(NewsNation) — Alex Murdaugh is being charged with the murder of his wife and son, but the murders are just one element of a sprawling network of reported lies, fraud and mysterious deaths surrounding the family.
So, who are the major figures in the center of the case that shocked a small South Carolina town?
Formerly a prominent lawyer, Alex Murdaugh was part of the Murdaugh family which held a position of prominence and power in Hampton County, South Carolina after his ancestor established a law practice there in 1910. Alex Murdaugh served as a personal injury lawyer and a volunteer prosecutor until he was disbarred in 2022.
The 54-year-old and his family lived on a large estate and have been accused of receiving special treatment for incidents involving Alex Murdaugh and his sons.
The family has been connected to several mysterious deaths, and Alex Murdaugh has been charged with financial crimes including embezzlement, fraud, and tax evasion.
Alex Murdaugh faces 19 indictments and 99 financial charges related to crimes including money laundering, insurance fraud, forgeries and tax evasion. Trials for the financial crimes have been postponed due to the murder trial.
Alex Murdaugh is also accused of hiring a man to shoot him in the head as part of an insurance fraud scheme.
Alex Murdaugh is set to stand trial for the murder of his wife and son.
Maggie Murdaugh met her husband at the University of South Carolina where she was part of a sorority. Friend and family remembered her as a happy and upbeat woman and the loving mother of her two sons, Buster and Paul.
Some sources said the Murdaughs were having a rough patch in their marriage prior to Maggie Murdaugh’s death and she was staying at the family’s beach house. Alex Murdaugh allegedly sent her a text message asking to meet at the family’s hunting lodge before her death.
On June 7, 2021 Maggie Murdaugh and her younger son Paul were found dead at that property. Recently released forensic reports say she was found face-down, having been shot five times. Two of the shots were reportedly fired while she was standing and the fatal shot was to her head.
Richard “Buster” Murdaugh is the oldest and only surviving son of Alex and Maggie Murdaugh.
Buster was accused of buying alcohol for his younger brother, Paul, before a fatal boating accident involving Mallory Beach.
Buster Murdaugh’s name has also been raised in connection with the mysterious death of Stephen Smith, a former high school classmate.
Buster Murdaugh has remained out of the public spotlight in the leadup to the trial.
Paul Murdaugh was 22-years-old when he was killed. The youngest Murdaugh son, he had previously been involved in a fatal boat crash that included underage drinking. Charges against him were officially dropped.
An ex-girlfriend said the Murdaughs knew Paul Murdaugh abused alcohol and even bought it for him while he was underage.
Paul Murdaugh had previous citations for underage drinking as well as a previous boating citation.
Forensic reports show Paul Murdaugh was shot twice with a shotgun, once through the chest and once through the head. He was found lying face-down in the basement of the family’s property along with his mother.
Stephen Smith was a nursing student found dead on the road in South Carolina in 2015. The incident was declared a hit and run though Stephen Smith’s family and some accident investigators believe it was a homicide.
Rumors circulated that Smith, who was gay, was having a secret relationship with Buster Murdaugh. Members of the Murdaugh family were allegedly among those first on scene after Stephen Smith’s body was found.
Stephen Smith’s death is still considered an open case and is under investigation, with renewed attention since Alex Murdaugh’s arrest.
Gloria Satterfield was a housekeeper and nanny for the Murdaugh family and had worked for them for more than 20 years, helping to raise the Murdaugh sons.
Satterfield died after an accident at the Murdaugh home in 2018. The family said she was at the top of the stairs when a dog jumped on her, causing her to trip and fall.
The case into her death was reopened after it was linked to an insurance fraud scheme run by Alex Murdaugh.
Her two sons settled with Alex Murdaugh after they failed to receive any money from a wrongful death lawsuit they filed. That case also led to a confession of judgement from Alex Murdaugh, which resulted in him being disbarred.
Mallory Beach was a teenager who died after an accident on the Murdaugh family’s boat. Underage drinking and high speeds were implicated when the boat crashed into a bridge and Beach went missing.
The 19-year-old’s body was found a week later.
Beach’s family sued the Murdaughs but the case was settled.
Curtis Smith (no known relation to Stephen Smith) was arrested in connection with an insurance fraud scheme involving Alex Murdaugh.
A few months after the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, Alex Murdaugh was shot in the head while changing a tire on his vehicle.
The wound was superficial and Curtis Smith was arrested. Investigators said Alex Murdaugh provided Curtis Smith with the gun used and hired Curtis Smith to kill him, in an attempt to ensure his son would receive insurance benefits after his death.
Jury selection in the Murdaugh trial begins on Jan. 23.