Convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh admitted to lying about the circumstances of housekeeper Gloria Satterfield’s trip-and-fall death at the family’s hunting lodge, according to court documents filed Monday.
In 2018, Satterfield fell down the stairs at the Murdaugh’s South Carolina estate, called Moselle, where Murdaugh would eventually shoot and kill his wife and son three years later. At the time of her death, he said Satterfield’s fatal tumble was caused by one of his dogs tripping her.
In a Monday court filing, Murdaugh admitted “he invented the critical facts” of Satterfield’s death.
“No dogs were involved in the fall of Gloria Satterfield on February 2, 2018,” the filing reads.
The document was filed in response to a lawsuit from Nautilus Insurance, which alleges Murdaugh lied about the circumstances of Satterfield’s death in order to fraudulently obtain an insurance payout, which he then stole from Satterfield’s sons.
In Monday’s filing, Murdaugh admitted to lying but “denies the existence of any conspiracy to improperly cause Nautilus to pay a fraudulent claim.”
After Satterfield’s fall, she briefly regained consciousness, during which time Murdaugh claimed she told him that one of the dogs had caused her to trip.
“This statement was heard by no one else and is contradicted by Ms. Satterfield’s later statement to hospital staff that she had no idea what made her fall,” the document reads.
Murdaugh further claimed at the time that Satterfield wasn’t working when the accident occurred, so as to avoid a worker’s compensation defence.
“After Ms. Satterfield’s death, (Murdaugh) invented Ms. Satterfield’s purported statement that dogs caused her to fall to force his insurers to make a settlement payment.”
Nautilus is accusing Murdaugh of convincing the Satterfield children to sue him after their mother’s death in a bogus bid to get them an insurance settlement. Murdaugh then secretly pocketed the US$3.8 million payout and told the Satterfields that a settlement was never reached.
Nautilus has also named ex-lawyer Cory Fleming as one of Murdaugh’s co-conspirators in the scheme, but Murdaugh claims he acted alone in Monday’s legal filing.
The document also notes that the Satterfields recovered more than US$7.5 million after Murdaugh allegedly stole the insurance money. Murdaugh’s filing contends that Nautilus should look to recoup its missing funds from the Satterfields, since a payout never should have occurred if Murdaugh lied about the circumstances of the death.
“If Nautilus never should have made any payment to the Satterfield estate and only attempted to do so because it was the victim of fraud, then the parties in possession of a recovery of the money allegedly stolen from Nautilus are necessary parties to an action by Nautilus,” the filing reads.
Lawyer Eric Bland, who represents the Satterfield family, claims that Murdaugh is lying once again to avoid blame.
“Seems there is buzz because liar liar Alex now says he allegedly made up the story that Gloria Satterfield didnt fall down Moselle stairs by his dogs. Since when did Alex become the modicum of honesty and credibility,” he wrote in a lengthy Twitter post.
Bland also claims that the Satterfields never received any money from Nautilus, and recouped the US$7.5 million from “from parties other than Nautilus for breaches of their duties to our clients and other claims.”
“Technically the money that Nautilus paid never came to our clients. It was stolen by Alex so there is an argument that they still owe it to our clients by releases signed by the parties,” he wrote.
“This is nothing but noise. Just gutless people trying to continue to victimize Gloria’s siblings and children,” the tweet concludes.
Satterfield’s death is currently being investigated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Authorities reopened her death inquiry during its investigation of Murdaugh in 2021, which led to his conviction and life sentence for killing his wife and son.