Murder Down South

A new Netflix series exposes the details of the Southern scandal tied to the Murdaugh family


Photo courtesy

A photo of Alex Murdaugh taken during his trial.

Andy Ratterree, Viking Voices Co-Editor

Previously, the Murdaugh family has been well known throughout South Carolina for their influence and legal advice, but now they are known for a much darker reason.

On Jan. 23, 2023, Alex Murdaugh was brought to court for the murder of his wife and son, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh. They had been murdered on June 7, 2021, at Moselle, which is the 1,770-acre farm in Islandton, SC, that the family owned.

Inspired by these strange events, Netflix, in February 2023, released a series called “Murdaugh Mysteries: A Southern Scandal,” that features the obscurities of the Murdaugh family. The show investigates and exposes the deaths of five people that were in some ways connected to the Murdaugh family.

Katie Reynolds (12) finds documentaries to be very informative to finding the truth within real-life stories.

“I thought it was very informative for those who did not know much about the case. I think they did a really good job on showing re-creations of the cases,” Reynolds said.

The first episode discusses the sudden death of Mallory Beach in a boat wreck in February 2019. Beach and her friends had been at an oyster roast, and allegedly, Paul Murdaugh insisted they take his father’s boat to avoid police patrol units. After the roast was over, Paul, who was reported to be excessively drunk, wouldn’t let his friends take Ubers home and lashed back violently when they volunteered to drive the boat. Paul crashed into Archers Creek bridge, and Beach was thrown from the back of the boat and drowned in the chilly Beaufort River. Paul Murdaugh went to court in June of 2021, three days before he was murdered, in which he pleaded guilty to the jury. The case went cold after Paul’s death and will be reopened in the fall of 2023.

The second episode starts with the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh at their farm in the low country of South Carolina. Alex Murdaugh, the only suspect in the murder, stated that he had a solid alibi because he was visiting his mother and father. At first, investigators suspected someone had targeted the family because of Mallory Beach’s death, but later evidence revealed that the murder weapons used were owned by Alex Murdaugh and stored on the property.

In real time and as witnessed live by viewers of the trial, CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman was surprised when the jury in the case against Murdaugh for these two murders came to a decision so quickly.

“The judge in the case dismissed the defense’s motion for a mistrial, saying the “evidence of guilt is overwhelming,” Klieman said.

Netflix then switches gears and discusses the deaths of Stephen Smith and Gloria Satterfield, two murders that are possibly tied to the Murdaugh family and are currently being investigated. Stephen Smith was a young man that was found dead in early July 2015. His body was found in the middle of a road a few miles from the Murdaugh property. There was no sign of a struggle from Smith and after a lack of evidence, the case went cold. However, Buster Murdaugh’s name is mentioned in reports of the incident but his involvement in the murder is just speculation.

The other “suspicious” death that Netflix investigates within the documentary was of the Murdaugh’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. She was allegedly tripped by the Murdaugh’s dogs and fell down the front steps of the Murdaugh’s house, sustaining a fatal head injury. Investigators suspect that Satterfield might have been pushed down the stairs, but no real evidence suggests this at this time.

The final episode wraps up all the loose ends of the Murdaugh murder case and provides extra evidence to harm Alex Murdaugh’s acquittal. It provides evidence that Murdaugh swindled millions from the law firm he worked for over the years. During the episode, it also plays a video taken by Paul Murdaugh minutes before his death with Alex Murdaugh’s voice in the background which contradicts Alex’s alibi.

A number of Spartanburg High students have watched the Netflix series and followed the status of the Murdaugh trial as it took place. Mac Russell (12) was intrigued by the unusual details of the trial.

“I thought the Murdaugh documentary and trial were kind of crazy.  I think the whole thing is a roller coaster ride,” Russell said.