In their first television interview, the family of Alex Murdaugh's longtime housekeeper and nanny, Gloria Satterfield, spoke with NBC about their ordeal since her February 2018 death from what was described as an accidental fall at the Murdaugh family home.
In a preview of the exclusive "Dateline" interview that aired Friday morning on TODAY, the family said Satterfield considered the Murdaughs to be family, and after her death Alex Murdaugh promised to take care of her sons.
Instead, years passed without any financial assistance. After the mysterious deaths of Alex Murdaugh's wife, Maggie, and the couple's younger son Paul became national news and questions swirled around the family, Gloria Satterfield's death became part of the story.
Attorneys for her adult sons, Michael "Tony" Satterfield and Brian Harriott, claim the two received none of the proceeds from a $4.3 million settlement they said was orchestrated in secret by Murdaugh, according to a lawsuit filed against their mother's employer and others. State investigators allege about $3.4 million was stolen after legal fees were paid.
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The embattled lawyer remains behind bars in his home state of South Carolina on charges he absconded with millions of dollars in the settlement cash.
No autopsy was performed on Gloria Satterfield, and a coroner said her death was improperly described as “natural” on her death certificate. State police said earlier this month in court that they are still investigating the circumstances of her death. Murdaugh denies having anything to do with her death.
Murdaugh told Satterfield’s sons he would help them get insurance settlements for her death, recommending they hire attorney Cory Fleming without telling them Fleming was a family friend, according to the lawsuit filed by the sons.
Murdaugh negotiated more than $4 million in payments, then had the checks — minus fees and attorney payments — sent to a fraudulent bank account.
South Carolina Assistant Attorney General Creighton Waters said Murdaugh quickly took the money and put it in his personal accounts.
“He had been carrying a $100,000 credit card balance for months," Waters said. “That gets paid off. He writes 300 and some odd grand to his father. He writes a check for 610 grand to himself. He writes a check for 125 grand to himself. Not a dime goes to this family.”
The issue of the Satterfield's insurance settlement isn't the only six-figure case being investigated by state police. Murdaugh's former law firm — founded by his great-grandfather a century ago — has accused him of stealing possibly millions of dollars.
Prosecutors hinted at Tuesday's hearing that Murdaugh has turned over all his affairs to his surviving son and in recent weeks sold a boat and property in Beaufort County in what they said might be an attempt to hide money from at least three ongoing lawsuits.
Each charge of obtaining property by false pretenses carries a sentence of up to 10 years. The three felony charges from the botched attempt to arrange his own death could bring up to 20 years in prison if he's convicted.
Murdaugh continues to insist he had nothing to do with the June deaths of his wife, Maggie, 52, and their son Paul, 22. Murdaugh said he returned to their rural Colleton County home to find them shot to death. Tight-lipped state police have neither named any suspects nor ruled anyone out.
In addition to all of the other cases, state police are looking into whether Murdaugh has connections to a 2015 hit-and-run death and whether he or other family members tried to obstruct the investigation into a boat crash involving Paul Murdaugh that killed a 19-year-old woman in 2019. Murdaugh also denies any wrongdoing in these cases, Harpootlian said Tuesday.
The Murdaugh family has dominated the legal community in Hampton County for nearly the past century. Murdaugh's father, grandfather and great-grandfather were elected prosecutors and their prestigious law firm became known for suing railroads.
NBC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report