Fact or Fiction: Insurance Policy Suicide Clause Leads Lawyer to Hire His Own Murderer

This is a fact! Life insurance policies will typically include something known as a suicide provision, or suicide clause. This provision generally prohibits the payout of insurance benefits if the policyholder commits suicide. The provision is typically valid for two years, meaning that if the policyholder dies by suicide within the first two years of the policy, then the insurance will not pay out the death benefit to beneficiaries.

Image Source: insurancebusinessmag.com

For example, Heath Ledger, the Academy Award-winning actor who died of a drug overdose in his early twenties in January 2008, had a $10 million life insurance policy. Although the New York Medical Examiner declared the official cause of death as acute intoxication, his insurance company denied the $10 million life insurance policy on the grounds of “suspicious death.” Ledger’s daughter, Matilda, had to sue the insurance company to receive just a fraction of her father’s estate.

Because of the suicide clause, a disgraced South Carolina legal scion, Alex Murdaugh, hired his own murderer to kill him so that his only surviving son could receive $10 million in insurance money.

Image Source: nypost.com

Murdaugh’s wife and 22-year-old son Paul was gunned down in June. These murders remain unsolved. Murdaugh’s only surviving child was Buster Murdaugh.

After the murders of his wife and oldest son, Murdaugh’s law firm, the PMPED law firm started by his great grand-father, announced Murdaugh had taken money from the business and was fired from the firm. The amount of money has not been announced.

Perhaps desperate for a way out without leaving his only child with nothing, Murdaugh admitted to hiring Curtis Edward Smith, 61, a drug dealer and a former client of Murdaugh, to murder him so that his son could collect a life insurance policy valued at approximately ten million dollars.

Of course, Alex Murdaugh isn’t the first person who tried to cash in insurance money through murder. In 2020, James Timothy Norman, of Jackson, Mississippi, and stripper Terica Ellis, of Memphis, Tennessee, were indicted for conspiring to murder Norman’s nephew for a $450,000 insurance policy.

Image Source: starcasm.net

Norman is also one of the regulars of Oprah’s OWN reality TV seriesWelcome to Sweetie Pie’s“, a reality TV show about the pie shop in St. Louis, MO owned by Norman’s mother.

In 2014, Norman obtained a $450,000 life insurance policy on his 20-year-old nephew, Andre Montgomery, on which Norman was the sole beneficiary. In the days leading up to Montgomery’s murder, Ellis, Norman’s accomplice, communicated with Montgomery and lured him to St. Louis. On March 14, 2016, Montgomery was fatally shot in St. Louis.

Four days after his nephew’s death, Norman attempted to collect on the life insurance policy he took out on the victim.

If convicted of the conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire or murder-for-hire, resulting in death, the penalty is life imprisonment or death and a fine of $250,000; and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

What do you think? Should Alex Murdaugh be harshly punished for trying to hire out what was essentially his own suicide?

2 comments on “Fact or Fiction: Insurance Policy Suicide Clause Leads Lawyer to Hire His Own Murderer

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