Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal is the most recent true crime documentary series to grip audiences on Netflix, recounting the sequence of suspicious events—including a number of suspicious deaths—that unfolded over six years surrounding the Murdaughs, a wealthy and powerful family of prosecutors in South Carolina, culminating in the murder of Maggie Murdaugh and her son, Paul Murdaugh.
Maggie’s husband Alex Murdaugh is currently standing trial for their deaths, but the documentary hints that the family’s crimes may run much deeper.
Comprised of firsthand accounts from multiple witnesses, Murdaugh Murders paints a very disturbing picture, although several accusations made against the Murdaughs in the documentary lack sufficient proof, and many of the questions regarding what happened to several people connected to the family remain unanswered.
Here is everything we know about the incidents explored in Murdaugh Murders, in chronological order.
July 8, 2015
The body of Stephen Smith, a friend and classmate of Buster Murdaugh, was found on a road in Hampton County, South Carolina. His own car was parked several miles away. The cause of death was determined to be head trauma, although a trooper interviewed in the documentary noted that his injuries were not consistent with a hit and run.
Smith’s death is unsolved to this day, although a private investigator hired by his mother uncovered rumors that he and Buster were involved (Smith was openly gay). Several people interviewed alleged that Buster was responsible, although once the Murdaugh name got dragged into the case, the investigation “faded away.”
February 2, 2018
Gloria Satterfield, the Murdaughs’ housekeeper, was gravely injured while working at the family’s property: she appeared to have fallen down the stairs, possibly after tripping on the dogs, and “hit her head violently.” She was taken to the hospital, where her siblings described her as largely non-responsive until her death on February 26. However, her death was never actually reported to the coroner, and no autopsy was ever performed.
In the docu-series, Paul’s ex-girlfriend Morgan Doughty and her parents allege that Gloria “knew too much” about the family’s secrets, and claim that Gloria had found drugs in Alex’s bedroom prior to her death.
Following Gloria’s death, Alex Murdaugh collected more than $4 million in commercial insurance for the incident which occurred on his property. Gloria’s family accused him of stealing money that he had promised would go towards compensating them: he has since agreed to a $4.3 million settlement with the Satterfields.
February 23, 2019
Paul, who according to interviews in Murdaugh Murders had a pattern of behaving angrily and abusively while drunk, drove himself and five friends home from a night of partying on his boat: they were his then-girlfriend Morgan Doughty, Connor Cook, Miley Altman, Anthony Cook, and Anthony’s girlfriend, 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
When the boat hit a piling—as a result of Paul’s erratic behavior, the documentary claims—Mallory fell into the water, and did not resurface. Authorities found her body seven days later, several miles up river. Her cause of death was determined to be drowning as a result of blunt force head trauma.
Paul was charged with three felonies: boating under the influence causing death, and two counts of causing harm to others. He pled not guilty, and was awaiting trial at the time of his own death.
June 7, 2021
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were both killed on their property: Maggie was shot in the chest and back, while Paul was shot in the chest, neck, and head.
According to Alex Murdaugh’s account of events, he arrived home from checking on his ill parents and found Maggie and Paul’s bodies near the dog kennels, “a short drive” from the main house, and called 911.
January 25, 2023
Murdaugh stood trial for their deaths, and his oldest son Buster spoke in his defense. The trial went on for six week, with various expert witnesses, and even Alex Murdaugh himself taking the stand to testify.
March 2, 2023
The jury deliberated for around 2 hours and quickly came back with a verdict. Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of both murders and guilty of two counts of possessing a weapon during a violent crime.
March 3, 2023
After the jury’s verdict, Judge Clifton Newman sentenced Murdaugh to two consecutive life sentences. Murdaugh continued to protest his innocence despite the sentence. Before giving his ruling, PEOPLE reports Judge Newman said, “It might not have been you. It might have been the monster you become. When you take 20, 40, 50, 60 opioid pills, maybe you become another person.”
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.
Milan Polk is an Editorial Assistant for Men’s Health who specializes in entertainment and lifestyle reporting, and has worked for New York Magazine’s Vulture and Chicago Tribune.