South Carolina officials were forced to pause the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh on Wednesday due to a bomb threat made against the courthouse, police confirmed to HuffPost.
The trial was suspended around 12:30 p.m. after a Colleton County Sheriff’s deputy was seen running across the courthouse grounds yelling for people to clear the area, The Greenville News reported. Proceedings resumed around 2.5 hours later.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said in a statement that a bomb threat “was received by Colleton County courthouse personnel” and its officers were working with the sheriff’s office to investigate. The courthouse was evacuated and Murdaugh was taken away in a black van, according to reporters at the scene.
Murdaugh, a 54-year-old prominent local attorney, is accused of killing his 52-year-old wife, Margaret, and 22-year-old son, Paul. He pleaded not guilty.
The trial began last month, the crescendo of a case that has featured more than its share of twists and turns. In South Carolina’s Lowcountry, the Murdaugh family name is associated with law enforcement, as three generations served as local prosecutors over a span of more than eight decades.
Paul Murdaugh was accused by several friends of drunk-driving a boat that crashed into a bridge pile in 2019, resulting in the death of a friend, 19-year-old Mallory Beach. He was expected to go to trial, but was found shot to death along with his mother at the family’s sprawling hunting estate in June 2021. At first, it seemed likely the crimes were linked to Beach’s death.
Alex Murdaugh then appeared to become a target in September 2021, when he called 911 saying that he’d been shot in the head while working on his car, although his head did not bear any signs of injury during a court appearance two weeks later.
Authorities soon accused him of scheming to arrange his own death so that his elder son, Buster, would reap a $10 million life insurance policy. They charged him with the killings of his wife and younger son a few months later.
Other suspicious deaths have been linked to the family, but nothing has been proven.
Murdaugh is currently facing more than 100 criminal charges for his various alleged crimes, including pilfering money from his family’s law firm and evading his taxes.