BLUFFTON, SC – A new twist emerged in the complex and deadly saga surrounding prominent South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh on Wednesday after the family of his former housekeeper, who died in 2018 at her home, sued the lawyer .
The development of Gloria Satterfield’s death comes as the fourth generation attorney from Hampton, South Carolina is linked to several state inquiries, including the murders of his wife and son, allegations of Murdaugh stole money from his family’s law firm, drug addiction and suicide-leasing land for a $ 10 million life insurance policy.
South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Division (SLED) said on Wednesday it had opened a new investigation into Satterfield’s death. SLED is already investigating several other criminal cases involving Murdaugh or his family in one way or another, including the unsolved June 7 murders of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, in the Hunting Estate. of the family.
“Based on a request from the Hampton County Coroner earlier today, as well as information gathered during our other ongoing investigations involving Alex Murdaugh, SLED is opening a criminal investigation into the death of Gloria Satterfield and the management of his estate, ”the agency said in a statement.
Earlier today, the county coroner sent a letter to SLED chief Mark Keel, stating that Satterfield’s death at Murdaugh’s home had never been reported to the coroner’s office, and that an autopsy was not had not been performed despite the fact that her mode of death was listed as “natural” from the injuries she suffered. to stumble and fall.
Related:South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh was shot by man in connection with $ 10 million life insurance plan, police say
Coroner Angie Topper noted that “the mode of death was deemed ‘natural’ which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident.” Satterfield, of Furman, South Carolina, was the governess of the Murdaugh family for more than two decades before her death, according to WYFF-4.
Along with the investigation, a new trial was also filed in Satterfield’s death. Chad Westendorf, a banker at Palmetto State Bank, initially filed a wrongful death complaint in 2018 and court documents show a settlement was reached for $ 500,000.
But on Wednesday, the heirs to Satterfield’s estate filed a second civil lawsuit against Murdaugh, Westendorf and other lawyers saying they had not received any money from the settlement.
The lawsuit alleges a civil conspiracy and claims that “Gloria Satterfield’s children did not receive the first dollar” and “Tony and Brian [Satterfield] first learned that the money had been recovered from their mother’s death when it was reported in the press. “
The lawsuit says after Satterfield’s death on February 26, Murdaugh admitted he was at fault and introduced his family to his “good friend, Corey Fleming, so Fleming could help the sons file a lawsuit against Murdaugh. for the wrongful death. of their mother, with the help of a banker friend, Chad Westendorf. “
The lawsuit also says Murdaugh assured the family he was “going to take care of the boys,” but alleges they were duped. The legal record indicates that the attorneys working for them in the wrongful death trial were close friends of Murdaugh and one was even the godfather of one of his sons.
The Satterfield heirs say they are looking for their legitimate settlement, as well as any associated damages or costs.
What we know:Murders, money and mystery swirl around the eminent Murdaugh family in South Carolina
$ 10 million life insurance plan, murder of a family, other criminal matters
Murdaugh’s potential legal and criminal problems extend far beyond the death of his housekeeper.
The prominent lawyer is charged with an elaborate pay-for-suicide scheme to free up a $ 10 million life insurance policy for his only living son. Authorities and his lawyer said he hired another man to kill him, believing that suicide would not free his life insurance policy.
Murdaugh was put on the co-accused list as South Carolina’s law enforcement division on Monday announced charges against Curtis Edward Smith, 61, who faces charges of assisted suicide, highly aggravated assault and battery, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Murdaugh “arranged for this guy to shoot him” in an attempt to charge his son, Dick Harpootlian, an attorney for Murdaugh, on Wednesday, on the “Today” show. He said he expects Murdaugh to be charged in the next few days.
Murdaugh was shot in the head on September 4 at the side of a rural road and was rushed to hospital with superficial injuries. The news came days before he checked into rehab and his law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, & Detrick (PMPED), accused him of embezzlement.
State police said on Monday they were investigating the missing money.
Harpootlian told the “Today” show that Murdaugh had used opioids and was trying to get rid of the drugs the day he organized the shoot. Murdaugh was depressed, “realized things were going to be very, very, very bad” after taking money from his law firm, but he figured that if he would kill himself, the insurance payment- life would not go to his son, said Harpootlian.
Murdaugh used the majority of the company’s money to pay for opioids, his lawyer said.
Missing funds:South Carolina Police are investigating allegations that Alex Murdaugh took money from a law firm
Alex Murdaugh injured in separate shootout:South Carolina lawyer shot dead months after wife and son were found dead in hunting grounds
“I didn’t want the police to spend more time on this fake crime”
Murdaugh has since admitted to giving Smith a gun and telling him to kill Murdaugh so that his life insurance policy will be paid off, the South Carolina law enforcement division has said in published affidavits Monday.
Smith followed Murdaugh to a rural country road where he then shot Murdaugh, police said in an affidavit. Smith left and disposed of the gun, while Murdaugh survived the shooting, the affidavit states.
Murdaugh called 911 after being shot in the head and taken to an area hospital, state and local police previously said. Harpootlian said Murdaugh was temporarily blinded in the shooting.
State police said in the affidavit that Murdaugh admitted to the scheme on Monday and that his life insurance policy, worth around $ 10 million, was to go to his surviving son. Smith also admitted on Tuesday that he was present and disposed of the gun, according to the affidavit.
Harpootlian said Murdaugh and his legal team approached state police with his confession. “He didn’t want law enforcement spending more time on this bogus crime instead of focusing on solving the Maggie and Paul (Murdaugh) murders,” Harpootlian told the “Today” show.
Alex Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul, were shot several times and found dead on June 7 at the family’s Colleton County hunting estate. Alex Murdaugh called 911 to report their deaths, which is still under investigation by state police.
Harpootlian told the “Today” show that Murdaugh did not kill his wife and son, and that Harpootlian and another attorney representing Murdaugh were investigating “one or more individuals who we believe may have some guilt or had done “.
Alex Murdaugh and his surviving son, Buster, had offered a reward of $ 100,000 for information leading to an arrest or to arrests and convictions.
Murdaugh’s son linked to other open criminal investigations
Paul Murdaugh also faced charges related to a fatal boating crash in 2019. Mallory Beach, 19, of Hampton County, was killed and several others injured in the crash near Parris Island. Paul Murdaugh has faced three charges related to under the influence boating.
The case remains open and the Beach family have also filed a civil lawsuit and other legal actions against the Murdaugh family. Harpootlian said he represented Paul Murdaugh in the case.
The death of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh also prompted the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to launch a homicide investigation into the unsolved death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith. Paul and Maggie Murdaugh. “
Smith died on a rural road in Hampton County in 2015, in what was ruled a hit and run. However, his mother, Sandy, told the Hampton County Guardian, part of the USA TODAY Network, in 2015 that she believed her son’s death was the result of a criminal act and a possible hate crime. because her son was gay.