April 16, 2024

Alex Murdaugh asked point-blank if he killed his wife, son in police interview

Alex Murdaugh was asked point-blank if he murdered his wife and son in a police interview played for jurors Wednesday at his double murder trial in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Agents David Owen and Jeff Croft, of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), interviewed Murdaugh for a third time on Aug. 11, 2021, at their regional office.Β 

As the interrogation winded down, Owen calmly asked, “Did you kill Maggie?”

“Did I kill my wife? No,” answered Murdaugh, incredulously, as his friend and lawyer, Cory Fleming, sat nearby.Β 

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Fleming later had his law license suspended and was charged in connection to Murdaugh’s theft of client settlement funds.

“Do you know who did?” Owen continued, staring directly at Murdaugh, who was seated opposite him in a chair.Β 

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“No, I do not know who did it,” Murdaugh replied. Owen asked similar questions about Paul Murdaugh.

“Do you think I killed Maggie?” asked Murdaugh.

Owen threw up his hands and said, “I have to go where the evidence and the facts take me.”

Murdaugh is on trial for gunning down his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and his 22-year-old son, Paul, in June 2021, on the family’s hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina.Β 

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It was the first time investigators asked Murdaugh directly if he was responsible for the heinous murders.

Prosecutor John Meadors paused the interrogation video and asked Owen, the lead investigator, if Murdaugh was a suspect.

“He was the only known suspect at the time, yes,” he replied. Owen said what stood out most to investigators were the numerous inconsistencies in Murdaugh’s statements.

He said he was never at the dog kennels the night of the killings, but a video later recovered from Paul’s phone placed Murdaugh at the crime scene at 8:44 p.m. – three minutes before prosecutors allege the mother and son were shot to death.

Murdaugh said it was a surprise that Maggie had shown up that night at Moselle, but her sister told investigators Murdaugh had pressured her to go there.

The disbarred attorney told agents he’d left the hunting estate, known as Moselle, a little after 9 p.m. to visit his mother in Almeda for about 45 minutes. It turned out he was only there for 21 minutes.Β 

On cross-examination, defense lawyer Jim Griffin grilled Owen on flaws in the murder probe – including that investigators didn’t search the home of Murdaugh’s mother until September.Β 

Murdaugh had given investigators permission to access all the family’s properties.Β 

“Do you agree that was an opportunity missed?” Griffin asked Owen.Β 

“Yes,” the agent replied, sheepishly. Griffin also zeroed in on the extremely tight timeline for the crime.

“[Murdaugh] would have had to brutally murder his wife and son some time after 8:50 p.m. and 9:06 p.m. and dispose of the murder weapons, right?”

“Yes,” Owen replied.Β 

Murdaugh started up his Chevrolet Suburban at 9:06 p.m. and drove to his mother’s home without stopping, according to data retrieved from the vehicle.

Β The rifle and shotgun used in the killings were never recovered.

Agents also never asked Murdaugh for the blue shirt or khaki pants he was wearing in the 7:38 p.m. Snapchat video recorded about an hour before the slayings.Β 

Prosecutors have repeatedly highlighted that his clothes in that clip are different from what he was wearing after the murders.

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Griffin suggested in his questioning that SLED and the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office conducted such a sloppy probe that they failed to pursue the real killer.

The cross-examination took a surprising turn to Murdaugh’s alleged drug dealer and distant cousin Curtis “Cousin Eddie” Smith.Β 

Griffin established that Murdaugh was paying up to $50,000 a week to Smith for drugs to fuel his opioid addiction.Β 

Smith was getting these drugs from the Sandhill gang and skimming off the top, Griffin said.Β 

“You learnedΒ Eddie owed these drug gang members a lot of money for drugs that were sold to Alex?” Griffin asked.Β 

Owen didn’t dispute the statement.Β 

Griffin appeared to be suggesting that the slayings of Maggie and Paul were hits by the gang.

After jurors were dismissed for the day, Judge Clifton Newman reversed an earlier ruling barring testimony about a failed suicide-for-hire plot involving Smith.

Newman said that the defense had opened the door by asking Owen about the drug peddling relative.Β 

Murdaugh allegedly hired Smith to shoot him in the head Sept. 4, 2021, so his living son, Buster Murdaugh, could collect a $10 million life insurance policy. But Smith missed.Β 

Murdaugh and Smith were later charged with insurance fraud and other crimes for the scheme.

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