Takeaways from Netflix’s true crime docuseries Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal
The true crime docuseries from Netflix Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal reveals a string of unsolved deaths linked to a South Carolina family. The documentary begins with the death of Mallory Beach, a young woman, in a boating accident with a group of friends. The boat, owned by the Murdaugh family, was driven by Paul Murdaugh while heavily intoxicated. When the boat struck a bridge pier, Mallory and her boyfriend, Anthony, were thrown overboard. Anthony made his way to shore and the others on the boat sustained injuries, but Mallory was nowhere to be found.
Unfortunately, this was not the first death linked to the Murdaugh family, nor was it the first attempt at a cover-up. This documentary explores how the Murdaughs’ death streak turned cold in their respective investigations due to the influence and power of the Murdaugh family. With ties to politics, the judicial system, and the police system, every death was swept under the rug and left unsolved. Until the recent deaths of Margaret and Paul Murdaugh in 2021, which eventually led to the arrest of Alex Murdaugh, whose trial ended on March 2, Alex found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
Mysterious deaths surrounding the Murdaugh family
The first known case involving the Murdaugh family was the 2015 death of a young man named Stephen Smith, who was found dead in the middle of a road three miles from his car. However, this was not the result of a car accident as stated in the SLED report, but the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. Stephen’s car was found and appeared to be out of gas on the freeway. Detectives found that Stephen called Buster Murdaugh for a ride and there were rumors that the two were not only friends but might have been romantically involved. So what happened after Buster picked him up? Nobody knows.
In 2018, Gloria Satterfield, the Murdaugh’s housekeeper, reportedly tripped over the family’s dogs and fell down a flight of stairs, hitting her head and dying. The inquest revealed several inconsistencies regarding the manner of her death, the injuries sustained and the circumstances of her death. Being close to the family and aware of the troubles within the Murdaugh household, Gloria had discovered a stash of Alex Murdaugh’s drugs and reported it to Paul. After her death, Alex Murdaugh filed a wrongful death petition to be paid to Gloria’s family for half a million dollars, but mysteriously the money never reached any of her family members.
Then came the shocking deaths of Margaret and Paul Murdaugh, Alex’s wife and son. In 2021, the two were shot dead on Murdaugh’s property, and Alex himself called an ambulance. Despite creating an alibi and later arranging an attempted shot on himself to prove his own innocence and frame someone else, he was arrested as the prime suspect. The Murdaughs owned the same guns that killed Margaret and Paul, and these mysteriously disappeared from the collection.
How wealth and power created the cover-ups
The documentary delves into how the family attempted to cover up these crimes and the theories that detectives have come up with based on each case’s strange connections, particularly their connection to the Murdaugh family. Evidence was withheld, and the family used their wealth and power within the community to manipulate what was happening. This was demonstrated in the Mallory Beach case, with each of the remaining survivors of the boat crash recounting what happened.
Immediately after everyone got to shore, Paul called his grandfather to tell him what had happened, claiming another friend was driving the boat. The family then went to work to “get a handle on” the situation and cover it up. The Murdaughs attempted to tell a different story about what had happened, even taking the family lawyer to the hospital to try to manipulate those involved in the accident. They even towed the boat away before it could be examined.
The Murdaugh family’s long-established power in the justice system seemed to place them above the law. Those involved with the family during these cases noted the privileges the family received and the suspicious activities, but were afraid to speak out or interfere. Rumors of their ability to produce evidence and even make people disappear became true as they were able to silence, bribe and manipulate individuals within the justice system and law enforcement agencies. But with the murders of Margaret and Paul Murdaugh, everything around them collapsed as outside investigators took over the case and were able to remain unaffected by the family’s power and wealth.