Was Mallory Beach Ever Found? She Died In A Mysterious Boat Crash Caused by Alex Murdaugh’s Now Murdered Son

Sophie Hanson
Mallory Beach, Morgan Doughty
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

While riding in a boat captained by an inebriated Paul Murdaugh, the now-murdered son of disgraced attorney Alex Murdaugh, she went missing after said boat crashed into a bridge and flung her into the water. So, was Mallory Beach ever found?

The 19-year-old’s mysterious death was the beginning of the unraveling of the Murdaugh legal dynasty. Alex’s father and Paul’s grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh III, was the top prosecutor overseeing South Carolina’s Lowcountry until 2005. The three-part Netflix documentary opens with the wreck that killed Mallory and goes on to show the sinister events that encircle the Murdaugh family. Amid financial crimes and mysterious deaths of people around them, it culminated in the double homicide of Alex’s wife, Maggie, and his son Paul, for which Alex was accused and has maintained his innocence.

The victims were found with multiple gunshot wounds on June 7, 2021, after 911 dispatchers received a call from Alex Murdaugh at around 10pm. “I’ve been gone,” he said, his voice quivering, told a dispatcher, NBC reported at the time. A little less than a year after their violent deaths, Alex was indicted for their murder and also faced 100 charges of various financial crimes, including forgery, fraud, and theft. So how was Mallory Beach swept up in all of this? Read on.

Was Mallory Beach ever found?

Was Mallory Beach ever found? After the accident on February 24, 2019, her body was missing for around a week. But what happened that night? Friends Paul Murdaugh (Alex’s now-murdered son), Mallory, Morgan Doughty, Miley Altman and Connor Cook and Mallory’s boyfriend Anthony Cook—all around the age of 19—were drinking alcohol on Paul’s family’s boat.

Miley Altman, Mallory Beach

Miley Altman, Mallory Beach. Courtesy of Netflix

After attending a house party and subsequent bar-hopping down the Beaufort River, the friends boarded Paul’s boat for the last time at around 1.15 am according to CCTV footage of the dock. Paul was visibly drunk and, according to Miley’s statement to police, the group started arguing with him and refused anyone who asked for him to let them off.

Around 2.20 am, the boat crashed into the Archers Creek Bridge. Mallory was thrown from the vessel and into the dark water. Connor called 911 and, in the Netflix documentary Murdaugh Murders, you can hear Mallory’s friends screaming her name in the background of the 911 call recording. Then-Beaufort County Deputy Sherriff Stephen Domino was among the first to arrive and noticed Anthony in distress. He told the crime show 48 Hours that Anthony was agitated as Paul walked off from the boat. “He actually tried to rush through me to get to Paul,” Domino said, “because I guess he saw [Paul] smiling … and it just set him off again.” In dashcam footage obtained by Netflix, you can hear Anthony screaming at Paul: “You’re f—ing smiling like it’s f—ing funny? My f—ing girlfriend is gone. Hope you rot in f—ing hell.”

An officer in his report noted “blood in the main compartment of the boat” and a “large split in the hull from the impact,” per WSAV and all teens were “grossly intoxicated” at the time of the collision. All passengers, except for Anthony who wanted to stay behind, were taken to a hospital. Connor was treated for a broken jaw; Morgan’s hand was badly injured. According to hospital staff, Paul was agitated and uncooperative. His blood alcohol content was found to be .24—three times over the legal limit—and Paul’s father Alex went from room to room speaking with the other teens. It’s been reported by numerous outlets that a hospital security guard overheard Paul tell someone on the phone “she’s gone, don’t worry about her.”

Mallory Beach’s autopsy results

At the end of an eight-day search involving rescue boats, divers and a helicopter, Mallory’s body was found by volunteers about five miles downriver from the crash scene. The coroner found she had died of blunt force trauma to the head and drowning. In March 2019, Mallory’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Murdaughs, alleging that Paul’s mother Maggie (who is now also deceased), knew her son was drunk when the group went boating and noting that Buster, Paul’s older brother, had supplied his ID so that the teens could purchase alcohol.

On April 18, 2019, on what would have been Mallory’s 20th birthday, Paul was charged with three felony counts of boating under the influence, including causing the death of Mallory and seriously injuring two other passengers. Paul pleaded not guilty and was out on bail awaiting trial. He would never get his time in court as he was murdered on June 7, 2021. His father, Alex Murdaugh was charged with the double homicide of his wife Maggie and son on July 15, 2022. Alex has pleaded not guilty.

In January 2023, a judge approved a settlement between the Beach and Murdaugh families, having removed Maggie and Buster from the suit. “We are pleased with the court’s decision and feel like it was not only the best decision given the circumstances, but the only decision for all who had any real interest in the matter. We also believe the ruling will help give some closure to the people who so desperately deserve it,” the Beach’s family attorney Mark Tinsely said during a press conference at the time.

Paul Murdaugh

Paul Murdaugh. Courtesy of Netflix

Documents and recordings released since Paul’s death have raised questions about whether police didn’t investigate thoroughly enough or gave him favorable treatment. According to Tinsley, Mallory’s mother Renee Beach wanted to go to Archers Creek Bridge where the crash occurred but it was cordoned off. “[Renee Beach] is told she can’t go down there and just a few minutes later Alex’s father and his wife pulled up in a car and are waved under the tape, and they go down to the bridge, and she was very upset by that,” said Tinsley, per an article published by Fox News on February 6, 2023. In another incident, Anthony told a Department of Natural Resources officer shortly after the crash that Paul had been driving the boat, but the officer wrote in a report that the passenger had said he was not sure who was driving.

On day seven of Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial in mid-February 2023, Maggie’s sister Marian Proctor explained how, after the boat crash, the community turned against the Murdaugh family. That was a devastating blow for their family. It was a horrible accident but it was an accident. Maggie felt like the community had turned against her and Paul was being mistreated,” Proctor said during her testimony. “People would say mean things to him, call him names… It was very hard on the family.” During his own testimony on February 23, 2023, Murdaugh said his son Paul, whom he called “Paw Paw,” was “so misrepresented in the media” following the boat crash. “I didn’t even know this when Paul was alive but when they were doing his eulogy… But at 22 years old, Paw Paw would tell his friends [after Mallory’s death], ‘Be present, appreciate where you are and the people around you’.” Murdaugh also denied encouraging any of the teens to not cooperate with law enforcement.

Over the course of the trial, prosecutors tried to demonstrate that the lawsuit over a fatal boat crash involving Paul threatened to expose Alex’s embezzlement of more than $8 million from his law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, and clients. The prosecution also contended Murdaugh shot his wife and son to “escape accountability” for more than 100 financial crimes including fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, and forgery.

If you’re interested in learning more about the family, don’t miss Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal on Netflix. The synopsis of which is as follows: “The Murdaughs were one of South Carolina’s most prominent families, but the death of teenager Mallory Beach in a drunken boating accident began the unraveling of their legacy. When Paul Murdaugh—the alleged driver of the boat—and his mother Maggie are found brutally murdered, a century of corruption, power, and cover-ups in the Low Country is brought to light. The three-part series will feature first-hand accounts from those on the boat that fateful night, many of whom have not spoken about the crash or double homicide of Maggie and Paul until now, including Paul Murdaugh’s longtime girlfriend, Morgan Doughty; Mallory Beach’s childhood friends, Miley Altman and Connor Cook; Mallory’s boyfriend, Anthony Cook; and, several others.”

Netflix’s Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal is available to stream now.

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