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Attorney for family of former Murdaugh housekeeper discusses lawsuit after SLED opens criminal investigation

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 5:04 PM EDT
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HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has opened a criminal investigation into the death of a Murdaugh housekeeper in 2018.

Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield died from injuries she sustained after “a trip and fall accident,” according to a copy of the wrongful death settlement. The Murdaugh family and Satterfield’s estate reached a settlement of $500,000.

An attorney for Satterfield’s estate has filed a lawsuit, claiming that not “one single dime” has been paid in that settlement.

Attorney Eric Bland filed the lawsuit against Alex Murdaugh and another attorney and law firm on Wednesday after he says he asked them to turn over the missing money. Three hours after he filed the lawsuit, he got the call from SLED that the agency opened a criminal investigation into her death and wanted her sons to know.

“As you can imagine, it has just been a wellspring of emotions for the family. One, the Murdaugh family was like family to them because their mother worked as a house keeper there for 25 years, so she was interwoven into the fabric of the family and by extension her sons were considered close to the family as well,” Bland said.

Bland said Satterfield also was the nanny who took care of the Murdaugh children - Paul and Buster.

“She helped raise these kids,” he said.

Bland said some time in February of 2018, Gloria tripped over the family dogs and fell down the stairs. That’s according to what Alex Murdaugh told Gloria’s sons, a story they believed until recently.

She died on February 26 of that year.

“And one of the things that is difficult for my clients to really understand and comprehend is after she fell and was in the hospital for three weeks, only Maggie came to visit her, not Mr. Murdaugh, not the boys and they didn’t pay for her funeral,” Bland said.

But he said Alex Murdaugh did say he would help take care of them. According to the lawsuit, Alex told them he was going to “sue myself” for the death.

And he introduced them to an attorney named Cory Fleming.

But what they didn’t know, Fleming was a former college roommate of Alex and his best friend. He also was the Godfather of Alex’s son Paul.

According to the lawsuit, Fleming filed an insurance claim against Murdaugh for Gloria’s death citing negligence. In that claim, Alex admitted to being at fault in her death.

That paved the way for an insurance payout from Alec’s insurance company. The net payout was $475,000.

$166,000 of that was paid to Fleming and his law firm

The rest was supposed to go to Gloria’s sons, Tony and Brian. But their attorney says they haven’t received any money and it’s unaccounted for.

“Shocked, sanguine and betrayed. Shocked as to the turn of events, sanguine as to the sheer weight that their mother died by unnatural causes and then betrayed by the Murdaugh family.”

Since he was retained a week ago, Bland now believes the insurance payouts in connection to Gloria’s death are closer to $2 million. And Bland said he thinks Alex Murdaugh redirected those funds into a bank account.

Bland said those findings will be part of a document he intends to file with the court next week.

He also believes there is a federal investigation into the legal troubles involving the Murdaugh family. And that Gloria’s death with be at the center of it all.

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