Who are Mallory Beach’s parents? Their continued search for justice

Mallory Beach

Mallory Beach’s death was unfortunate and avoidable. On 23rd February 2019, an intoxicated Paul Murdaugh drove a boat into a bridge, throwing some occupants, including Mallory Beach, into the water. Mallory drowned, likely due to the trauma she suffered after hitting the water. 

As authorities searched frantically for Mallory, Paul’s father, prominent attorney Alex Murdaugh, went on the offensive. He attempted to influence the narrative and deflect blame from Paul. As shown in Netflix’s Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal, Alex didn’t care about Mallory. 

Meanwhile, without credible information about their daughter’s whereabouts, Mallory’s parents wondered whether to go to the hospital or the accident scene. 

Mallory’s parents, Renee Searson and Phillip Harley Beach, described Mallory as caring and adventurous

Renee Searson and Phillip Harley raised Mallory alongside her sisters, Savannah and Morgan. Phillip described Mallory as a caring girl who enjoyed a challenge. 

“She followed me everywhere I went,” Phillip told 20/20. “She wanted to do what I did. She could be a lady when she needed to be a lady and she could be a tomboy, so to speak. She loved hunting and fishing.”

“Anyone who was pushed to the side – she cared for them,” Phillip said. Renee and Phillip divorced when Mallory was young, but they raised Mallory together thanks to a co-parenting agreement. 

Phillip Beach, father of Mallory Beach
Phillip Beach, father of Mallory Beach | ABC News

Phillip told 20/20 that Mallory was happy when she left to meet her friends that fateful night. Despite police presence at the accident site, the authorities didn’t call Mallory’s parents to inform them that she was missing. 

“I got a phone call from Mallory’s mom saying there had been an accident and she was frantic,” Phillip said. “I hung up the phone and said, ‘No God, not my child.’”

After arriving at the accident scene, Mallory’s parents kept praying their daughter would emerge alive. “I just kept praying that they would see her on a sand bar or somewhere that just couldn’t get to us but she was safe,” Renee said

However, as the likelihood of finding Mallory alive diminished, the parents’ prayers changed: “I prayed every day,” Phillip said. “I wanted some closure and we prayed for that closure for seven days.” 

Renee expressed relief that the authorities recovered Mallory’s body: “I know there’s so many times that people go missing and they never find the body, but it was like a closure for that.”

Renee and Phillip say they haven’t found justice for Mallory

Renee told she was surprised and angry that the Murdaughs were busy trying to shift blame from Paul as she worried about her daughter. “That night, I’m worried about finding my child and they’re worried about how they’re going to cover up Paul driving,” she said. 

Mallory’s parents were pleased when prosecutors charged Paul Murdaugh with several charges, including boating under the influence. Paul received preferential treatment, but Phillip was happy that he would face the consequences of his actions. He stated:

“I was pleased that finally it was starting to move forward. Her life meant something. For us, she was our baby. We had to defend her honor. I want the world to know that she mattered. And if there’s not consequences for doing this, then it’s going to happen again.”

Paul would never face trial in court: in June 2021, he and his mother, Maggie Murdaugh, were fatally shot inside their home. At the time of writing, Alex Murdaugh, Paul’s father, is on trial for the murders. 

Renee and Phillip say they haven’t found justice for Mallory. “We’ve heard that statement, that ‘You finally got justice.’ This is not justice for us. These people were brutally murdered and he did not deserve it. Neither did his mama.”

Renee Beach received a $275,000 settlement from the Murdaugh estate

Phillip Harley Beach
Mallory’s mother, Renee Beach | ABC News

Several weeks after Mallory’s death, Renee filed a civil suit against several parties: Alex Murdaugh, the boat’s owner; the convenience store where the underage Paul bought alcohol; Buster Murdaugh, Paul’s older brother, whose I.D. Paul used to buy liquor. 

Renee said she filed the suit swiftly to prevent the destruction of evidence. “What motivated me was getting evidence of everything before it disappeared,” Renee said. “I knew who we were up against and how things would probably disappear if we didn’t act quickly.”

The Murdaughs’ attorneys denied all allegations in the suit. In January 2023, they agreed to a settlement awarding Renee $275,000 from the sale of the Murdaugh’s Moselle home. Mallory’s parents will return to court in June 2023 for Mallory’s wrongful death suit. 

Phillip is married, and Renee works as a nurse. They maintain close bonds with their daughters and are doting grandparents.