WALTERBORO, SC — Don’t call him a hillbilly hitman.
Just 24 hours after Curtis “Fast Eddie” Smith, 61, shuffled into a Hampton County courtroom, wild-eyed with matted hair — for a hearing on charges he was Alex Murdaugh’s longtime drug dealer and tried to shoot him in a bizarre assisted-suicide scheme — he was back at home with his rescue dogs, looking like a different person and insisting he was innocent.
“I know what they’re trying to say about me and it ain’t true,” Curtis told The Post during a porch-side interview Friday.
“It was the craziest situation I ever been involved with. I was set up to be the fall guy. And those damn pictures of me in the newspaper! I was looking at them this morning. They didn’t let me take a damn shower!”
Smith, who is both a distant cousin of Alex Murdaugh and a former client, is the latest person to be implicated in a twisted Southern Gothic murder mystery that has captivated the world. It began June 7, when the pretty, college-sweetheart wife and son of Alex Murdaugh, a prominent and powerful lawyer who knows everyone in town, were brutally gunned down at their hunting lodge in Islandton.
The murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh have not been solved. Alex Murdaugh, who was for a time named as a “person of interest” in the murders, made headlines again Sept. 4 when he told police he’d been shot in the head by someone he didn’t know on a rural road outside Hampton and suffered a head wound.
Two days later he resigned from his law firm, a company his family has run since 1910, amid reports that he allegedly embezzled millions. Murdaugh said he had an opioid addiction and was entering rehab.
According to his lawyers, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, Murdaugh admitted to them sometime around Sept. 13 that he hired Smith to kill him — but the planned fatal shot only ended up grazing his head. He allegedly hatched the plan to have himself killed so his surviving son, Buster, could collect on a $10 million insurance policy. His lawyers notified the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which is handling the case.
Murdaugh surrendered Thursday on charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report in the case. He was released on a personal recognizance bond of $20,000 and his lawyer, Dick Harpootlian, said he was going to an out-of-state rehab.
Smith, who used to work in logging, was also arrested and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. He was released on $20,000 bail.
But Smith told The Post he did not collude with Murdaugh in an assisted-suicide attempt.
Smith said he was set up by Alex to make it look as if he shot him.
“I get a call from Alex that Saturday afternoon to come to where he was and I thought it was maybe to fix something,” Smith said, gesturing to a silver Chevy pickup he said was his work truck. “I had no idea what he wanted, I just went over there.”
Smith said he then drove over to the stretch of rural Old Salkehatchie Road and found Murdaugh in his car. He said Murdaugh then got out of his car brandishing a gun, and waving it around as if he might be about to shoot himself.
“I run over and we wrestled a minute together, me trying to get the gun away from him,” Smith said. “Then the gun kind of went off above his head and I got scared to death and I ran to my truck and took off.”
Smith said he took Murdaugh’s gun and threw it away. He did not say where.
“I wound up with the gun,” Smith said. “It was plain stupid, just plain stupid.”
When asked if any bullet actually struck or grazed Alex’s head, Smith shook his head.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I just got out of there.”
There were no visible marks nor any bandage on Murdaugh’s head at his Wednesday bond hearing, though his lawyers have said he may have suffered a minor skull fracture and minor brain bleeding.
Smith doesn’t have legal representation yet and is hoping to find a lawyer “with a bone to pick” against the Murdaughs.
When asked if he shot Alex Murdaugh on the road or if he killed Maggie and Paul, Smith shook his head and said “no.”
“I never did nothing,” he said.
“If [a car is] broke down, if things need working on, neighbors in this area at times need something done … if I can’t help you, I’m not going to hurt you,” Smith said. “I’ve never hurt anyone. It’s that simple. It’s a bad deal. A really bad deal. I guess I was naive for getting caught up in this damn thing, too.”
Harpootlian told reporters outside the courtroom Friday that his client Alex Murdaugh had a 20-year opioid addiction that left him broke and that Smith was Alex’s drug dealer of more than a decade.
Smith shook his head “no” when The Post asked if he was Alex’s drug dealer or used drugs himself. He walked bent over as he showed a Post reporter around his yard and introduced his pets — including cats named Jay Z and Biggie and a pit bull mix named Dixie.
The incident with Smith is one more in a series of “red herrings and misinformation in this case that’s being used to obscure what really happened to Maggie and Paul,” local defense attorney Mark Tinsley told The Post. (Tinsley is representing the parents of a 19-year-old girl killed during a 2019 boat crash when Paul, then 19, was at the wheel.)
A local Hampton resident who has known the Murdaughs for more than 30 years said she and other locals do not understand why SLED announced, right after the murders, that there was no “danger to the public.”
She and several other locals told The Post they are puzzled as to why two of Alex’s brothers went on “Good Morning America” just two weeks later asking for help finding the killer and offering a reward — when cops initially said there was no danger to the public and never mentioned a hunt for suspects.
“I bet they really regret saying that,” the woman said. She and others also pointed out that the murderer still hasn’t been found and many suspect Murdaugh had some involvement in the killing.
The woman, like a number of residents here interviewed by The Post, said she will only speak on condition of anonymity because she is afraid of the Murdaugh family, which has commanded considerable influence in this area for years and still does.
Since the murders, SLED has opened up several investigations involving the Murdaugh clan, in addition to the double-murder investigation and the charges that were already pending in the 2019 boat crash. (Since Paul’s death, the Murdaugh family has also faced civil charges in the case.)
SLED said last week it was opening an investigation into the mysterious death of the Murdaughs’ longtime housekeeper, hours after the woman’s children filed a lawsuit involving a huge insurance payout tied to the woman’s death.
Gloria Satterfield, 57, died in February 2018 after “a trip and fall accident” in the home of the Murdaughs, where she had worked for more than 20 years and was treated like “part of the Murdaugh family,” a lawsuit said.
More than three years later, “the exact details of the fall remain unclear,” even to the housekeeper’s sons and heirs, the Hampton County lawsuit seeking unspecified damages said. Murdaugh had gotten a $500,000 settlement from his insurers in December 2018 for Satterfield’s sons but the two have never gotten the money, court documents from the time show.
In June, SLED opened an investigation into the death of Stephen Smith, a young gay man who was found dead on a rural road outside Hampton on July 8, 2015. His skull was partially crushed, there was a hole in his forehead and his shoulder had been dislocated.
Smith’s mother, Sandy, and former Highway Patrol investigator Todd Proctor, who oversaw the Smith case, previously told The Post that they believe Stephen may have been murdered — though the death was originally ruled a hit-and-run accident — and that someone from the Murdaugh family may have been involved.
“These are all distractions to feed the media an even bigger circus of distractions,” Tinsley said. “A lot of people wonder why SLED is taking so long with the original investigation into the double murders.”
SLED spokesman Tommy Crosby said Friday that the agency was still conducting a “thorough” ongoing investigation of the Murdaugh murders. Alex Murdaugh could not be reached for comment for this story. His surviving son, Buster, has been unreachable since the double murders.
Despite his current predicament, “Fast Eddie” told The Post he doesn’t bear a grudge against Alex Murdaugh.
“I never had a reason not to like him before,” Curtis said. “I understand he’s in fight or flight mode and he wanted me to be the heavy weight in the water so he could fly.”
However, Curtis said Murdaugh should not mess with him further.
“I wouldn’t advise him to try to set me up,” Smith said. “I’d strongly advise him against that.”