In a stunning turn of events, a South Carolina man was charged Tuesday with shooting troubled attorney Alex Murdaugh in the head in an assisted-suicide plot to secure $10 million in insurance money—just three months after Murdaugh’s wife and son were murdered.
The alleged conspiracy was laid out in court documents released after Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was collared for the botched Sept. 4 shooting, which Murdaugh, 53, survived.
“Mr. Murdaugh supplied Mr. Smith with a firearm and directed Mr. Smith to shoot him in the head,” the affidavit said, adding that Murdaugh hoped an insurance payout would go to his sole surviving son.
The affidavit indicates that Murdaugh confessed to the scheme on Monday and named Smith as the shooter. Smith then admitted to being there and getting rid of the gun, the document says.
Smith was also charged with distribution of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced.
A law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the situation told The Daily Beast that Smith and Murdaugh knew each other and that Smith allegedly supplied the lawyer with drugs. Court records show Murdaugh had represented Smith in a personal injury lawsuit a decade ago.
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Smith’s arrest and the charges are the most astounding development yet in a saga with more twists than a Lowcountry backroad that already included a double murder, drug addiction, and allegations of embezzlement.
Murdaugh is the scion of a powerful legal dynasty and was a partner in the firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, Detrick, which was founded by his great-grandfather.
In 2019, the clan—which controlled the local prosecutor’s office for decades—was thrust into the headlines when Murdaugh’s son Paul was charged with a drunken boating accident that killed a young woman.
Then in June, Alex Murdaugh discovered Paul, 22, and his mother Maggie, 52, shot to death near the dog kennels of the family’s sprawling hunting estate.
As the double homicide remained unsolved, Alex Murdaugh’s life appeared to spiral wildly out of control.
Two weeks ago, he called 911 from a country road to report that he had been shot in the head, reportedly while changing a tire. The circumstances were shrouded in confusion—and then things got even murkier.
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Murdaugh suddenly announced that he was entering rehab for drug addiction and resigning from his law firm, saying that he had made “a lot of decisions that I truly regret.”
That intriguing statement was then followed by the firm’s announcement that Murdaugh was under investigation for allegedly misappropriating funds—a matter that state police are also now probing.
Questions about the shooting were still swirling—with Murdaugh’s lawyer forced to deny the superficial head wound was self-inflicted—when Smith’s arrest was announced.
“On September 13, 2021, Mr. Murdaugh provided a statement to SLED admitting to the scheme of having Mr. Smith murder him for the purpose of his son collecting a life insurance policy valued at approximately ten million dollars,” the affidavit states.
In addition to the assisted suicide and insurance fraud counts, Smith was also charged with assault and battery and pointing a firearm. Police said more charges are expected and the affidavit described Murdaugh as a “co-defendant.”
—Blake Montgomery contributed reporting
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