The Murdaugh murder mystery took yet another turn on Sept. 14 as a 61-year-old man is accused of trying to help the patriarch of the powerful South Carolina family that had two family members murdered commit suicide for a $10 million life insurance policy.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced agents charged Curtis Edward Smith, 61, with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud ad conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
He was charged in connection to the shooting of Alex Murdaugh on Sept. 4.
State agents say additional charges in the case are expected and will be announced “at the appropriate time.”
Murdaugh was shot months after his son, Paul Murdaugh, and his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, were murdered on the family’s South Carolina property. There have been no arrests in connection to the murders.
The investigation into the murder has led police on several twists, including reopening a case where a man was found dead in 2015 and police initially said it was a hit-and-run death. Earlier this week, state agents announced they were opening a criminal investigation into allegations of misappropriation of funds from a law firm by Alex Murdaugh.
According to arrest warrants, Alex Murdaugh schemed with Smith to have Smith shot him in the head to collect life insurance benefits. The policy was worth $10 million according to investigators.
On Sept. 4, Smith followed Alex Murdaugh to a road where he shot Alex Murdaugh. Smith admitted to agents his role in the scheme and disposing of the gun afterward, according to the warrants.
Alex Murdaugh was taken to the hospital after the shooting with what investigators called a superficial wound.
Days after the shooting, agents detained Smith and found he had marijuana and had enough methamphetamine to be charged with distribution of the drug.
Investigators have not said how Murdaugh knew Smith.
The Murdaugh family is a well-known dynasty in the “Low Country” of South Carolina. Several members have served as the area’s version of a District Attorney. But, the family was thrust into the spotlight years ago during a 2019 boat crash. A 19-year-old coed was killed and Paul Murdaugh was accused of driving the boat while drunk.
Charges were not filed in the boat crash’s immediate aftermath leading some to claim preferential treatment for the powerful family. In April 2019, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office announced charges against Paul Murdaugh in connection to the boat crash.
As charges were working through the system, in June 2021, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were found murdered on the family’s Colleton County property. Few details have been released about the double-murder investigation, leaving some to wonder if the killings are connected to a nautical wreck.
The charges against Paul Murdaugh were active when he was found murdered.