Damning Snapchat video shows Alex Murdaugh wearing different clothes one hour before murders of wife and son
A damning Snapchat video has captured Alex Murdaugh wearing an entirely different set of clothes just one hour before he is accused of murdering his wife and son in a brutal and bloody double homicide.
During his high-profile murder trial on Wednesday, jurors at Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina were shown a Snapchat video taken by Mr Murdaugh’s son Paul at 7.56pm on the night of 7 June 2021.
The video, sent to Paul’s friend Will Loving, shows Mr Murdaugh on the grounds of the family estate looking at a small tree as it limply falls to the ground.
Paul is heard laughing behind the camera as his father makes an inaudible comment.
In the footage, Mr Murdaugh, 54, is seen dressed in trousers, loafers and a blue button-down shirt – clothing that does not match what he is seen wearing in police bodycam footage in the aftermath of the murders.
In the bodycam footage, shown in court last week, the disgraced attorney is dressed in a white short-sleeved t-shirt and shorts.
Questions had already raised about this outfit as multiple law enforcement officials have testified that Mr Murdaugh and his clothing were “clean from head to toe” – despite his claims he had touched the bloody bodies of his wife and son.
The 54-year-old powerful heir to a South Carolina legal dynasty told a 911 dispatcher as well as multiple police officers on the scene – both on arrival and in a police interview a couple of hours later – that he had checked his wife and son’s bodies for pulses.
He also claimed he had “tried to turn over” Paul’s body.
Law enforcement officials testified that, because the crime scene was especially violent and bloody, they would have expected Mr Murdaugh to have blood on him if he had touched the bodies.
Jurors heard that both victims were found lying in a pool of their own blood, while Paul’s brain had been shot out of his skull and landed at his own feet.
Yet, despite the bloodiness of the scene and Mr Murdaugh’s claim he had touched both bodies, witnesses testified that he did not have any visible signs of blood on him or his clothing.
In testimony last week, Detective Laura Rutland of Colleton County Sheriff’s Office described Mr Murdaugh as “clean from head to toe” with no signs of blood on his body, shirt, shorts or shoes.
When asked about Mr Murdaugh’s shorts, shoes, hands and so forth, to each question she replied: “They were clean.”
Det Rutland also testified that she saw no knee prints or footprints in the blood around either victim.
It is not yet clear if investigators ever located or seized the second outfit Mr Murdaugh is seen wearing in the Snapchat video and jurors are yet to hear an explanation from the defence.
Less than one hour on from when that video was taken on Paul’s cellphone at 7.56pm, Paul and his mother Maggie were shot dead at the dog kennels on the family’s 1,700-acre property in Islandton.
Prosecutors allege that Mr Murdaugh killed Paul first at around 8.50pm, followed by Maggie.
The two victims were murdered with two different guns, with Paul shot twice – once in the chest and once in the head – with a shotgun and Maggie shot five times with an AR-15-style rifle.
Cellphone data presented in court on Wednesday narrowed down the murders to a precise eight-second window.
SLED Lt. Britt Dove, who analysed the cellphones of Paul, Maggie and Mr Murdaugh, testified that Paul’s last phone activity was at 8.48.59pm and Maggie’s was at 8.49.27pm.
Eight seconds later at 8.49.35pm, Paul received a text message but it went unread.
Neither Maggie nor Paul used their phones after this time.
Mr Murdaugh called 911 at 10.07pm claiming he had found his wife and son’s bodies.
During Thursday’s dramatic courtroom testimony, prosecutors also cast doubts on Mr Murdaugh’s alibi with a second video shown in court appearing to place him at the crime scene minutes before the murders.
Jurors were shown a cellphone video taken by Paul at the dog kennels where he and Maggie were killed, showing a dog Paul was looking after for his friend Rogan Gibson at the time.
Off-camera, three voices are heard – Paul, Maggie and a second man who prosecutors say is Mr Murdaugh.
The male voice can be heard shouting inaudibly in the background while Paul and Maggie are both talking about dogs.
In dramatic testimony, two friends of Paul with close ties to the family told jurors that they are “100 per cent sure” that the voice belongs to Mr Murdaugh.
Cellphone data shows that the video was recorded for 58 seconds from 8.44.49pm to 8.45.47pm – less than five minutes before the murders.
The disbarred attorney has claimed he was napping at the family home at that time.
Mr Gibson, who had known Paul since they were young and described the Murdaughs as his “second family”, testified that he is “100 per cent sure” Mr Murdaugh is the voice in the footage.
He had been texting Paul at the time of the murders about his dog Cash. His friend stopped replying and he learned the next morning that he was dead.
A second friend Will Loving echoed Mr Gibson’s comments about the video of the dog, saying that he was also “100 per cent” certain that the voices in the footage were of Mr Murdaugh, Paul and Maggie.
As the footage was played in court, Mr Murdaugh appeared to rock his head up and down and cry.
Cellphone data also revealed that calls Mr Murdaugh made to his wife on the night of the murders were mysteriously later “deleted” from his call log.
In court on Tuesday, Lt Dove testified that Mr Murdaugh had called Maggie five times between 9.04pm and 10.03pm on the night of 7 June 2021 after he had allegedly killed her and Paul. None of the calls were answered.
As well as Maggie, Mr Murdaugh also made several calls to other numbers.
Minutes after the final call to Maggie at 10.03pm, Mr Murdaugh called 911 at 10.07pm claiming to have found their bodies.
According to the call log on his cellphone, Mr Murdaugh did not place or receive any calls between 4.35pm on 4 June and 10.25pm on 7 June.
Lt Dove, who processed the three cellphones belonging to Mr Murdaugh, Maggie and Paul, testified that the trove of phone calls Mr Murdaugh made to his wife’s cellphone after he allegedly shot the victims dead was missing from his call log.
The only explanation for the missing data is that the call logs were manually and intentionally deleted by someone between the 7 June 2021 murders and his phone being seized by authorities in September 2021.
“So those calls were deleted, correct?” the prosecutor asked.
Lt Dove confirmed: “It would appear that way.”
Lt Dove testified that he was unable to determine who had deleted the call logs but confirmed that it had been done sometime in the three months between the night of 7 June and Mr Murdaugh’s phone being seized in September.
Prosecutors also scrutinised other activity on Mr Murdaugh’s cellphone on the night of the murders, including an almost one-hour gap in health data where the phone was not moving and recorded zero steps.
The gap – between 8.09pm and 9.02pm – where no steps were recorded shows that no one was moving round with or walking with the phone at that time, Lt Dove said.
The lack of movement was contrasted to the movements on either side of the gap, with 74 steps recorded between 8.05pm from 8.09pm and 283 steps between 9.02pm and 9.06pm. At 9.08pm, six minutes after movement resumed, Mr Murdaugh sent Maggie a text claiming he was going to visit his mother.
Mr Murdaugh’s habits of reading messages was also under the spotlight.
Jurors heard how he received a message about his ailing father from his sister Lynn Murdaugh in a family group chat at 8.31pm but didn’t read it until 1.44pm the next day – despite sending the text to Maggie at 9.08pm.
Typically, cellphone data shows Mr Murdaugh usually read texts between 5 and 40 minutes of receiving them.
During testimony on Tuesday, jurors heard how Maggie’s phone orientation changed from portrait to landscape at 8.54pm and then again at 9.06pm, indicating that it was in someone’s hands.
Health app data also tracked 59 steps on Maggie’s cellphone in the two minutes after 8.53pm – after prosecutors allege Maggie and Paul were already dead.
“It tells me someone was holding this phone and took steps, and it recorded those steps,” said Lt Dove.
Maggie’s phone was locked between 8.49pm on 7 June 2021 and 1.10pm the following day when it was found dumped by the side of Moselle Road around a quarter of a mile from the Murdaugh property.
Under cross-examination, the defence casts doubt on the theory that it could have been Mr Murdaugh who threw Maggie’s phone along the side of Moselle Road, when Lt Dove admitted that cellphone data suggested Maggie and Mr Murdaugh’s phones were not in the same place at the same time.
The step data on the two phones did not match up, including at 9.06pm when only Mr Murdaugh’s was tracking steps.
“It appears the phones were not together being moved by the same person because they are not (both) recording steps,” Lt Dove testified.
Step data on Mr Murdaugh’s phone shows that he was walking around at 9.06pm – the same time that his car started.
At the same minute, Mr Murdaugh called his wife and the final orientation change took place on Maggie’s phone.
Lt Dove testified that this movement could have been as it was being thrown from a vehicle to where it was discovered the next day – with defence attorney Phillip Barber suggesting that the call from Mr Murdaugh may have prompted an unknown assailant to get rid of the phone.
Based on this version of events, the defence asserted that Mr Murdaugh could not have gotten rid of his wife’s phone as he was at the home, walking round and starting his car at the time it took place.
However, under redirect, prosecutors cast doubt on the defence’s timeframe for when the phone was tossed from a car down Moselle Lane.
The SLED agent testified that the screen on Maggie’s phone was off between 9.07pm and 9.31pm.
When the screen on a phone is off, it does not show an orientation change, Lt Dove testified.
“If the screen is off it won’t show an orientation change,” he told the court.
Based on this, if the phone was thrown from a car down the lane between 9.07pm and 9.31pm, there would have been no orientation change.
Prosecutors also raised a potential motive for the murders in court on Wednesday, bringing up the disgraced attorney’s alleged financial crimes for the first time.
On Thursday, Judge Clifton Newman is expected to determine whether or not such financial evidence can be admitted at trial – with prosecutors stressing it is important to establishing motive while the defence wants it thrown out.
Mr Murdaugh, 54, is facing life in prison for the murders of his wife and son.
Prosecutors claim he shot dead his family members in an attempt to distract from a string of other scandals and crimes encircling him. He denies the allegations, insisting that their killer or killers is still at large.
At the time of the murders, Mr Murdaugh was believed to be facing financial ruin from a 20-year opioid addiction and – one day earlier – had been confronted by his law firm PMPED over an alleged multi-million-dollar fraud scheme.
Now, Mr Murdaugh is charged with more than 100 counts from multiple indictments alleging he stole nearly $8.5m from clients at his law firm in fraud schemes going back a decade.
The attorney, who has since been disbarred, allegedly represented the clients in wrongful death settlements before pocketing the money for himself.
Alleged victims include family members of Gloria Satterfield family, the Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper who died in a mysterious trip and fall accident at the family home in 2018.
At the time, her death was regarded as an accidental fall – though the investigation was reopened after Maggie and Paul’s murders.
Three months on from the murders – on 4 September 2021 – Mr Murdaugh allegedly conspired to pay a hitman to shoot him dead so that Buster would inherit a $10m life insurance windfall.
The now-disbarred attorney initially claimed he was ambushed in a drive-by shooting while changing a tyre on his vehicle, but his story quickly unravelled and he confessed to orchestrating the plot.
Mr Murdaugh and his alleged co-conspirator Curtis Smith were arrested and charged over the incident.
As well as Satterfield’s death, questions have also surfaced about other mystery deaths surrounding the Murdaughs.
At the time of his death, Paul was awaiting trial over the fatal 2019 boat crash where 19-year-old Mallory Beach died.
Paul was allegedly drunk driving the boat when it crashed. He was facing up to 25 years in prison.
Meanwhile, the Murdaugh name has also cropped up in several police tips and community rumours about the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, who was found dead in the middle of the road in Hampton County, South Carolina.
The openly gay teenager, 19, had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and his death was officially ruled a hit-and-run. But the victim’s family have long doubted this version of events, with the Murdaugh name cropping up in several police tips and community rumours.
An investigation was reopened into his death after Maggie and Paul’s murders.