Attorney Hired Man to Kill Him Months After Wife, Son Murdered: Police

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
September 15, 2021 Updated: September 15, 2021

A high-profile attorney in South Carolina hired another man to shoot him for a life insurance payout months after his wife and son were killed, authorities said in court documents.

Curtis Edward Smith, 61, conspired with Alex Murdaugh, 53, in the plan, South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Division said.

On Sept. 4, “Mr. Murdaugh provided Mr. Smith with a firearm and directed Mr. Smith to shoot him in the head for the purpose of causing Mr. Murdaugh’s death and allowing for the payment of a stated death benefit to a beneficiary of the insured, Mr. Murdaugh,” an affidavit in the case against Smith stated.

Smith followed Murdaugh to Old Salkehatchie Road in Varnville and shot Murdaugh as he stood in the road, authorities said.

After the shooting, Smith drove somewhere and disposed of the firearm.

But Murdaugh survived the shooting and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Murdaugh admitted this week to investigators that he was involved in the scheme, which was aimed at delivering his son $10 million from a life insurance policy, according to court documents. Smith admitted to being present during the shooting and disposing of the firearm afterwards.

Smith was taken into custody and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, distribution of methamphetamine, and possession of marijuana.

His case will be prosecuted by the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office.

Murdaugh has not yet been charged, according to court records. The Law Enforcement Division did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“On September 4, it became clear Alex believed that ending his life was his only option. Today, he knows that’s not true. For the last 20 years, there have been many people feeding his addiction to opioids. During that time, these individuals took advantage of his addiction and his ability to pay substantial funds for illegal drugs. One of those individuals took advantage of his mental illness and agreed to take Alex’s life, by shooting him in the head,” lawyers for Murdaugh told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

“Fortunately, Alex was not killed by the gunshot wound. Alex is fully cooperating with SLED in their investigations into his shooting, opioid use and the search to find the person or people responsible for the murder of his wife and son. Alex is not without fault but he is just one of many whose life has been devastated by opioid addiction,” they added.

It wasn’t clear if Smith had retained an attorney.

Curtis Edward Smith is seen in a booking photograph on Sept. 14, 2021. (Colleton County Detention Center via AP)

Court records show that Murdaugh represented Smith in several legal cases.

Murdaugh’s wife and one of his sons were found shot dead near their home in June. Their murders have not been solved as of yet. The son had been awaiting trial on a charge related to a boating accident that left a teenage girl dead in 2019. Murdaugh told investigators he discovered the bodies after returning home.

After he was struck on Sept. 4, Murdaugh said he was resigning from the legal firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick (PMPED) and entering rehab.

“The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret,” he said in a statement distributed by his lawyers.

Soon after, PMPED alleged Murdaugh had “misappropriated funds.” That led to the South Carolina Supreme Court suspending the man’s law license.

The Law Enforcement Division opened an investigation into the allegations on Sept. 13.

It’s the fifth probe into the Murdaugh family; no arrests have been made in any of them. Solicitor Duffie Stone turned the probe into the murder of Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and her son Paul Murdaugh, 22, to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office last month.

“I continue to urge the public to be patient and let this investigation take its course. Investigative decisions we make throughout this case and any potentially related case must ultimately withstand the scrutiny of the criminal justice process,” Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said in a statement.

Three members of the Murdaugh family remain at PMPED, which was started by Murdaugh’s great-grandfather.

One of them, Randolph Murdaugh IV, told Bluffton Today that he was stunned by what had unfolded.

“I was shocked, just as the rest of my PMPED family, to learn of my brother, Alex’s, drug addiction and stealing of money. I love my law firm family and also love Alex as my brother,” he said. “While I will support him in his recovery, I do not support, condone, or excuse his conduct in stealing by manipulating his most trusted relationships. I will continue to pursue my client’s interests with the highest degree of honesty and integrity, as I always have.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.