South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh arranged for another man to kill him earlier this month so that his son could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy, authorities said Tuesday.
Murdaugh, 53, survived the Sept. 4 shooting, which happened months after the unsolved slayings of his wife and adult son. Police say that Murdaugh told 911 that he was shot in the head while changing a flat tire and that the shooting caused only a “superficial” wound.
On Tuesday, Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was arrested on assisted suicide and fraud counts in connection to the roadside incident, according to the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
Documents released by the agency say that Murdaugh admitted that he asked Smith to kill him so that a beneficiary could collect on his life insurance policy.
Murdaugh, who is part of a prominent South Carolina legal family, has not been charged with any crime.
His attorney, Richard Harpootlian, declined to comment late Tuesday.
The roadside shooting happened almost three months after Murdaugh’s wife and adult son were found shot to death on the family’s hunting property in rural Islandton on June 7.
Days after the Sept. 4 shooting, Murdaugh said in a statement that he resigned from his job at a law firm to enter rehab. He said he “made a lot of decisions that I truly regret” and that the murders of his wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult period.
The law firm said that Murdaugh resigned only after the partners discovered he had allegedly misappropriated funds. On Monday, South Carolina law officials announced that it was looking into accusations that Murdaugh “misappropriated” money from the firm.
Murdaugh’s law license was indefinitely suspended.
Smith has been charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, SLED said.
It said that Smith, of Walterboro, was also arrested on charges of distribution of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana.
Smith was being held in jail Tuesday night, officials said. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.
The agency said additional charges were expected in the case.
Murdaugh allegedly gave Smith a gun and directed Smith to kill him, according to the documents released by investigators Tuesday.
Murdaugh allegedly admitted to the law enforcement agency that the plan was for Smith to kill him, so that Murdaugh’s surviving son could collect a life insurance policy worth approximately $10 million, according to the documents.
Earlier this summer, Murdaugh’s wife, Margaret, and adult son, Paul, were found dead near dog kennels on the family’s hunting property in Colleton County, west of Charleston. Their deaths have been classified as by state investigators as a double homicide.
Alex Murdaugh, a personal injury attorney, called 911 at 10:07 p.m. June 7 and told a dispatcher that his wife and son were on the ground and not breathing, according to records released by authorities.
He said he had just returned and asked the dispatcher to “please hurry.”
Murdaugh’s father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather all held the top prosecutor’s position in South Carolina’s 14th Circuit, which covers a coastal region of the state known as the Lowcountry, totaling more than 80 years.