“I didn’t think it was a credible threat,” his uncle, John Marvin Murdaugh, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday. “If it was, I would have tried to do something or notify someone. But, I guess, maybe I made a mistake.”
The double homicide came as a shock for the small, rural community of Colleton County in the state’s southern Lowlands, made even more striking because of the Murdaugh family’s prominent status in South Carolina, where three generations of Murdaughs once served as elected prosecutors for 87 consecutive years.
Not long after 10 p.m. on June 7, Richard Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh came home to the family estate in Islandton to find his son and wife shot near the outdoor dog kennels on the property, the Island Packet reported. Alex Murdaugh is the son of the last Murdaugh to hold nearby Hampton County’s top prosecutor job, and he works as a part-time prosecutor in that office as well as for the family’s prominent legal firm. When he found his son and wife shot in the yard, he called 911, according to a news release from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, then he called his brothers.
“As soon as I answered the phone, I knew something was wrong,” John Marvin Murdaugh told “Good Morning America.” “He said, ‘Come as fast as you can. Paul and Maggie have been hurt.’ ”
The details of the double shooting remain murky. Police have not yet made any arrests, nor have they named any suspects or persons of interest. The Post and Courier newspaper has been locked in a public records battle with state and county law enforcement agencies to release the homicide report to provide more insight into the investigation.
But the family’s Thursday interview offered a few new details, including the revelation that Paul Murdaugh had been receiving threats since the fatal boating accident in 2019.
A thick fog rolled over Archers Creek as six young friends sped along the water in a 17-foot boat just before 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 24, 2019. When the boat, allegedly driven by Paul Murdaugh, suddenly slammed into a piling near a bridge, all six people were violently tossed from the vehicle.
Five of the boaters, aged 18 to 20, climbed out of the water, but 19-year-old Mallory Beach was nowhere to be seen, the Island Packet reported. One friend jumped back into the river, trying to find her in the dark water. Another called 911, while three more cried on the shore and nursed their injuries from the crash.
The thick fog and darkness hampered search efforts that night. Seven days later, Beach’s body was found in the river. About two months after the accident, a grand jury indicted Paul Murdaugh on three felony charges, including boating under the influence causing death and boating under the influence causing injury. He pleaded not guilty in May 2019, but a trial date was never set, the Island Packet reported.
Although Paul Murdaugh’s uncles acknowledged that he had received online threats after the accident, they denied that the family had any knowledge of people who would want to harm Paul or his mother.
“I really don’t know of any enemies,” Randy Murdaugh IV said on “Good Morning America” on Thursday. “You hear all this talk on the social media with regard to Paul. I don’t know of anybody that would truly be an enemy or truly want to harm them.”
The family also dismissed speculation that their close connections to the legal community and law enforcement agencies had held any sway in the felony case against Paul Murdaugh.
“I see words like ‘dynasty’ used and ‘power,’ ” Randy Murdaugh IV said. “But we’re just regular people. And we’re hurting just like they would be hurting if this had happened to them.”