Murdaugh Murders: A southern scandal review


Aoife Flaherty

The scales of justice were weighed in the Murdaugh trials.

These past few weeks, you might have seen the trial of Alex Murdaugh in the media center. Yet, with no audio playing from the TVs, it is hard to understand the full case. The documentary, Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal does a great job of providing all the history leading up to the trial and provides insight on why a father would kill his wife and child.

On June 7, 2021, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were found shot on their estate by Alex Murdaugh, shocking the whole Hampton County area. Before the murders, the Murdaugh family had a major history in the county, being involved in law enforcement for over 100 years. Everytime a Murdaugh had been involved on the wrong side of an accident, it had been brushed aside. Locals claimed that they feared their power.

Paul and Maggie were not the only victims of the Murdaugh’s. Three other victims, Mallory Beach, Stephen Smith, and Gloria Satterfeild were introduced in the limited series. In the first episode, viewers are given testimonies from four close friends of Paul and Mallory: Anthony Cook who was dating Mallory, Morgan Doughty, Miley Altman, and Connor Cook, all who were present in Mallory’s death. Mallory died from a boating accident caused by the drunk driving of Paul Murdaugh. The scene was set recalling how Paul behaved leading up to the tragedy, and everything that happened after.

The six friends had been out partying and were under the influence of alcohol when Paul insisted they would take his boat back home and that he would drive. Morgan, who at the time was dating Paul, said he was a reckless and stubborn drunk. Connor attempted to take the wheel, but Paul pushed him off. On February 24, 2019 at approximately 2:40 a.m., the boat crashed into the Archers Creek Bridge. Mallory suffered from blunt force trauma and later drowned. Mallory’s parents revealed they received little to no information from authorities and were only informed by the other parents. The Murdaughs rapidly took control over the situation and Paul suffered practically no consequences. He was charged with 3 felony charges and pleaded not guilty, but was killed before he could stand in trial.

The second alleged murder was the recently reopened case of Stephen Smith. Stephen was openly a member of the LGBTQ+ community and received a lot of backlash for it. He was found dead on July 8, 2015, after appearing to be hit by a car. There were rumors he had relations with Buster Murdaugh, but none confirmed. The case is still under re-investigation.

The final alleged victim of the Murdaugh Murders is the wrongful death of Gloria Satterfeild. Gloria worked as the family’s housekeeper and became very close with the family. On February 2, 2018, Maggie Murdaugh called 911 after Gloria fell going up the stairs to their home. She later died in the hospital on February 26. The Murdaughs wanted to compensate Gloria’s two sons, Tony and Brian, for the loss of their mother, so he suggested they sue him for insurance money. A settlement of 7.5 million dollars was reached, yet the sons received none of it–Alex had claimed the money for himself. Another point that connects the Murdaughs to Gloria’s death is that Gloria discovered Alex’s substance abuse several months prior. It is a possibility the Murdaugh’s pushed her to keep her silent.

The trial of Alex Murdaugh ended on March 2 2023, and he was found guilty on all four charges. He has been sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the chance of parole. While the lives lost may not be recovered, justice has been reached.