Who Killed Maggie and Paul Murdaugh? The Theories Explained

Margaret "Maggie" Murdaugh, 52, and her 22-year-old son Paul Murdaugh were killed on June 7, 2021. Their deaths are examined in Netflix's new true crime series Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal.

Disgraced lawyer Alex Murdaugh, 54, is currently on trial in Walterboro, South Carolina, for the killing of his wife and youngest son.

According to police, Murdaugh reported finding their bodies at the family's 1,700-acre hunting estate in Colleton County, South Carolina.

In July 2022, he was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He has pleaded not guilty.

Murdaugh has remained in jail at the Richland County Detention Center with a bond set at $7 million—one of the highest in South Carolina history—according to a People report.

Who Killed Maggie and Paul Murdaugh? The Theories Explained

Alex Murdaugh, son Paul and wife Maggie
Paul Murdaugh and his mother Maggie Murdaugh in an image from Netflix documentary "Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal." Inset, the booking photo of Alex Murdaugh, who is accused of killing them. The disgraced lawyer's wife Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul, were shot dead at their home in South Carolina's Colleton County on June 7, 2021. Netflix/Hampton County Detention Center

On Friday, February 17, at Murdaugh's trial, jurors heard Dr Kenneth Kinsey, an Orangeburg County sheriff's deputy and crime scene expert, provide testimony detailing the timeline of Maggie and Paul's deaths.

Per a report from The Independent, Dr Kinsey stated that Paul was shot twice with a shotgun in the feeding room of the dog kennels at the family's estate.

It was explained that Paul was hit in the chest and arm by the first shot, but the wound did not prove fatal. He was then shot a second time when approaching the entrance of the kennels. The shot was said to have passed into his brain and instantly killed him.

Maggie was shot dead outside the kennels with an AR-15-style assault rifle by a shooter standing around four or five feet away, Dr Kinsey said. She was hit by multiple bullets "in very quick succession" whilst facing the kennels, he added.

Police have not found either weapon.

Theory 1: Alex Murdaugh is responsible for the death of his wife and son

Prosecutors say evidence shows Alex Murdaugh was at the scene of the crime with Maggie and Paul. Video footage taken by Paul that is believed to be minutes before he died features three voices, and prosecutors have claimed those voices are Murdaugh, his wife and their son.

Murdaugh has maintained that he wasn't at the scene of the crime and later discovered his wife and son's bodies near the dog kennels at the estate.

Evidence also presented at the trial has shown Maggie and Paul were aware Murdaugh was spending $60,000 a week on his 20-year opioid addiction. Text messages show Paul confronted his father on the issue after allegedly finding a "bag of drugs" one month before his and his mom's deaths, per The Independent.

Murdaugh is facing more than 100 other charges for alleged financial crimes as well. The former lawyer also allegedly tried to fake his own death in December 2021 so his surviving son, Buster, could benefit from a $10 million life insurance settlement, The New York Times reported.

Theory 2: There were two shooters who killed Maggie and Paul Murdaugh

Murdaugh's defense attorney Dick Harpootlian argued that the manner in which Maggie and Paul were killed suggests there were two shooters, per WTOC.

It was argued that one shooter attacked Paul whilst another acted as lookout. This lookout was then allegedly intercepted by Maggie, so they killed her. Murdaugh's defense also said the fact different weapons were used in the shootings added to the theory.

The trial, on day 22 as of February 22, has been taking place at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal is out on Netflix now.