The loss of life three years in the past of a longtime housekeeper and nanny for the Murdaugh household would be the topic of a legal investigation, South Carolina authorities introduced Wednesday, yielding one more surprising flip in a case that has entangled a distinguished authorized household.
A spokesman for the South Carolina Regulation Enforcement Division mentioned the loss of life of Gloria Satterfield has prompted a assessment following a request from the Hampton County coroner and primarily based on “info gathered” throughout a separate investigation involving Alex Murdaugh, the authorized scion whose spouse and son had been fatally shot in June.
Satterfield’s loss of life “was not reported to the coroner on the time, nor was an post-mortem carried out,” Hampton County Coroner Angela Topper wrote in a letter to state investigators in her request. “On the loss of life certificates, the style of loss of life was dominated ‘pure,’ which is inconsistent with accidents sustained in a visit and fall accident.”
Her household mentioned in a press release that it was a “unhappy day” for them following the announcement of the investigation.
“The information of the opening of a legal investigation causes extra questions at a time when the household simply needed solutions concerning the claims that had been asserted in reference to the loss of life of their mom and any settlements reached,” the assertion mentioned. “At the moment this nightmare escalated for the household with the information of the opening of the legal investigation into the loss of life of Gloria Satterfield.”
Earlier Wednesday, an lawyer for Satterfield’s household filed a lawsuit in Hampton County court docket accusing Murdaugh and others of breach of fiduciary obligation in failing to pay them as a part of a wrongful loss of life settlement.
Satterfield was 57 when she died in February 2018 from accidents sustained from a fall within the Murdaugh house, the place she was employed for greater than twenty years. Based on the go well with, “the precise particulars of the autumn stay unclear” to her two sons, Michael “Tony” Satterfield and Brian Harriott, who had been purported to get $475,000 in direct fee to “compensate them for the grief, sorrow and mourning related to the lack of their mom.”
The house was insured by way of Lloyd’s of London, in line with the go well with. Murdaugh initially pledged that he was “going to deal with the boys,” the go well with added, by suing himself to gather on private legal responsibility insurance coverage by way of Lloyd’s. However almost two years after a partial settlement was reached with the insurance coverage agency, a “stipulation of dismissal” was filed in October 2020, purportedly ending the property’s claims towards Murdaugh. Murdaugh additionally signed the stipulation, in line with an exhibit connected to the go well with.
“Neither Tony, nor Brian, had been consulted in regards to the dismissal, nor had been they advised of what, if any, extra actions had been taken on their behalves within the years following the partial settlement,” the go well with mentioned. “Tony and Brian first discovered that cash had been recovered from the loss of life of their mom when it was reported within the press.”
Ronald Richter Jr., an lawyer for Satterfield’s household, advised NBC Information they’ve acquired “not a dime.”
“We’re knowledgeable that the settlement was $505,000, however the internet proceeds of that settlement, we’re advised that they’ve acquired none of that cash, though the case supposedly resolved in 2018,” he mentioned.
One other lawyer, Eric Bland, mentioned Satterfield’s sons did not beforehand wish to make waves.
“It is onerous. Considered one of our shoppers is particular wants, the opposite lives in a small Southern city … they usually did not ask questions,” he mentioned. They beforehand “tried to name their legal professionals and did not get a response, however they did not take it past that. They had been scared.”
A Murdaugh household spokesperson didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark Wednesday.
The newest investigation surrounding the household comes after state investigators and legal professionals for Murdaugh revealed he used a gunman to aim to stage his personal loss of life in order that a $10 million life insurance coverage coverage may be paid to a different son.
The weird plot unraveled, nevertheless, when the legal professionals mentioned the person, Curtis Edward Smith, solely grazed Murdaugh’s head with a bullet throughout the Sept. 4 roadside taking pictures, and days later, Murdaugh’s regulation agency accused him of misappropriating cash.
Jim Griffin, one in all Murdaugh’s legal professionals, mentioned that his shopper didn’t inform state investigators that he paid Smith and that Smith “willingly shot him with out pay,” The Submit and Courier reported. He additionally mentioned Smith was the “main” drug seller for Murdaugh, who had been coping with an dependancy to painkillers.
Smith, 61, was charged with assisted suicide, insurance coverage fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance coverage fraud and different counts, the South Carolina Regulation Enforcement Division mentioned in a press release. Murdaugh, who was listed as a co-defendant, was not instantly arrested; one other of his legal professionals, Richard Harpootlian, mentioned on NBC’s “TODAY” present that he expects prices to be filed.
Courtroom paperwork present that Murdaugh had first represented Smith in a private damage lawsuit in 2012 after which for a dashing ticket in 2013. Different particulars surrounding their connection, and whether or not the taking pictures may additionally be tied to the unsolved slayings of Murdaugh’s spouse, Margaret, and son Paul stay unclear.
Harpootlian mentioned Murdaugh was “distraught” over their deaths and overcome by feelings exacerbated by a 20-year opioid dependancy, however insisted he didn’t play a job of their killings.
Harpootlian mentioned they’re doing their very own investigation, and “we expect we’ll know this week whether or not the one suspect we’re bears additional scrutiny, and we’ll make that out there to regulation enforcement.”
Smith was additionally charged with distribution of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana. Courtroom information point out he has visitors violations in Colleton County going again to 1995, and it was not instantly clear if he at present has an lawyer.
Given what investigators and his attorneys have already mentioned, Murdaugh himself might face quite a few prices, together with conspiracy to commit insurance coverage fraud, in addition to prices associated to the theft of cash from his regulation agency and the buying of unlawful medicine, in line with Kenneth Gaines, a regulation professor on the College of South Carolina.
“After they pull again the covers on this, there’s going to be a complete lot of issues flying out,” he mentioned.
Harpootlian mentioned on “TODAY” that Murdaugh stays cooperative with state investigators as he seeks therapy for his drug dependancy at a rehab heart. He mentioned Murdaugh additionally offered investigators along with his financial institution accounts and “advised them the best way to learn how a lot he spent, the place it went, the place the financial institution accounts had been, what went in, what got here out,” in addition to “checks written to drug sellers.
The household’s highly effective authorized connections had been within the highlight after Paul Murdaugh was indicted in a ship crash in 2019 that left Mallory Seaside, 19, lifeless. A police report mentioned individuals on the boat had been “grossly intoxicated.”
Paul Murdaugh, who had pleaded not responsible to 3 felony counts of cruising beneath the affect, was awaiting trial on the time of his loss of life.
As well as, the South Carolina Regulation Enforcement Division introduced in June that it was opening an investigation into the loss of life of one other 19-year-old, Stephen Smith, who was discovered on a rural street in Hampton County in 2015. Investigators mentioned the case was opened after info was discovered whereas investigating the double murder of Margaret and Paul Murdaugh.