends Wide’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday that following Satterfield’s death, his family trusted Murdaugh to help them file a lawsuit against himself on behalf of the estate.
“They trusted him”
“Certainly there were questions from my clients because after she unfortunately fell, they airlifted her to a hospital and had a traumatic brain injury, she was never able to communicate with them for the next three weeks until she died,” Bland said to Cuomo. “So it was Alex Murdaugh who told the story that she had tripped and fell down the stairs on her dogs.”
“They trusted him,” Bland said. “He led his best friend and college classmate by the hand to file a lawsuit against him on behalf of his estate.”
According to Bland, several lawsuits were filed that contributed to a settlement, but none of those settlements ended up in court, except for one for around $ 500,000 from insurer Lloyds of London.
“There are no court orders approving any of those settlements. And according to the law, if it’s a wrongful death or survivor case, a judge has to approve the settlements. None of that exists in the court record, and our clients never found out that these cases had resolved these claims, until it was published in the newspaper by investigative journalists, “Bland said.
According to the lawyer, the claims were settled for more than US $ 2 million, of which his clients have not received any part. “Our job is to get answers and get your money back,” added Bland.
Additionally, police are investigating the unsolved death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith on June 22, approximately two weeks after the murders of Murdaugh’s woman and son.
SLED said the investigation was being reopened based on information gathered while investigating the double homicide.
They accuse ex-client in a suicide scheme
The man who allegedly shot Murdaugh earlier this month was ordered to do so by the same attorney, according to an affidavit.
On Wednesday, Curtis Smith, 61, was charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, according to the SLED.
Murdaugh was not mortally wounded when he was shot on September 4. Later, he called 911 to report that he had been shot on a Hampton County highway, according to the SLED, and was taken to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia.
Authorities initially described Murdaugh’s injury as a “superficial gunshot wound to the head,” although Murdaugh’s attorneys said his skull was fractured in the shooting.
Murdaugh allegedly provided Smith with a firearm and instructed him to shoot him in the head. Smith admitted Tuesday that he was present at the shooting and later disposed of the firearm, according to the affidavit.
Cases in which Murdaugh was Smith’s attorney
It is unclear if Smith has an attorney. The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office said Smith had a bond hearing Wednesday morning and received a $ 5,000 cash bond for the methamphetamine charge and a personal recognition bond for the marijuana charge. He was transferred to Hampton County custody Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
Murdaugh had represented Smith as his attorney on at least two occasions dating back to 2010, according to court records for the Colleton County 14th Judicial Circuit.
He first represented Smith in a personal injury lawsuit Smith filed against a land management company, and Murdaugh is also listed as Smith’s attorney for a 2013 traffic violation, court documents show.
Trends Wide’s Amanda Watts, Gregory Lemos, Melissa Alonso, Angela Barajas, Caroline Kenny and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.