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A deadly fall and $4m stolen: What happened to Alex Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield?

Gloria Satterfield died in February 2018 after a trip and fall at the Murdaugh family home – the same home where Alex Murdaugh would murder his wife and son three years later

Rachel Sharp
Monday 01 April 2024 17:11 BST
Related video: Alex Murdaugh arrives at court for state financial crimes hearing

For more than two decades, Gloria Satterfield helped to raise Alex Murdaugh’s two sons Buster and Paul.

And, when she died after falling down steps at the family’s home, he claimed to want to return the favour by taking care of her two sons financially.

But, instead, he schemed and conned and stole $4m from them through a wrongful death lawsuit payout.

Now, for a second time in the space of a few months, Murdaugh has been sentenced to a lengthy jail time for these crimes.

On 1 April, the convicted killer and fallen legal dynasty heir was handed an additional 40 year prison sentence for stealing millions from victims including the Satterfields as part of a decade-long, multi-million-dollar fraud scheme.

The sentence will be served concurrently with his state sentence of 27 years on the same financial crime charges, landing him with an additional 13 years when his state sentence is over.

Gloria Satterfield died in a ‘trip and fall’ at the Murdaugh home in 2018 (Provided)

Regardless of these charges, Murdaugh is already destined to die behind bars after he was handed two life sentences for murdering his wife Maggie and son Paul at his so-called “trial of the century” in spring 2023.

So what happened to Gloria Satterfield?

Satterfield had worked as the Murdaugh family housekeeper for more than two decades, even acting as a “second mom” to Buster and Paul.

In February 2018, she was found at the bottom of the steps leading into the Murdaugh family home on their 1,700-acre Moselle estate in Islandton, South Carolina – the same estate where Murdaugh murdered his wife Maggie and son Paul just three years later.

She never resumed consciousness and died from her injuries three weeks later on 26 February.

At the time, Murdaugh claimed that she had tripped over the family’s dogs and hit her head, and her death was regarded as an accidental fall.

However, her death certificate cited her manner of death as “natural” and no autopsy was ever carried out.

Following her death, Murdaugh recommended that her sons hire his accomplice and fellow attorney Cory Fleming to represent them in bringing a wrongful death claim against him so that they could collect from his homeowner’s insurance policies.

The insurance companies ultimately settled the estate’s claim for more than $4.3m – two payments of $505,000 and $3.8m.

Murdaugh and Fleming then stole the settlement money for themselves and the housekeeper’s sons never received a dime.

The scheme came to light in the months after Maggie and Paul’s June 2021 murders.

That September, Murdaugh was arrested over the fraud scheme and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced it was reopening an investigation into her death.

Investigators also said they planned to exhume her body, with questions mounting about the nature of her death.

Tony Satterfield addresses the court during Alex Murdaugh’s state sentencing in November (AP)

While awaiting trial on the fraud charges, Murdaugh sought to claim that he lied about her death originally – saying he “invented” the story that she fell over their dogs in order to ensure the life insurance company paid up.

However, a 2018 interview poured cold water on his sudden change of story – and victims’ attorneys said that he was changing tact to avoid paying up.

At both his state and federal sentencings, Satterfields’ family members delivered emotional statements about the impact he had on their lives.

Speaking at his federal sentencing, Satterfield’s son Tony Satterfield revealed how his faith gave him hope.

“A lot of people say there is no hope, but there is and it starts with the gospel,” he said.

Satterfield’s sister Ginger Hadwin told Murdaugh at his state sentencing in November how her sibling loved his children like his own – and yet he betrayed her in a way she “will never understand”.

“Gloria worked very hard for you for 20 years. She loved Buster and Paul as her own. She loved Maggie and she trusted you wholeheartedly,” she said.

“She trusted you and your family as her own family. To be betrayed by you, I will never understand. And how you were able to profit from her death, we wil never be able to understand.”

To Murdaugh directly, she asked: “Do you not have a soul? I don’t understand it but then I thank God I don’t understand it as maybe I would be in the same positon as you.”

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