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Son found dead with his mother may have been targeted; was awaiting trial for boat accident that killed 19-year-old woman

As police in South Carolina investigate the shooting deaths of a son and mother, investigators are exploring the possibility that the son was the intended target and the mother was collateral damage, the Island Packet reports.

On Monday, the bodies of 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh and his mother, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, were reportedly found at the family’s hunting lodge. Authorities believe the shootings occurred between 9 and 9:30 pm.

The Murdaughs are a prominent family in South Carolina who have long been part of the state’s legal community. Alex Murdaugh, Paul’s father and Maggie’s husband, is an attorney at a powerful law firm that bears the family’s name. The firm was founded in 1910 by Randolph Murdaugh.

Alex reportedly discovered the bodies near a dog kennel and has said he was not home at the time of the killings, according to the newspaper.

Paul appeared to have been shot in the upper body and head with a shotgun, and Maggie appeared to have been killed with an assault rifle.

Among other lines of inquiry, authorities are reportedly investigating whether Paul was the primary focus of whoever pulled the trigger.

At the time of the slayings, Paul was facing legal problems in connection with the death of a young woman. He was charged with three felony counts of boating under the influence after a boat crash in February 2019 killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach and injured others. Investigators said people on the boat were “grossly intoxicated,” according to WJCL-TV.

Paul pleaded not guilty and the charges were eventually dropped, but a civil lawsuit remains pending.

In a written statement, the Beach family, who are the plaintiffs in the civil suit, expressed empathy for the Murdaughs.

“Having suffered the devastating loss of their own daughter, the family prays that the Murdaughs can find some level of peace from this tragic loss,” the statement reads, according to WTOC-TV. “They would like the family and the community to know that their thoughts and continued prayers are with the Murdaughs.”

Randolph Murdaugh III, Paul’s grandfather, died this week three days after the killings from apparent natural causes at 81 years old.

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