Who Was Paul Murdaugh? Past Included 2019 Boat Crash That Killed Girl, Other Alcohol-Related Charge in 2017

Paul Murdaugh

Law enforcement officials are investigating whether Paul Murdaugh was the killer's intended target. Some sources say that it's possible Paul was the target and his mother, Maggie, was killed for being there by happenstance, according to local reports.

Paul Murdaugh was found dead alongside his mother late Monday in what authorities have deemed a double-homicide. The savage killings, which took place between 9 and 9:30 p.m. on Monday night outside of their family's South Carolina sprawling estate, has shaken the community. 

Law enforcement officials are investigating the murders. 

At the time of Paul Murdaugh's murder, he had charges pending against him for a 2019 fatal boat crash that took the life of 19-year-old Mallory Beach. Murdaugh was facing three felony counts of boating under the influence.

Beach was ejected from a boat driven by Murdaugh, and belonged to his father, when it crashed into a bridge in Archers Creek around 2:20 a.m. on Feb. 24, 2019. The weather was reportedly musty and foggy that evening and the group of friends were asked to not operate the boat by adults they were with earlier in the night.

The group of friends decided to board the 17-foot boat and, when Murdaugh allegedly accelerated the boat "full throttle" following an "argument" between the group of friends, all six of the passengers were ejected, according to witness testimonies.

Recordings of the 911 calls made during the night of the boat crash were obtained by the Island Packet. One of the dispatchers said that the "fog was pretty thick; at first they couldn't even find where they were."

Murdaugh did not spend any time in jail and pleaded not guilty to the charges in May 2019. A judge released him on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond.

Here's everything we know about Paul Murdaugh and the investigation into his and his mother's deaths so far. 

Paul Murdaugh Had Misdemeanor Charge for Alcohol Possession 2 Years Before the Fatal Boat Crash

According to previous reports, that was not the first time Paul Murdaugh had faced alcohol-related charges.

Murdaugh was accused of possession of alcohol in 2017 on Memorial Day, according to court documents and the Department of Natural Resources in Beaufort County, which confirmed the. misdemeanor charge to the Island Packet.

Murdaugh, who was 17 at the time, was charged on May 29 of that year with "purchase or possession of beer or wine by a minor" by DNR officers, the outlet reported. Two friends of his were also charged that day for underage alcohol possession. Both were also on the boat the night of the crash, the outlet said.

The outlet reported that Paul's father, Richard Alexander, was his attorney in the 2017 case along with another Beaufort attorney.

After the jury trial was rescheduled five times that year, Murdaugh was sentenced in May 2018 to attend an alcohol diversion program.

The charges were later dismissed after the program was completed.

State Senator Dick Harpootlian vouched for Murdaugh's character calling his character "very good," the outlet reported.

The day Murdaugh was charged for alcohol possession, he paid off a $510 fine for a littering charge and a bench warrant issued against him for his "failure to comply" was removed.su

Paul and Maggie Murtaugh Buried Friday and Investigators Still Have Not Named a Suspect

A South Carolina Attorney General spokesman said Tuesday that upon an official certificate of death or acceptable proof the 2019 charges against Murdaugh would be dismissed.

The family of Mallory Beach through their lawyer released a statement Tuesday extending their condolences to the Murdaugh family that said, "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."

The investigation is still in its early stages and no suspect has been named as of Friday, according to authorities who urged that there is "no danger to the public."

One police agency turned the investigation over because of a "conflict of interest" with the family, according to the Island Packet.

The Post and Courier made a public information request for the investigative reports and 911 calls but police have denied those requests.

The outlet first requested documents from the Colleton County Sheriff's Office but on June 9 they informed the Post and Courier that the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is the agency leading the investigation and redirected any inquiries to them.

The Sheriff’s Office asked SLED to take over “due to Alex Murdaugh’s professional involvement with the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office,” Capt. Angela Stallings, a spokeswoman for the department, told the Post and Courier.

A spokesperson for the SLED said that they would not release the documents. They reasoned that the number of redactions that would be necessary to put in the documents would make them unreadable.

The Post and Courier sent a letter signed June 10 to the State Law Enforcement Division, the agency leading the investigation, warning that the public records "serve the public good" and "in the absence of information, rumor and gossip fills the void, which is detrimental to our communities and the people who reside in them."

The Murdaughs Have Been Considered a Local Powerhouse for Generations

For 85 years, the Murdaugh family has served as a legal powerhouse in the state. Three generations of Murdaughs have served as the 14th Circuit Solicitor in the southern part of the state. A solicitor is otherwise referred to as a District Attorney in other jurisdictions throughout the country.

The 14th Circuit Solicitor covers five counties throughout South Carolina including Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper, and prosecutes nearly 5,000 cases per year, according to the Island Packet.

Randolph "Buster" Murdaugh III, the former state solicitor and Paul's grandfather, died Thursday evening, just three days after his grandson and daughter-in-law were found shot, the Island Packet reported. He was 81.

"We are sad to announce the passing of Randolph Murdaugh, III. Please continue to keep the Murdaugh family in your thoughts and prayers," the Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick law firm which was founded nearly 100 years ago, wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday evening.

The late Randolph III served as the 14th Circuit Solicitor for nearly 48 years, according to reports. He was the third generation of the Murdaug family to serve in that position. He served from 1987 after he was appointed to fill his retiring father's space, until 2005 when he decided to return to his old law firm, according to Island Pocket.

As a solicitor, he tried over 200 murder cases, the Augusta Chronicle reported.

He was ill at the time of his death, sources close to the family told the outlet. He was the eldest member of the Murdaugh family.

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