About one minute before Paul Murdaugh was fatally shot on June 7, 2021 near the kennels of his family’s South Carolina estate, the 22-year-old was texting his friend about a dog’s tail.
“See if you can get a good picture of it. Marion wants to send it to a girl we know that’s a vet. Get him to sit and stay. He shouldn’t move around too much,” Rogan Gibson, one of Paul’s friends who had left his dog inside the Murdaugh family kennels, said in an 8:49 p.m. text message.
The text came after a four-minute phone call, where Paul and Gibson had been discussing a problem with the dog’s tail. So when Gibson’s text went unanswered, according to cell phone activity detailed by SLED special agent Jeff Croft on Monday, the friend sent another message.
“Yo,” Gibson wrote at 9:58 p.m., before unsuccessfully attempting to call Paul five times.
When he still had not heard from Paul almost an hour later, Gibson texted Paul’s mother, Maggie Murdaugh for some help.
“Tell Paul to call me,” Gibson wrote in a 9:34 p.m. text.
But he was also met with radio silence—because, prosecutors say, Alex Murdaugh had already murdered his son and fatally shot his 52-year-old wife at least four times before turning off their phones.
The new details about the last activity on Paul and Maggie’s phones came on the sixth day of testimony in Murdaugh’s murder trial in Colleton County court. Croft, the tenth prosecutorial witness since the trial began last week, went into detail about several pieces of evidence that were collected at the scene—including the cell phones, a Gucci receipt where someone had circled a $1,021 purchase, and shell casings of the two guns allegedly used in the crime. Neither murder weapon, however, has been recovered.
Croft told jurors on Monday that he interviewed Gibson the morning after the murders, where the friend provided him with his last messages with Paul and Maggie. The SLED agent also testified that after the grisly slaying, Gibson said that Murdaugh called him four times. Gibson is also notable among the 250 possible witnesses who could testify in this case deemed the “trial of the century” in South Carolina.
Murdaugh, a 54-year-old former lawyer, is facing 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. If convicted, he faces 30 years in prison.
His defense lawyers have argued that Murdaugh, who pleaded not guilty, had no motive to murder his “wonderful” wife and child—and that there is no concrete evidence tying him to the slayings.
But prosecutors revealed last week that the cell phone activity of Murdaugh and his family is crucial to proving their case—noting that the data proves that he was in the dog kennels with his family longer than he previously indicated. It also shows that after the murders at around 8:50 p.m., Murdaugh took steps to try to establish a cover story by going to his ailing mother’s house while simultaneously calling multiple people.
Among the people, prosecutors say Murdaugh called: his dead wife and son, his father, his brother, and several friends. He also allegedly texted Maggie twice.
“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 murder trial.