Alex Murdaugh’s final text to wife Maggie after murder revealed
Alex Murdaugh’s final texts and calls to his wife Maggie after she and their son were shot dead have been revealed at his murder trial.
SLED Agent Brett Dove, an expert witness on cellphone forensics, testified about what was found on Mr Murdaugh’s phone on Tuesday at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina.
Mr Dove said Mr Murdaugh had called his wife five times and sent multiple text messages in the hour after she and their son Paul, 22, were killed at the family’s sprawling estate in Islandton on 7 June 2021.
“Call me babe,” the final message to 54-year-old Maggie read - about 20 minutes before he called 911 to report finding the bodies.
Prosecutors have argued that Mr Murdaugh sent the messages and made the unanswered calls in an effort to cover his alleged involvement in the murders.
During his testimony, Mr Dove also used data from Maggie’s phone to reconstruct her final movements before she was killed.
According to Mr Dove, Ms Murdaugh’s phone showed she made a call to a contact named “Barbara” that evening at 7.50pm that lasted for two minutes and 46 seconds. It was the last phone call she made. Alex Murdaugh called her phone at 9.04pm and then twice at 9.06pm, but those calls were not answered.
Mr Murdaugh attempted to reach Ms Murdaugh by phone twice more, at 9.45pm and at 10.03pm, before calling 911 at 10.06pm.
There was also ample information available from Ms Murdaugh’s text activity.
At 8.31pm, Ms Murdaugh recieved a text message in a group chat with other members of her family from John Marvin announcing that he was planning to visit his father the next day and asking if anyone else wanted to join him.
Ms Murdaugh’s phone read the message at 8.31pm when it came in, and it read another message at 8.49pm in the group chat and then “locked.” Subsequent text messages were not read and subsequent calls, including those five calls from Mr Murdaugh, were not answered.
Recap: Last time Maggie Murdaugh actively used her phone was by showing "read" on a group text thread at 8:49pm. Calls and texts after that time (starting at 9:04 pm) went unanswered/unread. Prosecution theory Maggie was killed between 8:49pm and 9:04pm. #AlexMurdaugh
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) January 31, 2023
At 8.54pm, the phone’s orientation was changed to and then away from landscape mode. Then, as the orientation was changed for the second time, its camera activated for one second. The activiation of the camera may have suggested that someone had picked up the phone, but Mr Dove said that person likely was not Ms Murdaugh herself.
“It appears the phone is being moved and the camera is activating in the background to see if it would recognise somebody’s face that would unlock it,” Mr Dove testified.
Ms Murdaugh’s phone was not unlocked again until the following afternoon when it was discovered following the killing. The prosecution believes that Ms Murdaugh was killed between 8.49pm and 9.04pm.
Mr Dove was due to retake the witness stand when next the court convenes on Wednesday morning.