The Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, S.C.)
The S. C Law Enforcement Division opened an investigation into the 2018 death of the Murdaugh family’s maid —the agency’s fifth investigation related to the Murdaugh family — after receiving a request from the Hampton County coroner, an agency release said Wednesday afternoon.
Coroner Angela Topper asked for the investigation in an undated letter to SLED Chief Mark Keel, saying the woman’s death was not reported to the Coroner’s Office when it occurred on Feb. 26, 2018, and that an autopsy was never performed.
Gloria Satterfield, 57, of Hampton County was a maid and nanny in the Murdaugh household for about 20 years until she died in a local hospital after falling in the Murdaughs’ home and sustaining an injury. Her obituary says she loved Alex and Maggie Murdaugh as family.
“On the death certificate the manner of death was ruled ‘Natural,’ which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall incident,” the coroner wrote. “In light of the inconsistencies noted above, I feel that it is prudent to pursue an investigation into Gloria Satterfield’s death.”
SLED’s news release announcing the investigation was one sentence: “Based upon a request from the Hampton County Coroner earlier today, as well as information gathered during the course of our other ongoing investigations involving Alex Murdaugh, SLED is opening a criminal investigation into the death of Gloria Satterfield and the handling of her estate.”
In her letter, Topper cites the wrongful death settlement lawsuit filed Wednesday by Satterfield’s sons in Hampton County against Alex Murdaugh, which was filed just hours before SLED announced the new investigation.
Satterfield’s sons’ lawsuit against Alex Murdaugh asks for a half-million dollars to settle a wrongful death claim in their mother’s death.
The lawsuit claims Murdaugh took responsibility for Satterfield’s death and told them he would “sue himself” to provide the family with financial compensation, according to the lawsuit. Murdaugh also provided them an attorney with close personal ties to his family.
This is the sixth ongoing criminal investigation related to the Murdaughs, the fifth led by SLED, and its second death investigation since Paul Murdaugh and his mother, Maggie, were found shot to death at their Colleton County estate on June 7.
Two weeks after the Murdaughs’ double murder, the 2015 cold case investigating 19-year-old Stephen Smith’s death was reopened. SLED said it decided to reopen the case based on information gathered during the investigation into the deaths of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.
The state Attorney General’s Office has opened an investigation into possible obstruction of justice in the investigation of the fatal boat crash in 2019 that killed Mallory Beach, 19. Paul Murdaugh was awaiting trial on charges of felony boating under the influence when he died.
In addition to the double homicide, the deaths of Stephen Smith and Satterfield, SLED is investigating the shooting of Alex Murdaugh, who is accused of paying a former client to kill him so he could get a $10 million insurance payment for his son, as well as allegations of missing money from Murdaugh’s former law firm.
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