South Carolina police have arrested a man who allegedly conspired with Alex Murdaugh, a high-profile lawyer whose wife and son were murdered in a double shooting in June, to shoot and kill him in a conspiracy to get millions in life insurance payments to his son .
“Agents from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division on Tuesday arrested a Colleton County man in connection with the shooting incident that involved Alex Murdaugh on Sept. 4 in Hampton County,” South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokesman Tommy Crosby said in a statement.
Curtis Edward Smith, 61, is facing charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud in the case, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Investigators said they have a plausible reason to believe Murdaugh himself set up the plot – but survived the shooting attempt with a superficial wound to the head, according to an SLED statement.
“Richard Alex Murdaugh conspired with Curtis Edward Smith in the area of Old Salkehatchie Road, with the intent that Mr. Smith assist Mr. Murdaugh in committing suicide,” the statement said. “Mr. Murdaugh provided Mr. Smith with a firearm and ordered Mr. Smith to shoot him in the head with the intent of causing Mr. Murdaugh’s death and allowing payment of a declared death benefit.”
If the plot was successful, Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, could have collected his father’s $ 10 million life insurance policy, police said.
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Smith allegedly shot Murdaugh in the head on Old Salkehatchie Road on the afternoon of Sept. 4 and then drove away to dispose of the gun, which the lawyer had allegedly delivered.
Police also accused Smith of allegedly selling methamphetamine and possession of marijuana.
Additional charges are expected in connection with the Murdaugh case after state investigators joined the case at the request of the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office, Crosby said.
Two days after the shooting, Murdaugh announced that he was retiring from his law firm, which his family founded more than a century ago, and was undergoing rehab. Hours later, the firm, PMPED, claimed that the outgoing lawyer had misused funds. SLED is also investigating that case.
Later that week, the state Supreme Court suspended Murdaugh’s license.
SOUTH CAROLINA LAWYER ALEX MURDAUGH SHOT MONTHS AFTER Wife and son killed in unsolved case
Murdaughs, who are prominent in the region through their law practice and decades of control over the local prosecution, have attracted national attention following the unresolved shooting deaths of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, 22 and 52, on June 7th. They were shot down on a family property and discovered by Alex Murdaugh, who said he fell over the crime scene on his way home from visiting his terminally ill father – who died days later.
At the time of their killing, Paul was awaiting trial in connection with a drunken boat accident that killed a 19-year-old passenger named Mallory Beach in February 2019.
Investigators investigating the double murder said they also uncovered information that led them to reopen the probe to the 19-year-old Stephen Smith’s hit-and-run death.
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This case has raised questions about the family’s ties to local law enforcement, and it has launched both a state investigation and civil litigation as to whether there had been undue influence.