Prominent South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh turned himself in to authorities Thursday afternoon admitting that he attempted to stage his own death as part of a botched scheme to have his life insurance paid out to his remaining son.
Murdaugh, whose wife and other son were killed last month, has been charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said in a press release.
"Agents of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Thursday arrested Richard Alexander 'Alex' Murdaugh, 53, in connection to the shooting incident on Sept. 4 in which he conspired with Curtis Edward Smith to assist him in committing suicide for the explicit purpose of allowing a beneficiary to collect life insurance," SLED agents said in the release.
Murdaugh's lawyers said their client thought up the plan in a state of depression over the loss of his family members and amid his struggles to stop abusing oxycodone, the New York Times reported. The paper noted that Murdaugh has maintained that he had no involvement in his family's murders.
One of Murdaugh's lawyers added that their client incorrectly believed that his life insurance policy would not pay out to his son if his death was ruled a suicide.
Attorney Says Alex Murdaugh 'Decided To End His Life' After Murders Of His Wife And Son www.youtube.com
On Sept. 4, Murdaugh was shot in the head by Smith but ending up surviving. He reportedly suffered a fractured skull and was able to check out of the hospital only two days later.
Smith, 61, has reportedly been charged with assisted suicide, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, pointing and presenting a firearm, and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.
The alleged suicide-for-hire plot was the latest in a dramatic series of events starting with the fatal shooting of Murdaugh's wife Margaret, 52, and son Paul, then 22, outside of the family's home in Islandton, about an hour north of Hilton Head Island. The double-homicide remains unsolved and under active investigation.
Following his wife and son's death, Murdaugh allegedly spiraled further into an already-present opioid addiction, during which time he illegally converted money from his clients and his law firm to his own use to obtain drugs. Murdaugh admitted as much and has since had his state license to practice law suspended.
The series of tragic events have put Murdaugh and his powerful family under the microscope in recent months, particularly on three other deaths involving the family in recent years. Two of those deaths are now being investigated by police.