(Reuters) — A prominent South Carolina attorney has been arrested and charged with conspiring to have himself shot dead so his son could collect a $10 million insurance payout, a state police agency said Thursday.
Alex Murdaugh, who survived the Sept. 4 shooting, has admitted to plotting with Curtis Edward Smith, 61, to cause his own death, according to a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) affidavit.
Murdaugh, whose wife and son were murdered in June and who was recently fired from his law firm following embezzlement allegations, was arrested on Thursday and booked at the local detention center, the SLED said in a news release.
Murdaugh, 53, was charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and filing a false police report.
“I can assure you that SLED agents will continue working to bring justice to anyone involved with any criminal act associated with these ongoing investigations,” SLED Chief Mark Keel said. “The arrests in this case are only the first step in that process.”
Murdaugh’s addiction to opioids and the onset of a “massive depression” over the deaths of his wife and another son drove him to arrange for his own shooting, NBC reported on Wednesday, citing comments by his attorney, Richard Harpootlian.
The attorney did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
On June 7, Murdaugh’s wife, Margaret, 52, and son Paul, 22, were shot and killed outside the family’s hunting estate. Murdaugh reported their deaths to 911, and those killings remain under investigation.
The insurance payout was to benefit his surviving son, Buster.
Earlier this week, the police said they were investigating Murdaugh after his former employer, local law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, & Detrick, alleged that he had misappropriated funds.
On Wednesday, the police said they had also opened a criminal investigation of the 2018 death of Gloria Satterfield, a longtime housekeeper for the Murdaugh family who, according to court records, died after a “trip and fall” accident in the Murdaugh home.