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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Rachel Sharp

Audio reveals Alex Murdaugh blaming dogs for housekeeper’s death – after he walked back claim five years later


Newly-released audio has captured convicted killer Alex Murdaugh blaming his family dogs for the death of his housekeeper – as he now attempts to walk back the claim five years later.

In a 2018 interview, the disgraced legal dysnasty heir claims that he had gone to work on the morning of 2 February 2018 when he received a call from his wife Maggie.

In the call, Maggie told him that their longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield had been injured at the Murdaugh family home on their 1,700-acre Moselle estate in South Carolina.

“I went to work that morning and I received a phone call from my wife that Gloria was injured – seriously injured – and asking me if I could come home,” he says.

“I immediately left and headed to Moselle.”

He says he sped to the home – making the journey in around 10 minutes – and arrived before emergency responders.

“On arriving I found Gloria, my wife and son Paul and employee Ronnie Freeman in the landing area at the bottom of the steps,” he says.

Murdaugh says that Gloria was “sitting up” and there was a “big pool of blood” on the ground.

“A lot of blood on the side of her face and shortly after I arrived EMS arrived and tended to her,” he says.

Before Satterfield was taken away in the ambulance, Murdaugh claims that he asked her what had happened.

“She indicated that the dogs had caused her to fall,” he says.

The interview – released on Monday by attorneys representing Satterfield’s sons – was conducted back in 2018 as part of an insurance claim brought over her death.

Satterfield, who worked for the family for more than 20 years, died on 26 February 2018 – three weeks after she was found at the bottom of the steps leading into the Murdaugh family’s home.

Alex Murdaugh testifying at his murder trial (AP)

At the time, Murdaugh claimed that she had tripped over the family’s dogs and hit her head, and her death was regarded as an accidental fall.

However, her death certificate cited her manner of death as “natural” and no autopsy was ever carried out.

In an investigative report accompanying the claim in November 2018 – and also released on Monday – the investigator wrote how Murdaugh had claimed “Satterfield indicated something to him about ‘the dogs tripped her up.’”

“Alex told me that he had heard, from one or more of Satterfield’s relatives he cannot really recall, was that Satterfield had reported that ‘the dogs tripped her up,’” the report added.

The document also included accounts from Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and son Paul – who he brutally murdered on the grounds of the same Moselle property three years later in June 2021.

Both Maggie and Paul said that they were inside the house sleeping when they were woken by the sound of the family’s dogs barking, the report states.

Maggie said that she had heard the dogs barking “in an unusual tone, as if something had happened” and went outside to find Satterfield lying on the ground with a bleeding head wound.

She said that Satterfield was conscious but was mumbling “gibberish” and did not what happened, the report states.

At the time, the family’s four dogs – Bubba, Blue, Bourbon and Sassie – were near Satterfield.

“Satterfield never told Maggie why Satterfield fell,” the report says.

Gloria Satterfield died in a ‘trip and fall’ at the Murdaugh home in 2018 (Provided)

Maggie said that she believed one or more of the dogs had caused Satterfield to trip and fall, however, describing the chocolate lab Bourbon as “’just horrible’ and always whining, seeking attention, and getting excited”.

Paul, meanwhile, said in an interview he gave that he “remembers that his father Alex arrived and asked what happened and that Satterfield ‘said something about dogs.’”

The interview and investigative report were released by attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter on Monday as they push back on Murdaugh’s sudden change in version of events as to what happened to Satterfield – and accuse the serial liar of lying about lying.

Following her death, Murdaugh claimed he would bring a wrongful death lawsuit against himself on behalf of Satterfield’s two sons.

He did but then allegedly stole $4m in settlement money for himself and the housekeeper’s sons didn’t get a dime.

Murdaugh is now charged with stealing $4m from Satterfield’s family as part of a decade-long multi-million-dollar fraud scheme where he stole millions from his law firm and legal clients.

He is also being sued by insurance company Nautilus for insurance fraud after he allegedly pocketed the money meant for the Satterfield family himself.

Last week, in court documents responding to that lawsuit, Murdaugh made a bombshell confession claiming he had “invented” the story that Satterfield tripped over the dogs – claiming he did so in order to ensure the life insurance company paid up.

“No dogs were involved in the fall of Gloria Satterfield on February 2, 2018,” the documents read.

“After Ms. Satterfield’s death, Defendant invented Ms. Satterfield’s purported 2 statement that dogs caused her fall to force his insurers to make a settlement payment, and he stated that she was not on the property to perform work.”

He also went onto claim that Satterfield’s sons – his alleged fraud victims – should also be facing legal action from Nautilus because they have recovered more than $7.5m as a result of the wrongful death suit.

“If Nautilus never should have made any payment to the Satterfield estate and only attempted to do so because it was the victim of fraud, then the parties in possession of a recovery of the money allegedly stolen from Nautilus are necessary parties to an action by Nautilus for recovery of that money because (a) the ‘court cannot accord complete relief among [the] existing parties’ in their absence, and (b) those persons and entities ‘claim[] an interest relating to the subject of this action’ and their absence will ‘leave [existing parties] subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations because of that interest,” he wrote.

Buster, Maggie, Paul and Alex Murdaugh (Maggie Murdaugh/Facebook)

In a press conference on Monday, Mr Richter hit out at the “latest misinformation campaign” from the “well-documented liar”.

“As if he has not caused enough damage to the Satterfield fam, Murdaugh took additional steps in the lawsuit,” he said.

Mr Bland said that Murdaugh was lying by changing his story in an effort to try to sway Nautilus to recoup the stolen money from the Satterfields and not from himself.

“He wants to keep the money,” he said.

Mr Bland explained that if the dogs did not cause the trip and fall accident, then this would potentially mean that Murdaugh – and the insurance company – would no longer be liable to pay out.

He said that this was merely the latest efforts by Murdaugh to avoid accountability.

“It’s very convenient that the three people who could contradict Alex are all dead – Paul, Maggie and Gloria,” he said.

Questions have long been swirling around Satterfield’s death after the string of deaths, stolen money and corruption surrounding Murdaugh came to light.

In September 2021, an investigation was reopened into her death and investigators said they planned to exhume her body.

This came just days after Murdaugh’s financial fraud scheme came to light and three months after the double murder of his wife Maggie and son Paul – who were shot to death on the same property where Satterfield had her fatal “fall”.

This March, Murdaugh was found guilty of the 7 June 2021 murders and was sentenced to life in prison.

At his high-profile trial, jurors heard how he was motivated to kill his family in a bid to distract from his financial crimes which were on the brink of exposure – including the theft from the Satterfield family.

Satterfield’s death isn’t the only mystery death tied to the South Carolina legal dynasty.

A homicide investigation has also been opened into the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, who was found dead in the middle of a road in Hampton County.

The openly gay 19-year-old had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and his death was officially ruled a hit-and-run. But Smith’s family have long doubted this version of events, with the Murdaugh name cropping up in several police tips and community rumours.

At the time of his murder, Paul was also awaiting trial for the boat crash death of Mallory Beach.

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