'Murdaugh Murders' shows how a prominent Southern attorney fell from grace

The 'Murdaugh Murders' Netflix trailer sparked curiosity, and now the man at the center of it all has just been sentenced

alex murdaugh trial
(Image credit: Joshua Boucher/The State/Pool/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Murdaugh Murders, Netflix's new true crime documentary, explores how one prominent Southern family lost the reputation it worked over 100 years to build. 

In South Carolina, Alex Murdaugh was considered "the law," according to the Netflix doc, Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal docu-series, which premiered on February 22. But after questionable behavior in the office and mysterious deaths surrounding his family, people began to suspect that the lawyer was not the admirable professional they believed him to be. 

Now, the project has been released, and Alex Murdaugh has just been sentenced.

Watch the 'Murdaugh Murders' Netflix trailer:

In the two-minute clip, we're introduced to a high-profile family with a notorious fall from grace: first with the death of a young girl, Mallory Beach, and later the double homicide of Alex Murdaugh's wife Maggie and his son Paul. 

"There are facts that don't add up and bodies that are tied to this family," we hear in the teaser. 

The facts presented all seem a bit unclear, and it is rather difficult to piece together what transpired in this small South Carolina town. The details are messy, just like Murdaugh's story.

'Murdaugh Murders': what actually happened?

In June 2021, Alex Murdaugh left his home around 9pm to check on his mother. When he returned, he claims to have found his wife and son, Paul, dead. Although it's unclear whether or not surveillance footage captured what actually transpired in the area surrounding the Islandton home, no evidence was discovered.

It's believed that Murdaugh staged these killings to cover up the financial burdens he was facing, which included defrauding former clients out of $8.8 million. This fact was discovered in September 2021, three months after his wife and son's deaths. Once exposed, Murdaugh elicited the help of a friend and distant cousin, Curtis Edward Smith, to shoot him. If Murdaugh made this scheme look like a murder, he believed it would allow his other son, Buster, to take advantage of his life insurance policy. His original claim upon arriving at the hospital was that he was shot in the head while changing a flat tire on the side of the road, but the truth ultimately came out when authorities discovered he was not alone, as he had claimed.

Murdaugh was jailed in October 2021 after he had been charged with stealing from a former client, but it wasn't until July 2022 that he was indicted on two counts of murder, according to The New York Times

The trial for the murders began in late January 2023. His son, Buster, has testified, and now a Colleton County jury will begin their deliberations, which could land Murdaugh up to 30 years in prison, according to CBS. However, this case is separate from an impending trial about his financial wrongdoings.

Who is Mallory Beach from the 'Murdaugh Murders'?

Murdaugh's son, Paul, had been involved in a fatal boating accident with friends that left 19-year-old Mallory Beach dead, and people were upset that the authorities had seemingly not taken the accident seriously enough. Paul was allegedlly driving the boat, but police reports indicated that it was unclear who was behind the wheel, The Times reported. It further stated that Paul faced a charge of boating under the influence causing death and two charges of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury.

When Maggie and Paul were killed, Murdaugh revealed to the police that his son had received death threats after the boating accident. It's made people question whether he had planned to use this fact to cover up his wrong-doings. 

Shortly after the accident, Murdaugh was indicted and charged with three felony counts of boating under the influence, including causing the death of Mallory Beach and seriously injuring two fellow passengers. Ultimately, nothing had transpired because of his death. 

"With Paul not being here now, I don't think my niece, Mallory, will get justice," Beach's aunt, Lynn Reavis, told CBS News. "Because with both of them being deceased, it just ended. The case ended. All I ever wanted was for him to get on the stand and say, 'I'm sorry.' That's all I ever wanted to hear." 

What about the Murdaugh family housekeeper?

In 2018, Gloria Satterfield, a longtime housekeeper for the family, supposedly tripped down the stairs and died. At her funeral arrangements, Murdaugh put her sons in touch with a lawyer, his friend Corey Fleming, per The Times. Though Fleming reached a $4.3 million settlement with Murdaugh and his insurers, Satterfield's sons did not receive the portion of the money they were supposed to be entitled to. 

What about Stephen Smith?

In 2015, 19-year-old Stephen Smith was found dead close to the Murdaugh home, though arrests were not made. Authorities had suspected it was a hit and run or a shooting, but now it's now come into question if Murdaugh was somehow involved, though authorities haven't made it known why they're opening up the case and exploring this potential. 

Alex Murdaugh sentencing

On Friday, March 3, Judge Clifton Newman handed down two consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole to Alex Murdaugh. According to The New York Times, he called the defense "not credible" and “an assault on the integrity of the judicial system."

The jury hadn't even deliberated for three hours before reaching a verdict. Throughout the trial, Murdaugh admitted to his financial wrongdoings but claimed he did not murder his family. 

"I’m innocent. I would never hurt my wife, Maggie, and I would never hurt my son, Paul-Paul," he said, according to The Times

For more twisted real-life stories, check out the best true crime on Netflix.

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.