Breaking the silence, Brother Murdo says ‘not knowing is the worst thing’

Randy Murdo gathers firewood on his hunting property outside Hampton, South Carolina, on March 5, 2023. (Nicholas Bogle-Burroughs/The New York Times)

HAMPTON, S.C. — At first glance, the lives of Alex Murdough and his older brother Randy seem to follow the same path: They were born two years apart, both attended the University of South Carolina for college and law school, and then the two worked as partners in the family firm, which grew out of the century-old law practice founded by their great-grandfather.

But even in college it was clear they were different. Alex Murdo was briefly on the football team and a regular at college parties; Randy Murdo, a self-described “hometown boy,” returned home to the Hamptons every weekend to hunt and fish. In recent years, their offices had been close enough for Randy Murdo to hear his brother’s constant phone calls, but they rarely spent time alone together.

“There’s not necessarily a problem with our relationship,” Randy Murdo said. “We just weren’t really alike, so we didn’t do things together.”

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Then came Alex Murdo’s arrest in July 2022 for murdering his wife and son, amid widening allegations that he had stolen millions of dollars from clients and the law firm, forcing Randy Murdo to question whether he ever really knew your brother.

A jury concluded last week after less than three hours of deliberation that Alex Murdo was guilty of the murders, but there was no such certainty for Randy Murdo. He has spent nearly every day for the past 20 months trying to figure out what might have happened the night Maggie and Paul Murdo were fatally shot.

In the first interview given by a family member since the trial, Randy Murdo said he had no doubt his brother was a serial liar and thief. He said he also believes Alex Murdo hasn’t told the whole truth about what he knows about the murders.

But when asked directly if he thought his brother committed the murders, he said he still didn’t know. As a lawyer, he said, he respects the jury’s verdict, but finds it impossible to imagine Alex Murdo — a man he has known for decades as a husband and protective father — pulling the trigger and causing the carnage that prosecutors described as a crime of cold calculation.

“He knows more than he’s letting on,” Randy Murdo said. “He’s not telling the truth, I think, about everything there.”

For his entire family, he said, it is among the most painful issues to face.

“Ignorance,” said Randy Murdo, “is the worst thing there is.”

Randy Murdo’s complicated view of the case, which he shared in a two-hour conversation Sunday while gathering firewood on his hunting property outside the town of Hampton, was at odds with the final statement one of Alex Murdo’s attorneys made Friday about the Murdo family.

“After six weeks of trial, they came out more convinced that he didn’t do it, and they are firmly in his camp and supporting him,” attorney Jim Griffin said at a press conference after Alex Murdo was sentenced to two life sentences. prison conditions.

Alex Murdo’s younger brother, John Marvin Murdo, and surviving son, Buster Murdo, testified for the trial, saying he appeared devastated after the murders. Randy Murdo, who emphasized that he was speaking for himself and not for any of his relatives, was not called to testify. He thinks it’s possible no one put him on the stand because he doesn’t agree perfectly with either side.

In the weeks following the murders, the family mobilized to support Alex Murdo, grieving alongside him as he suggested that Paul Murdo must have been targeted for his involvement in a fatal boating accident in 2019, a theory that Alex Murdo continued to push during his trial.

About three months after the murders, Randy Murdo said, the other partners at the law firm called Randy Murdo in to review some financial records that showed without a doubt that Alex Murdo was stealing from the firm. Randy Murdo and another partner confronted Alex Murdo the next morning, he said, in a tense conversation in which Alex Murdo admitted to the embezzlement and revealed a serious addiction to painkillers, which Alex Murdo said prompted the thefts. Randy Murdo remembered that his brother seemed relieved to stand up.

Alex promised this morning that she would never lie to him again. It took him about 24 hours to break that promise, Randy Murdo said, when he told Randy Murdo and police that he had been shot on the side of the road by an unknown assailant. In fact, police later said that Alex Murdo had asked someone to kill him. When this fact became clear, Alex Murdo claimed it was a suicide attempt, telling the police that he had hoped that if his death was ruled a homicide, it would allow Buster Murdo to collect on his life insurance.

Over the next few months, when Alex Murdo was accused of stealing more than $8 million from the law firm and clients, Randy Murdo said he came to see his brother as a deeply flawed man and a liar. They haven’t spoken in nearly a year.

Randy Murdo said he also began to recall Alex Murdo’s behavior in the first few weeks after the murders. At the time, the police seemed to have few leads, and Randy Murdo began calling just about anyone he thought could help, asking if they had heard anything that would suggest why Maggie and Paul Murdo might have been targeted. . He reported everything he heard to the police.

“I spent a considerable amount of time, day after day for weeks, calling people,” he said. But Alex Murdo, he said, never did. Maggie Murdo’s sister testified at the trial to the same effect, saying she found it strange that Alex Murdo never talked about who the killer might be. He told her, she said, that she imagined whoever did this had “thought about it for a long time.”

Before the murders, Randy Murdo was content to live a relatively simple life, making a good living at the family business, raising two daughters and spending weekends hunting at an idyllic estate outside the Hamptons. But much of that life has been torn apart as international attention is focused on South Carolina’s Lowcountry and his family. Now, much of the Murdo family is focused on supporting 26-year-old Buster, who has lost his entire immediate family.

Randy Murdo continues to work at the law firm, taking on several of his brother’s former clients. He feels the need to explain.

“Listen, I’m not him. I do things the right way, I always have,” he tells customers. “I don’t go around things.”

Unlike his siblings John Marvin Murdo and Lynn Murdo Goethe, Randy Murdo did not attend every day of the six-week trial in Walterboro. One day last month, as Alex sat at the defense table, his every move closely watched by spectators and people from around the country watching on television, Randy Murdo stood before a judge in an almost empty courtroom a short drive away.

There, in the Hampton County Courthouse, he was dealing with a settlement for a family his brother had represented long before his abuse came to light. In court, Randy Murdo noted each of the extra steps he took to make sure customers were not among those Alex Murdo stole money from.

“It was too much, but I have to do it,” Randy Murdo said.

He said he never really expected the murder trial to offer him the final answer he was looking for, but he hoped he could keep his lawyer’s mind from running through all the possible scenarios of what happened that tragic night in June 2021

“I was hoping that after the trial, since there was nothing more to present, I would stop thinking about it,” he said. “But so far that hasn’t been the case.”

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