VARNVILLE, S.C. – Prominent attorney Alex Murdaugh surrendered Thursday after authorities said he attempted to stage his own suicide so his son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy.
Murdaugh, 53, arrived at the Hampton County Law Enforcement Center, which houses both the sheriff’s office and magistrate court, at about 11:30 a.m. local time, ahead of a bond hearing set for 4 p.m.
Murdaugh was charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
“I can assure you that SLED agents will continue working to bring justice to anyone involved with any criminal act associated with these ongoing investigations,” SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a statement shortly after Murdaugh surrendered. “The arrests in this case are only the first step in that process.”
Hours earlier, a judge set bail at $55,000 for the man suspected of pulling the trigger in Murdaugh’s alleged suicide-for-hire plot.
Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was shackled and wore a beige jail jumpsuit during his initial court appearance, as Hampton County Judge Tonja Alexander read allegations against him.
He’s been charged with conspiracy, pointing and presenting a firearm, assisting a person in suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, conspiracy and insurance fraud.
Smith answered basic questions and signed forms, affirming that he understood the proceedings against hm. Alexander asked Smith if he’ll apply for representation by a public defender.
“I’m probably going to go for one, yes,” he responded.
Murdaugh was shot in the head on Sept. 4, three months after the unsolved slayings of his wife and adult son, but suffered a superficial wound. His attorney said Murdaugh was depressed and enlisted a man to kill him, believing his life insurance had a suicide clause.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division also said it opened a criminal investigation into the 2018 death of a longtime housekeeper and nanny for the Murdaugh family.
Catie Beck reported from Varnville, South Carolina, and David K. Li from New York
Erik Ortiz and Juliette Arcodia contributed.