“Call me babe.”
That was the last text Alex Murdaugh allegedly sent his 52-year-old wife Maggie after five unanswered calls and other messages. But prosecutors say that by the time the 54-year-old former lawyer sent that message on June 7, 2021, Maggie and her son Paul had been dead for almost an hour after Murdaugh allegedly shot them dead near the dog kennels of their South Carolina estate.
The text is among several steps that prosecutors say Murdaugh made after murdering his family around 8:50 p.m. that night. About 10 minutes after the grisly crime, Murdaugh began calling everyone close to him—including his ailing father, several friends, and Maggie. The last text message, which was sent at 9:47 p.m., came about 20 minutes before Murdaugh called 911 to report he found 22-year-old Paul and Maggie by the kennels and not breathing.
“It’s up to you to decide whether or not he was trying to manufacture an alibi,” state prosecutor Creighton Waters said last week at the start of Murdaugh’s highly anticipated murder trial.
Murdaugh, 54, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection with the double homicide. Prosecutors allege that Murdaugh murdered Paul and Maggie in an attempt to turn the spotlight away from his financial crimes and garner sympathy in the community where his family once held legal power. His defense lawyers, however, have argued that Murdaugh had no motive to kill his “wonderful” wife and son—and that there is no tangible evidence linking him to the crime.
If convicted, he faces 30 years in prison.
Over the last week, a dozen witnesses have testified to explain several key pieces of evidence that prosecutors argue prove that Murdaugh murdered his family. Among them: Maggie and Paul’s cell phone data, shell casings found at the scene which allegedly show two guns were used, and a controversial police interview where prosecutors insist Murdaugh accidentally confessed to the crime.
Lt. Britt Dove, who works in the computer crimes center of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, testified on Tuesday that he processed the cell phones that belonged to Murdaugh, Maggie, and Paul. He testified that Maggie’s phone data showed that the last text messages she read came before 8:49 p.m., which included a text from her brother-in-law, John Marvin Murdaugh, asking if anyone was going to see her father-in-law the following day.
After that, Maggie would miss several phone calls from Murdaugh, her elder son, Buster, and John Marvin. She also missed several text messages, including one 9:34 p.m. message from one of Paul Murdaugh’s friends who had been talking to him about a dog just before he was murdered.
The data also revealed that Maggie’s phone orientation changed from portrait to landscape minutes after her cell was locked for the rest of the night. Dove testified that the data suggests that someone other than Maggie picked up her phone and could not unlock it with their face. Seconds after Maggie’s phone changed orientation again—suggesting someone help it up in their hand—Murdaugh called.
“Going to check on M. Be right back,” Dove said Murdaugh texted his wife around 9:08 p.m. that night. Murdaugh told investigators that at the time of the murders, he had left the house to go visit his ailing mother and called his family several times on the way home.
Dove also testified Maggie’s phone also recorded 59 steps in two minutes after 8:53 p.m.—just moments after prosecutors allege Murdaugh killed his family.
“It tells me someone was holding this phone and took steps, and it recorded those steps,” Dove said.
Murdaugh continued to call three more times before sending the last text message, Dove testified.