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S.C. double slaying hits well-known family: What we know today

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 9:09 AM EDT
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ISLANDTON, S.C. (WIS/WCSC) - Investigators with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division are searching for clues to find the killer of a mother and son in Colleton County.

Margaret Murdaugh, 52, and her son, Paul Murdaugh, 22, were shot to death, Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey said. The two died from gunshot wounds but did not say where they were shot or how many times they were wounded.

The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call at about 10 p.m. Monday that stated two people were dead on a property in the 4100 block of Moselle Road in the Islandton area.

Deputies found the mother and her son at the scene. The sheriff’s office called in SLED to assist with the investigation.

The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office referred inquiries about the case to SLED Tuesday morning, saying there was no threat to the public.

The property is registered to the Murdaugh family, a well-known family in the Colleton and Hampton County areas.

The Law Firm of Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick released a statement Tuesday afternoon thanking the public for “the many calls and condolences in the aftermath of the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.”

HERE’S DRONE VIDEO OF THE CRIME SCENE:

The Murdaugh family had a longtime connection to the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, which serves Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper Counties, according to the office’s website.

Hampton attorney Randolph Murdaugh Sr., became the first 14th Circuit Solicitor to be elected into the position in 1920. The elder Murdaugh was killed in a train wreck in 1940 and was succeeded by his son, Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh, who held the position until his retirement in 1986. His son, Randolph Murdaugh III, was elected and served for almost 20 years until he went into private practice in 2005.

Paul Murdaugh was charged in 2019 in the death of a 19-year-old University of South Carolina student who died in a boat crash near Parris Island in late February of that year; on Tuesday afternoon, officials with the attorney general’s office said the charges against Murdaugh will be dropped.

Police reports from the night of the incident stated there were six underage people on a boat who were all “grossly intoxicated that evening.”

Mallory Beach was reported missing after the crash. Her body was found a week later near the Broad River Landing in Beaufort.

In April, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office announced three indictments against Murdaugh: one for boating under the influence causing a death and two counts of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury.

Several members of the Murdaugh family were named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Beach’s family. The lawsuit names a restaurant and several people the Beach family alleged played a role in providing alcohol to the minors on the boat. The lawsuit named members from three generations of Paul Murdaugh’s relatives.

Harvey said forensic autopsies are scheduled for Thursday.

Reaction to the slayings

Colleton County residents are shocked by the double homicide in Islandton.

“I’m devastated over the whole situation,” said Dexter Drain, who lives in Walterboro.

“It’s awful,” said Jamie Bell, who lives in Colleton County. “You don’t expect to get shot on your own property, especially on your own land.”

“I send my best wishes out to everyone that was involved,” Drain said.

A statement regarding the deaths of Paul and Margaret Murdaugh was released on behalf of some of the Beach family by the office of Gooding and Gooding:

“The Beach Family extends its deepest and warmest sympathies to the Murdaugh family during this terrible time. Having suffered the devastating loss of their own daughter, the family prays that the Murdaughs can find some level of peace from this tragic loss. They would like the family and the community to know that their thoughts and continued prayers are with the Murdaughs. It is their most sincere hope that someone will come forward and cooperate with authorities so that the perpetrator of these senseless crimes can be brought to justice.”

From reports by WCSC, WTOC and WIS