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Watch the Dateline episode "Dark Waters" now

Craig Melvin reports.

Alex Murdaugh was successful, powerful, and well-known throughout the Hampton County, South Carolina community. In fact, the Murdaugh family had been a Lowcountry powerhouse ever since Alex's great-grandfather established the family business – a civil law firm known for winning large settlements.

But our story begins in February of 2019. Alex and Maggie Murdaugh's youngest son, Paul, met some friends at his family's riverfront property. The group then took the Murdaugh family boat to a local oyster roast that night. No one had thought twice about riding in the boat with Paul. And then the drinking started…

Just before 2:30 a.m., a call came in to 911. There had been an accident. First responders arrived to a chaotic scene. The boat had crashed into a bridge piling, throwing several of the friends into the cold water. Everyone made it to shore – except Mallory Beach.

The search for Mallory ended a week later when two volunteers discovered her body.

Her family was determined that Mallory’s death would not be in vain. They filed a wrongful death lawsuit against, among others, the family patriarch, Alex Murdaugh. The suit claimed he condoned his son’s underage drinking.

The Beach family had a feeling something bigger would be brought to light…

But even they could have had no idea how big it would be.

The wrongful death suit led to allegations of past financial improprieties by Alex Murdaugh involving clients and millions of dollars.

One of the clients who lodged a complaint against Alex was Pamela Pinckney, whose son was paralyzed after a car accident in 2009 and later died. You can read more about their story here.

Another client was the family of Gloria Satterfield, the longtime Murdaugh family housekeeper, who died in 2018 following a fall outside the Murdaugh home. Learn about the Gloria’s Gift Foundation they created in Gloria’s memory:

And that was just the beginning. This is an epic Southern Gothic tale of scandal and betrayal that would ultimately see Alex Murdaugh fired from the law firm that bore his family’s name for generations, and then charged with the murders of his wife, Maggie, and his son Paul. Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to the murders and is expected to go on trial in January of 2023.

For all the details, watch the full episode, “Dark Waters” now.

You can also watch on Peacock TV or listen to the podcast.

After you’ve watched the episode, listen to Alex Murdaugh talk to his sister-in-law about the gunshot wound to his head from a roadside shooting that he later alleged was a failed assisted suicide attempt:

Plus, listen to one of his jail calls with his remaining son, Buster:

Be sure to check out the bonus podcast episode, DATELINE DEBRIEF: Dark Waters, featuring Craig Melvin & producer Carol Gable – two South Carolina natives – as they discuss the behind-the-scene details of this story.