Murdaugh Family Murders: Forensic Expert Says Blood Found on Steering Wheel, but None on Alex’s Shirt

A South Carolina forensic expert testified on Monday that the shirt Alex Murdaugh was wearing when police responded to the murders of his wife and son had DNA from his slain son on it.

Sara Zapata, a SLED forensic scientist, testified that while Paul’s DNA was found on a section of Alex’s shirt, a HemaTrace test came back negative. Zapata explained that she was not asked to perform the test — which detects human blood — until August 10, more than two months after Paul and Maggie’s slayings.

Zapata said 74 cuttings were taken from Alex’s shirt and none of them tested positive for blood. She testified that she was not aware the shirt was sent for spatter analysis until after the fact. She declined to speak on blood spatter analysis as that is not her expertise.

Zapata said Maggie’s blood was found on Alex’s steering wheel, but speculated that it may have gotten there if Alex checked her pulse.

Prosecutors have presented evidence suggesting that Alex changed his clothes after killing his wife and son and before he called 911 to report their deaths.

Last week, Alex’s former housekeeper, Blanca Simpson, testified that two months after the murders, Alex mentioned a video and asked her if she recalled a “Vineyard Vines” shirt, to which she said she did not.

According to Simpson, Alex then said, “You know what, I was wearing that shirt that day.”

Simpson said the comment was odd because she remembered fixing his collar and the shirt was not a Vineyard Vines shirt.

She went on to testify that the shirt and shoes Alex is wearing in a video Paul took at Moselle hours before his murder she never saw again after the slayings. Alex is reportedly seen in a different outfit after police came to the home in response to Paul and Maggie’s slayings.

Alex has claimed he was napping on the family property when his wife and son went to the dog kennels and were fatally shot. Alex said he woke up and went to his mother’s home before returning and finding their bodies.

Prosecutors said cell phone data and forensic evidence tie Alex to the slayings. Meanwhile, Alex’s attorney, Dick Harpootlian, said the cell phone records were incomplete and asserted that Alex would be covered in blood if he killed his wife and son at close range. Harpootlian said no blood was found on Alex’s clothing.

In September 2021, months after Paul and Maggie’s slayings, Alex suffered superficial head wounds when he allegedly had former client Curtis Smith, 61, shoot him in the head so his surviving son, Buster, would receive a $10 million insurance payout.

A day before the shooting, Alex was forced out of his family law firm amid allegations he misappropriated funds.

Two days after the apparent botched suicide, Alex announced he was entering rehabilitation for drugs. Shortly after that, he was charged with insurance fraud in connection with the September 2021 suicide-for-hire plot and released on bail.

However, in October 2021, Alex was rearrested upon leaving a rehabilitation center in Florida for allegedly stealing $4.3 million from Satterfield’s estate. In that case, he was accused of stealing insurance payouts that were intended for Satterfield’s family. Authorities plan to exhume her body amid an ongoing investigation regarding her death.

In addition to the murder charges, Alex faces more than 100 criminal counts related to fraud.

In June 2022, Alex and Smith were indicted for allegedly purchasing and distributing oxycodone in multiple counties. In December 2022, Alex was indicted for tax evasion for allegedly failing to claim the $6 million he allegedly earned through illegal acts between 2011 and 2019.

Alex was charged with Maggie and Paul’s murders days after he was formally disbarred by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

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