Content warning: This article contains references to murder some may find upsetting. Reader discretion is advised.

UPDATE 3/3/23: Disgraced lawyer Alex Murdaugh was convicted for the murders of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, on March 2, 2023. The jury reportedly only deliberated for three hours before returning with a guilty verdict. He was also convicted for two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime

Alex was sentenced to life in prison without parole, getting two life sentences. Though South Carolina is a death penalty state — the last execution took place in 2011 — the prosecution said in December 2022 this would not be a death penalty case.

According to NBC News, Alex "blinked repeatedly but was stone-faced as he stood in court as the guilty verdicts were read."

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: It's time to get your true crime hard hats on, because we're going excavating for the truth!

Alex Murdaugh, the patriarch of a prominent South Carolina family, seemed to have it all: a loving wife, two beautiful sons, and a successful law career. However, his presumably happy facade would soon crumble and his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul, would be shot to death on the Murdaugh family land on June 7, 2021.

The three-part Netflix docuseries, Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal, takes a deep dive into all the mysterious deaths that can be linked back in some way, shape, or form to Alex Murdaugh. Currently, Alex is on trial for the murder of Maggie and Paul — but what was his motive for the heinous crime?

As episode 2 explains, Buster Murdaugh, Alex's oldest son, had been kicked out of the University of South Carolina for plagiarism. Moreover, Alex and Maggie's marriage had become stressful, in part, because "Maggie Murdaugh was becoming aware that bills were going unpaid." According to Valerie Bauerlein, a journalist interviewed for the docuseries, there were rumors Maggie hired a forensic accountant to help with their bills and also that she met with a divorce attorney.

To add to the stress, Paul had been charged for his role in the death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, who died after an intoxicated Paul crashed his boat into a piling in February 2019. The docuseries stated Mallory suffered blunt-force trauma to her head and then drowned.

Per CBS News, Paul had been charged with "boating under the influence resulting in the death of Mallory Beach and serious bodily injuries to two passengers." He pled not guilty to all the charges, but was murdered before he could stand trial.

murdaugh murders a southern scandal center paul murdaugh in murdaugh murders a southern scandal cr courtesy of netflix © 2023
Paul Murdaugh
Courtesy of Netflix

Needless to say, it was a tumultuous time for the Murdaughs. As mentioned during the Netflix series, Alex had been caught by his own law firm — a company his great-grandfather had started — misappropriating money from the firm's clients, and was forced to resign.

One of those clients was the family of his late housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. In 2018, Gloria had supposedly tripped and fallen on his property while she was working and Alex sued himself for wrongful death to be able to get money for Gloria's two sons. Alex ended up pocketing over $4 million from the death settlement; Gloria's family allegedly never received a penny.

As Netflix Life stated, "Approximately one month before Gloria died on the Moselle property [the Murdaugh's land], [Alex] took out commercial insurance and then allegedly collected more than $4.3 million from the insurance claim related to her death."

murdaugh murders a southern scandal center alex murdaugh in murdaugh murders a southern scandal cr netflix © 2023
Alex Murdaugh
Courtesy of Netflix

According to Satterfield family attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, who were interviewed for the docuseries, "We have evidence that [Alex misappropriated money from other clients of the Murdaugh firm] many times predating [misappropriating money from the Satterfield family]."

The lawyers claimed Alex had embezzled millions of dollars and had been doing so since 2015. During their investigation, they contacted the FBI and Alex was eventually arrested in October 2021 for swindling money from the Satterfield family. Keep in mind, this is about four months after Alex's wife and son were brutally murdered. In July 2022, Alex was indicted for their murders, with his homicide trial beginning in January 2023 and is still ongoing at the time of this writing.

Per The Post and Courier, prosecutors at the murder trial claim Alex's motive for murdering his wife and son was "a desperate attempt to portray himself as a victim and cover up his wrongdoing" because his financial crimes "were about to be exposed."

The Guardian echoed that theory, reporting, "By murdering his wife and son, prosecutors said, Murdaugh hoped to buy time and sympathy."

Moreover, Morgan Doughty, Paul's ex-girlfriend, said in the docuseries, "I think Mr. Alex, facing all this heat from the media, from the court... He's about to be exposed from all angles of cheating and lying and stealing. I do believe that Alex Murdaugh would kill Paul and Maggie."

Headshot of Stacey Grant
Stacey Grant
Senior Editor

Stacey Grant is a senior editor at Seventeen who runs the brand's Snapchat Discover channel. She also covers entertainment topics specializing in nostalgia, such as classic '90s and '00s Disney Channel and Nickelodeon content.