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Everything Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal Didn't Tell You About The True Story

The small community of Hampton, South Carolina was rocked by the 2021 murders of mother and son Maggie and Paul Murdaugh and the subsequent trial and conviction of Alex Murdaugh, husband and father of the victims. With the shocking events came a barrage of news coverage, podcasts, and documentaries surrounding the deaths, the family, and the circumstances that led to Alex Murdaugh's indictment. One documentary receiving a lot of buzz is the Netflix miniseries "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal."

The murders took place in a part of the deep south called the Lowcountry, an area defined by extensive marshes, waterways, and unmarred wilderness. It is a landscape made for hunting, fishing, and boating, among other outdoor pursuits, and most people there have deep roots going back several generations. Nearly everyone knows everyone else and blood relations are plentiful.

On February 23, 2019, six teenagers — all around 19 years old — were heading home after a party when their boat crashed into a bridge. Five of the teens managed to make it to shore, but one did not. Mallory Beach was lost to the river, and her tragic death sparked a series of events almost too outlandish to believe. "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" focuses on that fateful boat crash and how it led to the undoing of one of Hampton's most prominent families. However, there's a lot more to the story. Here's everything the Netflix series didn't tell you.

Paul was reportedly hitting on nurses in the ER

"Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" mostly devotes itself to the 2019 boat crash that killed Mallory Beach. That fateful night, three couples — Anthony Cook and Mallory Beach, Connor Cook and Miley Altman, and Morgan Doughty and Paul Murdaugh — went out in the Murdaugh family boat to a party. They started back around midnight, and it was apparently obvious that Paul, the younger of Alex Murdaugh's two sons, was highly intoxicated. It's said that, despite his condition, the teen was unwilling to let anyone else drive.

Episode 2 starts with the hours after the crash as rescuers frantically search for Mallory while the other teens — except for her boyfriend Anthony, who stayed at the river — get taken to hospital. Medical professionals discovered that Paul's blood alcohol level was over three times the legal limit. Multiple people noted that Paul was thrashing around and needed to be restrained. Morgan's mom Diane tells how nurses warned her that Paul was "a nasty drunk" and to keep her daughter away from him. However, what isn't mentioned is how Paul was apparently laughing and hitting on nurses.

According to the HBO docuseries "Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty," Paul's attitude in the hospital was shocking to those present. Because the Netflix series focuses so heavily on the teens' relationships, it ought to have highlighted Paul's behavior in the ER, too. Per the HBO series, Paul appeared somewhat unfazed by the tragic events of the evening, and he was seemingly unconcerned about his missing friend and the consequences that awaited him.

Alex wanted Connor Cook's family to use his co-conspirator as an attorney

"Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" details the many ways in which Alex Murdaugh reportedly tried to get his son's friend Connor to be named as the driver of the boat rather than Paul. According to the Netflix show, this ranges from instructing the kids not to answer questions and say they "don't know" who was driving the boat, to claiming to represent them all, to contacting Connor's parents multiple times. What the series doesn't mention is that Alex is said to have recommended an attorney for Connor and his family to use: Cory Fleming.

Cory Fleming is a good friend and former college roommate of Alex's, something Alex reportedly never mentioned to the Cook family. Obviously, it would be a conflict of interests for someone so closely tied to the Murdaugh family to represent the person Alex allegedly wanted to take the blame for crashing the boat. Fleming would later be indicted as a co-conspirator in Alex's many financial crimes.

The Netflix series doesn't cover the financial crimes committed by Alex. The show's intention is to focus on the more titillating aspects of the case, so Cory Fleming isn't mentioned at all. However, Alex's apparent recommendation of him to the Cooks seems to suggest that he was hoping to conspire in the case of the crash.

Paul was never booked for the boat crash

It was two months after the death of Mallory Beach when Paul Murdaugh was charged with three felonies (one count of driving a water vehicle under the influence resulting in death, and two counts of boating under the influence resulting in great bodily injury), a point that "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" makes clear. However, while it provides video and audio clips of people and news organizations questioning why Paul hadn't been booked into jail yet, it doesn't make clear that this actually never happened, even after Paul's indictment, a full month after the charges were brought up.

There is additional footage and some statements from his friends' parents about the fact that he was never handcuffed, and Mallory's mother even recounts how his mugshot was taken of him in a nice shirt. While all of that is true, it's shocking to realize Paul never even set foot in the police station. He was never booked at all — the aforementioned mugshot was taken against a wall right outside the courtroom.

A judge denied a request for Paul to wear an alcohol monitor

Another way Paul Murdaugh was apparently given what's frequently referred to in Netflix's docuseries as "gentleman's treatment" is that the judge who set the bond in his case denied the prosecution's request that he should wear an alcohol monitor. Given that Paul was charged with three felonies committed while under the influence — one of which concerned the death of a 19-year-old girl — this was seen by many as gross neglect of duty. It was discussed on Twitter using the hashtag "#SouthsGoodOlBoySystem," as seen on the series.

Not only did Paul get sent home to wait indefinitely for a criminal trial that had still not come to pass more than two years later, but he reportedly continued to drink and party like nothing ever happened. Paul's former girlfriend Morgan Doughty says in "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" that she saw Snapchat stories and other social media posts of people still partying with Paul on a regular basis. Having a monitor — which the Netflix series never brings up — would have at the very least ensured that this underage boy was not continuing to abuse alcohol illegally.

Why was Maggie at the house at the time of the murders?

It's not until Episode 2 of "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" that the titular events are discussed in detail. The show provides the audio of the 911 call Alex made, as well as Alex's timeline of his movements that night. However, it leaves out a lot of small but significant details.

In the episode, reported problems in the Murdaugh's marriage are discussed, as are the rumors that Maggie had hired a forensic accountant and possibly even met with a divorce attorney. However, what it doesn't say is that Maggie wasn't living at the Moselle house at the time of the murders. She'd been staying at their beach house in Edisto, away from Alex. So why was she there?

The HBO documentary "Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty" explains that Maggie had been living at the beach house, but that on June 7, Alex texted her, asking to meet up. She apparently even discussed the texts with her sister, noting, "He's up to something." She was killed that night.

At the trial, as documented in the "20/20" episode "Murdaugh Family Murders," Maggie's sister testified that Alex's father was hospitalized and that Alex claimed his dad needed Maggie's support. After hearing this, she agreed to meet him at the Moselle house.

Tying the murders to the boat crash

Netflix's "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" covers how the survivors of the 2019 boat crash were each asked to provide an alibi for the night of the murder, and how they were all cleared of suspicion. Yet, the crash was continually linked to the murders. There's even footage of Fox Nation host Nancy Grace postulating that the murders may have been connected to the crash, stating that "anger or revenge" was the most likely motive.

In the "20/20" episode "Murdaugh Family Murders," it becomes even clearer why so many people initially assumed that these two events, set more than two years apart, would be related — and that reason is Alex. The episode provides extensive footage from Alex at the crime scene, in which he frequently mentions the boat crash and says he's confident that this is the reason his wife and son are dead.

Additionally, the episode contains footage of the very first interview Alex gave to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), given in the officer's vehicle on the night of the murders. Alex again brings up the crash in connection with the murders, saying there had been threats directed at Paul and that he was therefore targeted. Furthermore, when Alex took the stand on February 23, 2021 — exactly two years after the crash — his attorney played the portion of the 911 call in which Alex named the boat wreck and "months and months" of threats as the motive. He even says, "I should've known." It appears as though he was trying to dictate the narrative.

The death of Stephen Smith

According to "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal," two weeks into investigating the murders of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, SLED reopened the case of Stephen Smith's death. Killed in 2015, 19-year-old Smith was found lying in the middle of a road with head injuries. While Buster Murdaugh — Alex's oldest son — was mentioned many times in connection with the case, it never led anywhere. Stephen's death was labeled a hit-and-run, and the case was closed.

What "Murdaugh Murders" doesn't get into, however — something that the HBO documentary series "Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty" reveals — is that the only reason the coroner decided this was a hit-and-run is because Smith's body was found in the road. State police are said to have found the death suspicious for various reasons, from the complete lack of glass or debris at the crime scene and the odd position of the body, to the lack of injury anywhere on his body but his head. The Netflix show fails to mention that the coroner seemingly ignored all this evidence.

Yes, there's an indication in the Netflix series that the investigation was rushed through and/or covered up on behalf of the Murdaughs, but the HBO series actually backs this up with a statement from Stephen Smith's mother: Sandy Smith says that the morning Stephen's body was found, Randy Murdaugh — Alex's oldest brother — offered to represent the family. Unfortunately, the Netflix doc provides no more information on this case.

Alex's roadside shooting

On September 4, 2021, three months after the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, Alex Murdaugh called 911 again. This time, he said that he'd been shot in the head by an unknown white man who had stopped to help him change his tire. The Netflix miniseries addresses the particulars of this case, as these events become pivotal in the unraveling of Alex's lies, but it does leave out some crucial information. For instance, Alex's injury is listed in the police report as a superficial gunshot wound to the head, which would seem to corroborate Alex's story. However, a guest on the "20/20" episode about the murders said that the medical report reveals the wounds didn't seem to have resulted from a gunshot at all, but rather a fall to the ground onto the street. That conclusion tells a whole different story.

Another item left out of the Netflix series is how there were 10 shell casings found at the scene, which doesn't add up to Alex's story at all. It was soon revealed that Alex had asked his cousin, Curtis "Eddie" Smith, to shoot him. Smith confirms in the "20/20" episode that the request was made, but he says he shot into the air to scare sense into Alex, and did not actually wound him. This revelation opened up an entirely new can of worms, and Alex's house of cards completely collapsed.

Alex goes to rehab

On September 6, 2021, Alex Murdaugh announced that he was resigning from his law firm and entering rehab (he would later reveal that he had an opioid addiction). However, the firm swiftly contradicted this story. Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED) is the law firm founded in 1910 by Randolph Murdaugh Sr., Alex's great-grandfather. Netflix's miniseries about the murders mentions the trip to rehab briefly, but the "20/20" episode "Murdaugh Family Murders" goes into much more detail.

Mere hours after Alex's statement about leaving the firm and entering rehab, PMPED released its own statement saying that Murdaugh did not resign as he claims, but rather was asked to leave on September 3 — the day before his bizarre roadside shooting — because he had misappropriated funds from clients and the firm alike. It is left to the viewer to reconcile how coincidental it is that the day after Murdaugh was essentially fired, someone allegedly tried to kill him.

Everything started to unravel after that. According to "20/20," Alex was taken from rehab for the day to be charged in the shooting hoax. He was then charged with the theft of the Satterfield settlement (more on that shortly). The day Alex left rehab, he was charged with the murders of his wife and son.

Dozens of financial crimes

"Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" concerns itself almost exclusively with the deaths surrounding the Murdaugh family from 2015 to 2021. What it doesn't get into is just how many financial crimes Alex Murdaugh has been accused of. The PMPED memo that followed Alex's exit from the firm said that he had been misappropriating funds, a white collar term for stealing. This revelation opened the doors on dozens upon dozens of incidents where Alex is said to have defrauded his clients and/or embezzled money from his law firm, totalling millions of dollars.

Not only do these crimes amount to serious illegal activity on their own merit — a whopping 99 charges have been filed related to these findings — but they seemingly provide a motive for the deaths of Paul and Maggie. Paul's boating accident in 2019 had yet to manifest into a criminal trial, but a civil case against him on behalf of the Beach family was progressing, with a hearing scheduled for June 10 — three days after the murders. That hearing was to ask for an accounting of the family's financial records, which Alex presumably didn't want to release. Beach family attorney Mark Tinsley told "20/20" that, following the June 7 murders, the hearing for the civil suit was indefinitely canceled, effectively providing Alex with a reprieve. And, if Maggie was filing for divorce as has been suggested, then Alex's finances would have been scrutinized in that scenario, as well.

The Satterfield settlement

One of the most egregious of Alex Murdaugh's financial crimes is the one perpetrated against the family of his former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" goes into detail about Satterfield's long relationship with the Murdaughs, as well as her death in 2018. It tells of how Satterfield fell and hit her head on some brick steps and the inconsistent accounts of what happened — Alex claimed to be at the scene and talking to Gloria, and he said that Gloria told him it was the dogs that tripped her. The show then seems to debunk these statements with the 911 call, in which Paul and Maggie's voices are evident, but Alex's is not. It also features witness statements that say he wasn't there at the time of the fall and that Gloria never regained consciousness, then or ever.

The Netflix true crime series also touches upon the plan Alex came up with to sue himself in order to get a payment from the insurance company for Gloria's sons, and his ultimate betrayal of taking the entire $4.3million for himself. What it leaves out is the satisfactory ending to this tragic tale, possibly because it had already finished filming. Thankfully, the Satterfield sons were eventually awarded over $7.5million in settlements from Murdaugh and his co-conspirators.

The trial

"Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal" was made before the trial of Alex Murdaugh began, so some damning evidence that came to light in the courtroom is missing from the Netflix show. As noted in the "20/20" episode "Murdaugh Family Murders," one of the most powerful exhibits the prosecution showed to the jury was the detailed timeline they assembled. The report included GPS data, steps data, and second-by-second records of all calls and text messages between the parties. Crucially, Alex placed his 911 call just 19 seconds after he arrived at the dog kennels. As the prosecution pointed out, this would not have been enough time to check the pulses of his wife and son — whose bodies were 30 feet apart — before he called for help, as he initially claimed he had done.

Other damning evidence included two videos found on Paul Murdaugh's phone. One was a video showing Alex wearing different clothes than he had on when police arrived. In the second video Paul took at the kennels minutes before his death, Maggie and Alex can be heard talking in the background, voiding Alex's alibi. Almost 20 months after the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, and following a six-week criminal trial, jurors needed only 45 minutes to convict Alex Murdaugh on both counts. The next day, he was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole.