Police have launched a criminal investigation into the 2018 ‘trip-and-fall’ death of Alex Murdaugh’s housekeeper Gloria Satterfield (pictured)
Alex Murdaugh has been accused of pocketing a $4 million insurance payout owed to the grieving sons of his longtime housekeeper after he convinced them to sue him for wrongful death when she died in his home.
Police launched a criminal investigation into the 2018 ‘trip-and-fall’ death of Murdaugh’s housekeeper Gloria Satterfield just one day after investigators said the legal scion had paid a hitman to kill him in a botched assisted suicide scheme following the double murder of his wife and son.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is also investigating the the subsequent handling of Satterfield’s estate.
The 57-year-old had been the Murdaugh housekeeper and nanny for around 25 years when she suffered a fatal brain injury following a mystery fall inside the family home. She died several weeks later on February 26, 2018.
According to Eric Bland, the attorney working for Satterfield’s family, Murdaugh convinced Satterfield’s sons, Michael Satterfield and Brian Harriott, to file a wrongful death lawsuit against him, and introduced them to a lawyer – his best friend and college roommate – who handled the case.
Alex Murdaugh (left) is being accused of swindling the sons of his deceased housekeeper out of $4 million. Eric Bland (right) is representing the Satterfield family in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday against Murdaugh, Fleming, Westendorff, Palmetto State Bank and Moss, Kuhn, Fleming, P.A.
The disgraced South Carolina lawyer allegedly convinced Satterfield’s sons to file a wrongful death suit against him and connected them to his best friend, lawyer Corey Fleming, to file the suit (Pictured September 16, 2021, in Varnville, South Carolina)
Murdaugh settled the wrongful death claim with the housekeeper’s family for $500,000 in 2018. Bland said on Friday that the figure paid out by insurance policies was actually closer to $4 million.
Satterfield’s family sued Murdaugh on Wednesday claiming he had not paid out ‘one single dime’ of the settlement.
‘We’ve learned since the lawsuit was filed that the amount that has been unaccounted for and misappropriated is $4 million and we were told that those monies were misappropriated either whole or in part by Alex Murdaugh,’ Bland told Fox News.
‘He had home owners insurance and access umbrella coverage and so he took these boys to his best friend, his college roommate Corey Fleming and told them to bring a lawsuit against him and then he admitted liability, which forced these insurance companies that insured him to pay large amounts of money in connection with Gloria Satterfield’s death,’ Bland explained.
The new lawsuit against Murdaugh claims that following Satterfield’s death, he claimed ‘he was going to take care of the boys because he was going to ‘sue [himself]’ for the death.’
Fleming then allegedly chose a mutual friend of his and Murdaugh’s, Chad Westendorf, to represent Satterfield’s estate in the prosecution instead of one of Satterfield’s family members.
This made Westendorf the only person required ‘to petition the court for approval of any future settlements and/or appear at any future hearings to approve settlements.’
The new lawsuit claims that ‘Tony and Brian did not participate in the settlement negotiations; Neither Tony, nor Brian signed any settlement agreements; Neither Tony, nor Brian, were told that any money was recovered for them.’
Satterfield’s family is suing Murdaugh, Fleming, Westendorff, Palmetto State Bank and Moss, Kuhn, Fleming, P.A. for the alleged insurance fraud scheme.
Murdaugh’s attorney denies he had any involvement with Satterfield’s death and said the insurance company that paid the money determined it was an accident. Bland says it was paid out, but not to his clients.
‘$4 million was paid and my clients got none of it. And they were supposed to get all of it,’ Bland stated.
Murdaugh appeared in court on Thursday where his lawyer pointed to the mysterious murder of his wife and son and his opioid addiction, suggesting it led to Murdaugh’s life spiraling out of control.
But Bland wasn’t buying it. He claims Murdaugh’s legal team is ‘casting a defense that doesn’t exist.’
Buster, Margaret ‘Maggie’, Paul and Richard Alex ‘Alec’ Murdaugh (left to right). Paul and Maggie were shot dead at the family hunting lodge June 7
Family murders, deaths, drug addictions, thefts and arrests: The riddles facing investigators who’ve now charged Alex Murdaugh
2015: Teenager Stephen Smith dies
Smith was found on the side of the road.
Cops investigating the double murder have also reopened the case into a 2015 hit-and-run of teen Stephen Smith
Police officially rule his death a hit-and-run but he had suffered blunt force trauma to the head
His mother has since shared her belief that she thinks he was killed in a hate-crime because he was gay
Case notes obtained by DailyMail.com revealed Paul’s older brother Buster was named multiple times in the investigation.
Police wanted to know more about his relationship with Stephen
Stephen’s mother said he had been having a ‘fling’.
In a deposition years later, one of Paul’s friends said the family had ‘covered’ other killings up.
He mentioned Smith’s death.
2018: Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield dies
Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Sattlerfield dies
Gloria died after ‘falling’ down the stairs in the family house
The family gave her family $500.000 in a wrongful death settlement but it’s unclear why her death was ruled to be their fault.
Alex Murdaugh was listed as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Satterfield was only 57 when she died.
She left behind a husband and children.
Her death was also mentioned in the deposition by Paul Murdaugh’s friend.
2019: Mallory Beach dies being thrown from boat driven by Paul Murdaugh
Mallory Beach, 19, died in February 2019
Paul was charged afterwards because he’d been drinking and was behaving ‘belligerently’ that night.
He had been released on bond.
Other kids were on the boat but were unharmed.
One testified that they were scared to speak about the Murdaugh family because they knew how to ‘cover things up’.
That boy named Stephen Smith and the housekeeper, and claimed Paul pushed her
June 7 2021: Paul and Maggie are murdered
The mom and son were found shot dead at the family home in Hampton, South Carolina.
Alex Murdaugh says he found them at the home.
The medical examiner said the pair had been dead for an hour at most when he discovered them.
Alex’s son Paul, 22, (left) and wife Maggie, 52, (right) were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds on June 7 at the family hunting lodge
Alex’s father Randolph Murdaugh III died ‘peacefully’ at home three days after Maggie and Paul were found shot dead
June 10 2021: Alex’s 81-year-old father Randolph Murdaugh III dies ‘naturally’ and ‘peacefully’ at home
September 3: Alex resigns from his law firm amid claims he misused funds
The firm has hired a forensic investigator to go through the accounts
September 4: Alex calls 911 claiming he’s been shot in the head in a drive-by.
He only had ‘surface’ wounds and was also able to call his brother
September 6: Alex resigns from his law firm
The South Carolina legal scion releases a statement confirming his resignation from the firm and announcing he has entered rehab
He said: ‘I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated these murders.’
September 16: Alex turns himself into police over insurance fraud scheme
Murdaugh handed himself over to cops in connection to insurance fraud scheme where he arranged his own killing so that his surviving son could collect $10 million payout.
He faces charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report.
SLED said that it had opened a criminal investigation into Satterfield’s death based on a request from the Hampton County Coroner, as well as ‘information gathered during the course of our other ongoing investigations involving Alex Murdaugh.’
The investigation into the housekeeper’s death marks the latest twist in the Murdaugh family saga, which gained national attention when Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and son Paul were shot dead at the family’s hunting lodge on June 7.
Three months on, their deaths remain a mystery with no arrests made and no suspects or persons of interest named.
Then, on September 4, Murdaugh was shot in the head and rushed to hospital where he survived, in what his own attorney now admits was a botched assisted suicide scheme.
He checked himself into rehab days later for opioid addiction and resigned from his law firm as it emerged he was being investigated for allegedly misappropriating millions of dollars of funds.
Investigators alleged Tuesday Murdaugh had in fact orchestrated his own shooting, paying a former client to kill him so that his surviving son Buster could collect a $10 million life insurance payment.
Satterfield is also the third mystery death connected to the Murdaugh family, which has come under closer scrutiny following the double murder of Paul and Maggie.
At the time of his murder, Paul was awaiting trial for the 2019 death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, who was killed as a passenger in a boat he crashed while allegedly heavily intoxicated.
Police have also investigated the family for possible ties to the 2015 death of gay teen Stephen Smith, which was ruled a hit-and-run, though no suspects have ever been named or charged.
SLED has also reopened the investigation into Smith’s death in the wake of Paul and Maggie’s murders.
Investigators are weighing all three suspicious deaths — those of Satterfield, Beach and Smith — as potential motives in the murder of Paul and Maggie.
Alex Murdaugh and wife Maggie. Satterfield’s family sued Murdaugh Wednesday claiming he had not paid out ‘one single dime’ of the settlement reached for her ‘wrongful death’
Spokesman Tommy Crosby said the SLED was opening the investigation into Satterfield’s death at the request of the Hampton County Coroner ‘as well as information gathered during the course of our other ongoing investigations involving Alex Murdaugh.’
Hampton County Coroner Angela Topper sent a letter to the department saying the 57-year-old’s death was not reported to the coroner at the time and no autopsy was carried out.
The death certificate cites the manner of death as ‘natural’, wrote Topper – something that ‘is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fail accident’ and that does not match the information documented in the wrongful death suit.
In the petition for approval of a wrongful death settlement, Satterfield is listed as dying as a ‘result of injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident, in Hampton County’, writes Topper.
Alex Murdaugh is listed as the defendant.
‘In light of the inconsistencies noted above, I feel that it is prudent to pursue an investigation into Gloria Satterfield’s death,’ she wrote.
An attorney for Satterfield’s estate filed a lawsuit against Murdaugh on Wednesday claiming he had failed to pay out any of the settlement in the almost three years since it was reached.
‘My client has not been paid one single dime since this was settled in 2020,’ said Eric Bland, according to WTOC.
‘My job is to get information and find out why these boys didn’t get any money when there was a settlement.’
The suit claims Satterfield was ‘part of the Murdaugh family’ after working for them for decades.
‘In February, 2018, Gloria Satterfield fell while working in Alex Murdaugh’s home. The exact details of the fall remain unclear to the Plaintiffs,’ the suit says.
Following her death, Murdaugh allegedly told Satterfield’s two sons Brian Harriott and Tony Satterfield he would ‘take care of’ them.
According to the suit, Murdaugh introduced Satterfield’s family to an attorney who would represent them in the wrongful death claim.
This attorney – Tony Fleming – was also one of Murdaugh’s ‘best friends and college roommate’ and the godfather of his son Paul, it is claimed.
Murdaugh’s attorney admits that he orchestrated his own shooting in botched suicide attempt but insists he is innocent in the murder of his wife and son
‘Hitman’ Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was arrested on Tuesday charges of conspiring in the assisted suicide scheme
Alex Murdaugh’s attorney Dick Harpootlian, who is also a South Carolina state senator, on Wednesday admitted his client’s involvement in his own shooting, but said he was innocent of murdering his wife and son.
Murdaugh survived being shot in the head on September 4 while changing a tire on a rural highway, after allegedly hiring a hitman on himself so his surviving son could collect a $10 million life insurance payment.
Harpootlian says that the motive for the June 7 murder of Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, 52, and son, Paul, 22, was ‘personal’ and that the identity of the suspect could be revealed sometime this week.
Murdaugh has previously said that he has an ‘iron clad’ alibi for his wife and son’s murders. He discovered the bodies at the family hunting lodge and called 911.
Harpootlian told NBC’s TODAY that Murdaugh, 53, was addicted to opioids and fell into depression after the murder of his wife and son.
The lawyer says that his client hatched the hitman scheme ‘to protect his child’ – 25-year-old Buster Murdaugh.
‘He was in a dark, dark, dark place and he wanted to help his remaining son, Buster, in any way he could,’ Harpootlian says.
‘He thought this was the only way he could leave him with anything.’
‘It was an attempt on his part to do something to protect his child,’ Harpootlian says of the suicide-for-hire scheme.
Alex Murdaugh’s lawyer, Dick Harpootlian (left), says he knows who killed the South Carolina legal scion’s wife and son earlier this year though he does expect his client to be arrested for embezzling funds from a law firm to fuel an addiction to painkillers. Murdaugh is seen right with his late wife, Maggie
Investigators work the scene where Alex Murdaugh was shot in the head and injured on Sept. 4, 2021 after he had car trouble on a rural road in in Hampton County, S.C.
‘He didn’t want law enforcement spending time on this fake crime instead of focusing on solving the murders of Maggie and Paul.’
Harpootlian acknowledged that Murdaugh is likely to be arrested for allegedly misappropriating millions from his own law firm.
Harpootlian told TODAY that he and another lawyer visited Murdaugh at an out-of-state detox facility on Monday.
He said it was the first time he and the other lawyer, Jim Griffin, spoke to Murdaugh ‘when he wasn’t on opioids or Oxy (oxycodone).’
‘He believed that $10 million policy had a suicide exclusion,’ according to the attorney.
‘Suicide exclusions are only good for two years, and he didn’t realize that. So he arranged to have this guy shoot him.’
Exclusive DailyMail.com photos show Richard Alexander ‘Buster’ Murdaugh Jr. at the family’s Edisto Island property in South Carolina on Monday. Buster is Alex Murdaugh’s sole surviving heir after the murder of his brother Paul in June
Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was arrested on Tuesday charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Smith, from Walterboro, South Carolina, is a former client of Murdaugh, 53, who represented him in minor traffic matters as well as a 2015 lawsuit that Smith filed against a forest management company.
According to police, Murdaugh paid Smith to shoot him in the head and kill him, making it look like a random, drive-by attack.
But the plan failed as the shot only grazed his head, according to state police.
On June 7, the bodies of Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and her son Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found by Alex Murdaugh at their South Carolina home.
Alex Murdaugh immediately identified himself on the 911 call and told the operator his ‘wife and child have been shot’ near dog kennels on his property.
‘I’ve been up to it now. It’s bad,’ Murdaugh said.
During the 911 call, dogs could be heard barking in the background and Murdaugh sounded deeply upset and agitated.
He told the operator several times that neither his son or wife was breathing.
No arrests have been made.
Moselle Hunting Lodge where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were gunned down June 7. Their bodies were discovered by Murdaugh by the dog kennels
On June 7, Alex Murdaugh (right) discovered his son Paul and wife Maggie (center) dead at the dog kennels on the family property
Harpootlian adds ‘The murder of his wife and son 90 days ago took a tremendous toll on him.’
The lawyer denied that Alex Murdaugh had anything to do with the deaths of his wife and son.
‘He did not murder them. He is totally distraught about their deaths,’ Harpootlian tells NBC’s TODAY.
Alex Murdaugh’s father, Randolph Murdaugh III, died of cancer the same week that Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were found dead, according to Harpootlian
The lawyer says that in the time he has spent with the family, they were ‘affectionate’ with each other and that there was no indication Alex Murdaugh wanted to do them harm.
Harpootlian also claims that he and Griffin are pursuing leads and have gathered information that may implicate a suspect in the June killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.
The attorney says that he and Griffin have zeroed in on ‘an individual or individuals we believe – may – have some culpability’ or had carried out the murder.
‘We think we’ll know this week whether the one suspect we’re looking at bears further scrutiny and we’ll make that information available to law enforcement,’ Harpootlian says.
When asked what motive this individual may have had in killing Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, Harpootlian says: ‘Well, that would reveal who that person is, but it’s personal.’
‘The motive would be personal.’
Harpootlian says that his client used ‘the vast majority’ of the funds that he is alleged to have embezzled from his law firm ‘to buy drugs.’
The attorney says that he made Alex Murdaugh available for interviews with South Carolina law enforcement.
According to Harpootlian, Alex Murdaugh told investigators that he wrote personal checks to ‘drug dealers’ to obtain the painkillers.
The lawyer says that he left a paper trail that law enforcement officials are now looking at.
When asked if he expects Alex Murdaugh to be arrested, Harpootlian replies: ‘Yes, I think he will be charged.
‘But what he doesn’t want – and we don’t want – is an effort to deal with these issues [which] distract from law enforcement resources that could be used to solve the murders of Maggie and Paul.’
Mallory Beach, 19, was killed in a fatal boating accident in February 2019 when Paul, ‘intoxicated’ and ‘belligerent’ ploughed his father’s boat into a piling in Archers Creek
It was Alex Murdaugh who discovered his wife and son’s bodies near dog kennels on the property and called 911 shortly after 10pm on the evening of June 7.
According to investigators mother and son were killed between 9 and 9.30pm.
Paul suffered fatal shotgun wounds to the head and torso. His mother was killed with a semi-automatic rifle.
Murdaugh was visiting his sick father in hospital on the night of the shooting – Randolph Murdaugh III died three days later after a long battle with cancer.
What little information has emerged since, has only served to deepen the mystery surrounding the events on the Islandton estate in June.
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was awaiting trial on a charge of boating under the influence causing death in a February 2019 crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
Whether local law enforcement agencies tried to obstruct the investigation into the boating death is also being reviewed by state officials.