Statement Analysis®

Did Alex Murdaugh Murder His Wife and Son?

In June 2021, prominent South Carolina Attorney Alex Murdaugh called 911 to report his wife Maggie and son Paul had been shot and killed at the family's hunting property approximately 60 miles west of Charleston, SC. On July 2022, Murdaugh was indicated on two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife and son.

Murdaugh's trial began in January 2023. The prosecution played an interview South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Agent David Owen conducted with Murdaugh in August 2021. Murdaugh claimed he was not at home when Maggie and Paul were killed. He stated he was visiting his mother and found their bodies when he returned home around 10:00 pm. Paul’s friend, Rogan Gibson, said he heard Murdaugh’s voice in the background of a phone call he had with Paul that night, shortly before the murders took place. Agent Owen told Murdaugh he could be heard in the background of the phone conversation and that was prior to 9 p.m.

D.O.: "Was it you?"
A.M.: "At nine o’clock? No sir, not if my times are right."
D.O.: "Who do you think it could have been?"
A.M.: "I have no idea."

The first thing we see is that Murdaugh answered a question with a question; "At nine o'clock?" Answering a question with a question means the person was asked a sensitive question. This is a stall tactic giving Murdaugh time to think about how he should answer the question. We can see it is clearly a stall tactic because he did not wait for Agent Owen to answer his question; "At nine o'clock?" If Murdaugh wasn't there at that time the murders took place, then why does he need to think about his answer?

The second thing we see is that Murdaugh used the phrase "I have no idea." Rarely can a person honestly say this. Most people have an idea or an opinion on just about everything. When people say, "I have no idea" or "I have no clue" they are acting like they know absolutely nothing. That is why it is hard to believe this is a truthful statement. A better answer is to say, "I don't know."

In February, the prosecution rested their case against Murdaugh. The defense then presented their case and put Murdaugh on the stand. Murdaugh testified that he lied to Agent Owen when he said he was not at his residence during the time frame his wife and son were killed. Now we see why the question "Was it you?" was a sensitive question for Murdaugh and why he used the deceptive phrase "I have no idea."

During his testimony, Murdaugh's attorney asked him the following questions:

Q. "Alex, did you murder Maggie?"
A. "I would never hurt Maggie."
Q. "Did you murder Paul?"
A. "I would never hurt Paul."

First, we see that Murdaugh did not answer the specific question. He wasn't asked if he hurt Maggie and Paul. He was asked if he murdered them.

Secondly, instead of answering the questions by saying "no," Murdaugh used the word "never." The word "never" does not mean "no." Therefore, you cannot substitute the word "never" for the word "no." Deceptive people like to use the word "never."

It should be noted that earlier, Murdaugh was asked if killed his wife and son. At that time, he answered by saying "no." Some might argue that because he has already said "no," he felt he didn't need to say it again. However, we expect him to be consistent which is a sign of truthfulness. It could also be that he views killing and murder as two different things.

At the time of this writing, the trial is still ongoing. We will have to wait and see what the jury says.

On March 2, 2023, after deliberating for only three hours, the jury found Alex Murdaugh guilty of murder in the deaths of his wife Margaret and son Paul.

Alex Murdaugh 911 Call

Now that the 911 call made by Alex Murdaugh has been released, we can take a look at it to see if there is any deception in the call.

911 operator: (inaudible) "911, where is your emergency?"
Alex Murdaugh: "This is Alex Murdaugh at 4147 Moselle Road. I need the police and an ambulance immediately. My wife and son were just shot badly."

Since the 911 operator asked where and not what is your emergency, Murdaugh states his name and address. He then asked for two things: the police and an ambulance. Order is important. The first thing he asked for was the police. Even though a crime has been committed and needs to be solved, most people would be asking for emergency medical services. Getting help for your family members is the first priority. So, why did he first ask for the police? There is the possibility he was going to turn himself in but that seems unlikely. Another reason may be he knew his wife and son were dead. Therefore, emergency medical services cannot provide any assistance. How did he know his wife and son were dead? Most people hold out some hope that the victim will survive.

Murdaugh said his wife and son were "just shot." How does he know that if he didn't witness there shooting? I believe based on his time line, that last time he saw his wife and son was approximately one hour ago. Therefore, they could have been shot one hour ago or 50 minutes ago. He said they were "just shot."

911 operator: "Okay, you said '4147 Moselle Road in Islandton'?"
Alex Murdaugh: "Sir?
911 operator: "You said '4147 Moselle Road in Islandton'?"
Alex Murdaugh: "Yes, sir, 4147 Moselle Road, please, help me, hurry."

Murdaugh answered a question with a question, "Sir?" This usually means the person was asked a sensitive question. It is possible Murdaugh did not hear the operator's question.

Murdaugh asked for help for himself, "Please, help me, hurry." He hasn't suffered any injuries. He should have simply said, "Please hurry."

The rest of the 911 call for the most part appears to be okay. There were times when Murdaugh stuttered when answering a question. Some people have pointed out that Murdaugh used a lot of inappropriate politeness. In a 911 call, an innocent caller will usually forgo social etiquette and not uses phrases such as "Thank you." Murdaugh used the words "sir" and "ma'am" when talking to the operators. I would view this as a Southern thing and not inappropriste politeness.

We do find deception in Murdaugh's 911 call. He asked for help for himself but not specifically for his wife and son. The order of the things he asked for "police and an ambulance" is troublesome. His use of the word "just" places him at the crime scene.

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